Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: April 2010

Warmer weather means time to chill out!

"For the vast majority of beasts on this planet, stress is about a short-term crisis, after which it’s either over with or you’re over with. When we sit around and worry about stressful things, we turn on the same physiological responses – but they are potentially a disaster when provoked chronically. A large body of evidence suggests that stress-related disease emerges, predominantly, out of the fact that we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months on end, worrying about mortgages, relationships, and promotions. … Heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate increase, all to transport nutrients and oxygen at greater rates … during stress, digestion is inhibited … growth and tissue repair is curtailed, and sexual drive decreases. Immunity is also inhibited. The stress-response can become more damaging than the stressor itself, especially when the stress is purely psychological … [We have] numerous vulnerabilities to stress-related disease, [but] we have an enormous potential to protect ourselves from many of them."

- from Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers

Don't forget to breathe!

Here's one exercise to relieve stress that I find very helpful. It was outlined in the spring 2010 issue of Massage Therapy Journal:

Contract/Hold/Release Technique:

Sit in a comfortable chair or cushion with your spine erect and feet flat on the ground. Keep your head up with your chin tilted slightly downward in a comfortable, relaxed, but awake and aware position. As thoughts come in to your mind, acknowledge them and let them go. Close your eyes and relax. Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Contract your scalp and facial muscles for five seconds while inhaling, hold your breath, and then exhale slowly. As you exhale, release your scalp and facial muscles for 20 seconds.

Continue down your body ... while following your breath, including one breathing cycle for each of these areas: neck, shoulders, arms, torso, stomach, hips, gluteals, thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles and feet.

Conclude this centering exercise by contracting the muscles of the entire body, head to toe, pausing for a brief moment, and then releasing the contractions with an exhale. This act of consciously contracting and releasing while following your breath will relieve tension in muscles, tendons and ligaments, while also facilitating an opening, releasing and relaxing at the very core of your being.

What's new with me ...

I’m so happy to be back on my feet and massaging again. Lots of cool things going on this month. I got to enjoy a Meetup group in beautiful Central Park to sketch the scenery and soak in some sun. I’m looking forward to taking a course on massage for children with disabilities. My broken foot may have temporarily stopped me from dancing, but it certainly has not stopped me from singing!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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Available now!

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