Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: April 2011


No pain, no gain, right?

WRONG! I'm always looking for those little clues from my clients receiving deep tissue work: a clenched hand or foot, rapid breathing, held breath, a furrowed brow. To me, all of these signs mean to lighten up and check in with my client. I have a pretty good sense of how much pressure is the right pressure for each person, but I can't always be 100% accurate. Only you can know the difference between just right and too much.

Whenever I get an "ouch" signal, I back off and ask my client if I was too deep. From new clients, I may hear "It's ok, I can take it" or "Doesn't massage have to hurt to be effective?" NO! The "no pain, no gain" theory does not apply to massage. Massage is supposed to feel good. It is not a test of tolerance and endurance. In fact, if a client is in pain, the treatment is unlikely to be a success.

When someone is in pain, they tend to clench their muscles, making it impossible for the massage therapist to do safe and effective deep tissue work. In addition, pain signals the brain to release stress hormones, which activates the "fight or flight" part of the nervous system. This is the opposite of what we're trying to achieve with massage. Our goals are relaxation, deep breathing, pain relief, and increased flexibility. How can any of those possibly be achieved if a client is clenching, holding their breath, and distracted by pain?

There are a few exceptions where some pain is necessary to achieve results. Still, this type of work should only be done with the client's consent, and the discomfort should be well within the client's tolerance level. One example is working to loosen and realign restricting scar tissue after surgery.

You may experience mild discomfort in some more tender areas, or perhaps "good pain" where the sensation is intense but feels good, like working out that pesky knot in the back of your shoulder. That's all okay. I use a number scale with my clients in order to get accurate feedback about pressure. One is the pressure of a flea, and ten is unbearable, incapacitating pain. Somewhere between six and seven is that sweet spot, or just enough pressure to be pleasurable, on the borderline of pain. Beyond that, we've entered into the pain zone which should always be avoided.

When you get a massage, no matter who your massage therapist or what modality of treatment you are receiving, always speak up if you are uncomfortable. If something hurts, let the massage therapist know so that they can adjust the pressure accordingly. Massage is about improving health, reducing pain and stress, and feeling good. No pain, all the gain!

The good news about world health!

April 7th was World Health Day. In honor of the occasion, I've listed some interesting facts about the positive trends in world health:

  • Today, the world life expectancy is 68. In wealthier countries, it's 77, or even higher. Compare this to the 18th century, when Britain had the world's highest life expectancy: 36!
  • In 1875, there was a 17-year gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor in Britain (the country with the best records). Today, there's only a 4-year gap. And today's poor live longer and better lives than even the elite did 100 years ago.
  • We've seen a rapid decline in infant mortality rates worldwide and they continue to go down.
  • People are healthier throughout life, even in their later years. Today, people in their 70s and 80s are active and independent.
  • Smoking in the developed world is plummeting and poor countries are likely to follow.
  • In the U.S., the incidence of heart disease has decreased 60% and the incidence of strokes has decreased 70% since 1950.
  • Rates have been falling for most cancers since the 1990s, even accounting for increasingly aged populations.
  • Patient deaths from anesthesia decreased more than 40-fold in the past 20 years.
  • AIDS-related deaths in the West are at a remarkable low.
  • The rates of teens dropping out of high school, smoking, and drinking have been declining over the past decade.

And these are just to name a few! If you can add to this list, take a look at the special of the month.

Source - "The Secret Peace" by Jesse Richards

What's new with me ...

My husband Jesse and I are very busy sorting, packing, giving away stuff, and throwing away other stuff in excited preparation for our move (down the street)!




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