Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: January 2011

Hello new year ... good-bye back pain!

The number one cause of missed work days is an obvious culprit: the common cold. But what do you think is second? If you said back pain, you are correct. And if you suffer from back pain, you're not alone. Eighty percent of the population experiences back pain, according to the National Institutes of Health, and we spend tens of billions of dollars annually to treat it!

Preventative measures, like practicing good body mechanics, stretching and exercise, may prove helpful, but often times the back pain persists. There are zillions of treatments. Some of you may have tried chiropractic, acupuncture, hot and cold compresses, painkillers, or even surgery. But when compared to the benefits of massage therapy, such types of treatments sometimes prove less effective and more expensive.

In one study of back-pain treatments, massage therapy was compared to acupuncture and self-care education. The massage therapy subjects had the best results, the lowest costs of subsequent care, and used the least medication. Other research compared massage to exercise and posture education. Only the subjects who received massage therapy reported decreased pain. One month later, 63% of the subjects were still pain-free.

Bill Holocher went to a chiropractor throughout high school and college to treat neck and middle back pain. He thought he had a neck injury, but after an MRI twenty years later, he found the injury stemmed from his middle back, where he had been hit with a baseball in high school. When Bill went back to the chiropractor, he asked why he feels better after an adjustment, but the pain always comes back the next day. The chiropractor explained that Bill's muscles were in spasm, pulling the spine out of alignment, and suggested he see a massage therapist. Bill's orthopedic physician also recommended massage for long-lasting pain relief. Bill is now 51 years old and has been seeing a massage therapist every month.

After several accidents, Deborah Winckler could barely walk due to severe back pain. Massage therapy has changed her life. She said, "I sincerely doubt I would be walking today without the expertise of my massage therapist."

There's tons of evidence to support the amazing pain-relief benefits of massage. But I encourage you to do your own research. If back pain is slowing you down, get massage therapy regularly and see what it does for you. Get yourself "back" in action and resolve to feel great in 2011!

Source - Massage Therapy Journal

Frequency matters!

Many people dealing with pain or injury ask me how often they should get a massage. The answer is different for each individual. It depends on the patient's medical history, current symptoms, and goals. Many consider once a week to be the standard. But if someone needs rehabilitative work, is experiencing a lot of pain and discomfort, or is training for an athletic event, once a week is often not sufficient. If you want to get good at something, like a sport or a musical instrument, you need to practice at least 2 or 3 times a week. The muscles of the body work the same way - they need frequent, repetitive "training" to learn and establish a new pattern.

After a massage, you feel good, right? But with each passing day after the treatment, you find yourself slipping into your old patterns and the pain and muscle tightness returns. If you wait too long, some of the benefits of the massage can wear off, and you're pretty much back to square one. But if you and your therapist agree to increase the session frequency, each subsequent massage builds on the previous one and real progress is made. You feel better much more quickly and the overall cost of treatment goes down!

Source - Massage Therapy Journal

What's new with me ...

I was very fortunate to be surrounded by so many friends and loved ones during the holidays. At New Year's Eve dinner, we went around the table sharing what we were most grateful for in 2010. This gave me a chance to step back and realize just how much there is to appreciate in my life. I'm looking forward to another great year!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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