Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: July 2010

Is the key to good health only skin deep?

Ever notice what happens in your body when you're stressed and someone sympathetically holds your hand, or touches your shoulder? That comforting touch is stimulating your skin to send zillions of signals to every organ, gland and system in your body. Skin is the largest organ in the human body and accounts for 6-8% of total body weight. Over the past hundred years, many animal studies have been performed in order to learn more about the importance of skin and the effects it has on our health and well-being when stimulated through nurturing touch. Pups of rats and mice who were stroked and handled “opened their eyes sooner after birth, were more active, developed motor coordination earlier, and weighed more at weaning” than the pups who were not handled and only received routine feeding and cleaning. Even more, the stroked pups “had stronger immune systems. … Socially more dominant, they were curious, calmer, better problem solvers, and possessed advanced mothering skills.“ These substantial benefits last throughout their whole lives, and increase if the pups continue to be stroked during their maturation. In these studies, the pups that were deprived of touch “were more excitable, timid, and fearful. They tended toward rage reactions in response to frustration, and they often bit each other and their caretakers.”

These studies suggest that skin stimulation promotes brain development and has positive effects on all body systems. When we experience nurturing touch on a regular basis, we’re more likely to experience a lifetime of superior mental, motor and social development. The studies also show the connections between massage therapy and our health and overall quality of life. Even when receiving a gentle massage, skin stimulation has a positive effect on our blood flow, energy levels, organ function, hormone production, digestion, mood, and more. And the best part is, it feels great!

Source: Pre- and Perinatal Massage Therapy by Carole Osborne-Sheets

Now that's a stretch!

You wash the dishes, you water the plants, you do the laundry, but how are you caring for your most precious possession - your body? We need hydration, proper nourishment, plenty of rest and relaxation, exercise, good hygiene, massage (of course), and a good amount of stretching. Yes, stretching!

Stretching is a key component in injury-prevention. As the Massage Therapy Journal describes, “Over time, an accumulation of physical stress can begin to take a toll on our muscles and joints. Overuse of muscles can cause them to become chronically tight and sore; and compression and torque forces on the joints can lead to joint dysfunction and pain. In turn, pain can lead to further tightening of the muscles ... Tight muscles can then further limit joint motion." Stretching can be a simple way to help break this cycle. "The essence of stretching is that it lengthens soft tissues. Taut soft tissues limit motion. ... Stretching can help to reverse this process. Even better, stretching on a regular basis can prevent soft tissues from becoming taut in the first place."

When stretching, come into the stretch slowly so as not to cause a muscle spasm. Take the muscle only to the initial point of resistance, and then stretch just slightly longer. Stretches should feel good and pain-free. For more information and guidance on specific stretches that could best benefit your body, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

What's new with me ...

I’ve been working with a knowledgeable Metabolic Typing specialist, Mark Anthony of Pantheon Wellness, to find a diet that will allow for optimum health and have me functioning at my fullest. Mark writes, “Metabolic Typing is an easy-to-use proven technology that allows you to rapidly identify your own highly individualized dietary needs.” So, I’ve embarked on that journey and, in only two weeks, have made some interesting discoveries and have gotten excited about improving my health. Mark’s instruction and guidance have been so helpful. He even took me shopping at Whole Foods, teaching me how to read labels and find the best foods for my body! Check him out at Pantheon Wellness.

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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