Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: June 2012

Oh, my aching back!

If you have lower back pain, you're not alone. Did you know that 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time? In fact, up to 80 percent of the population experiences lower back pain at some point in their lives. Some of my previous newsletters have offered great advice on how to prevent lower back pain. But what can you do if you're already suffering from it?

You're sitting at your computer and your lower back feels like it's on fire. Sound familiar? An easy thing to do at that moment is to get your body into a position that will relieve the pain. Lie down on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can also prop your knees up with pillows, or rest your lower legs up on a chair. The idea is to be flat on your back with your hips flexed. Once comfortable, take deep, relaxing breaths and feel your back let go.

It is also important to position yourself properly when sleeping. If you sleep on your back, make sure you put pillows or bolsters under your knees. If you're a stomach sleeper, put the pillows under your ankles so that your knees are bent. This helps take undue strain off the lower back. If you sleep on your side, it's helpful to put a pillow between your thighs so that your top leg is in line with your hip.

Sitting in a slouched position puts tremendous stress on your low back. If you have a desk job, make sure you are sitting all the way back in your chair, with a lumbar cushion behind you to support the natural curve in your lower back. Some ergonomic desk chairs have this lumbar support built in. If yours doesn't, simply use a small pillow or folded towel.

Exercise is essential in the treatment of lower back pain. I highly recommend adding pelvic tilts to your exercise routine. Click here to see an instructional video.

And of course, get massage! Those of you who have sought massage therapy for low back pain have likely been pleased with the results. A huge body of research suggests that massage therapy relieves low back pain. Here's one study. If you're interested in reading more research on massage therapy and low back pain, simply search online and you'll get tons of hits.

Follow these tips and perhaps you'll find out what it feels like to wake up in the morning, sit at your desk, and come home at the end of the day pain-free!

Be inspired with a massage!

By now, you probably know many health benefits massage therapy has to offer. But did you know that massage can awaken your creativity? When we are chronically stressed, our bodies and minds are perpetually stuck in fight-or-flight mode, inhibiting our ability to be open to creativity and inspiration. We know that massage reduces stress and calms the nervous system, but many don't realize that massage therapy also alters our chemistry. Massage stimulates the pituitary gland to release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which reduces stress-hormone levels. Oxytocin regenerates our bodies and returns us to our natural relaxed states, allowing for us to be open to thoughts and ideas.

Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, author of Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body's Wisdom, explains "Oxytocin creates a fabulous physiological state of receptivity. This is one of the main components of the biochemistry of inspiration and creativity."

I've witnessed the evidence on my massage table. On numerous occasions, I've seen clients experience an "aha" moment, in which a wonderful idea came to them during the massage session. Or someone will come to a session feeling down and defeated, and leave uplifted with a renewed zest for life. Creative inspiration from massage - how cool is that?

Source: Massage Magazine

What's new with me ...

A college friend is hosting a theatre alumni cabaret night in the city this month! I'm looking forward to reuniting with my college friends, singing a duet, and watching performances by talented Hofstra University graduates!

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American Massage Therapy Association

Swedish InstituteCertified Myoskeletal TherapistNational Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

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