Rachel Richards

licensed massage therapist

east village, nyc

News: September 2010

I'll believe it when I see it!

Massage has been a therapeutic technique for thousands of years, but it's only in recent decades that science has set out to study many of its effects. The number of studies just keeps growing, as I saw during a recent course I took. A few weeks ago, I completed the pre- and perinatal massage therapy certification. This course not only taught me loads of useful techniques and gave me an enhanced appreciation for the pregnancy and birthing process, but also reinforced how powerful and necessary nurturing touch truly is.

In class, we discussed several research studies regarding mothers and their babies. One famous study you may have heard of was performed on Rhesus monkeys. (I adore monkeys and my heart breaks a little each time I think of them as research subjects!) A group of newborn monkeys was separated from their mothers, and each given two surrogate mothers: one made out of wire, that had milk in a nozzle, and the other made of soft terrycloth with no milk. The results were amazing. The monkeys cuddled up to the cloth mothers, only leaving occasionally to get a small drink from the wire mother before hurrying back to the preferred furry mom.

Another study was created after noticing how pregnant rats lick their bellies, as if stroking their babies. Wide collars were put on a group of pregnant rats to prevent them from being able to lick their bellies. The results were awful. The babies of the collared moms were smaller in size, violent, low-functioning, and withdrawn. The mothers of these pups were distant and uncaring about their offspring, while the mothers who were left to lick their bellies during pregnancy exhibited more affection, stroking, and maternal nurturing for their babies.

These research studies suggest that nurturing touch is inherently important to babies, perhaps even necessary for survival. In one study of pregnant women done by groundbreaking researcher Tiffany Field, one group was given massages, while others practiced guided progressive relaxation instead. Both groups received their treatments twice weekly for 20 minutes. The differences between the two groups of moms were startling. Findings showed that the massaged moms had improved hormonal production, enhanced placental function, reduced edema and blood pressure, stress reduction, pain relief, shorter and less painful labors, less need for medications and interventions, more nurturing maternal touch, and improved infant well-being.

Science has spoken. So to all the parents out there - massage, cuddle, rock and nurture your children. And of course, whether you're pregnant or not, get yourself massaged regularly!

Is your walk to and from work a pain in the neck?

It is if you're carrying heavy bags on your shoulders. The good news is, you don't have to let your shoulder bags cause you chronic neck and back pain! Rolling bags will save your back. As fashionable as your Louis Vuitton? Maybe not. But being in pain is worse. If rolling bags don't appeal to you, or you have to deal with lots of subway stairs, try a back pack with wide straps to distribute the weight evenly across your upper back and keep your shoulders in alignment. Not as good as a back pack, but better than a shoulder bag, is a messenger bag you can wear diagonally across your body to help take some of the weight off your shoulder. So do yourself a favor and save the shoulder bags for special occasions. Your back will thank you!

What's new with me ...

Come hear me sing! I'm performing in a singer's showcase at the Duplex (61 Christopher Street @ 7th Ave.) on Wednesday, October 6th at 9:30 pm. Tickets are $14 and there's a 2-drink minimum. Email or call me if you'd like to reserve seats. Should be a fun night. Hope to see you there!

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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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