September 30, 2009

A List of Things Coming Up!

A list of things to come on Mending Hands for the Month of October!

1. Breast Cancer Awareness Month! This Sunday, I am off to lend a hand along side the AMTA to help with a grateful rubdown on the participants of 200+ mile ride for Hershey's Tour de Pink! Check out the details with the Young Survival Coalition HERE!

2. Last night, I was given a beautifully skilled massage by Rachel Beider, LMT - Owner of Massage Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Her massage will soon be featured in Spa Scoop followed by a post of the delightfully enthusiastic conversation we had in Meeting of the Massage Minds. Let me just say, that this Massage Therapist and entrepreneur has a lot to be proud of - she is doing not only her clients, but the Massage Therapy profession a great deal of good!

3. I have my Swedish Institute Clinic Dates! It's the first time in our training where we are having the experience to work our relaxing massage skills on the public. I am very much looking forward to this part of school - So I hope to have fun or at least interesting notes to share with as I complete my sessions.

4. I just had a massive book shopping spree - so there will more more random facts and info to pass along as I continue my extra curricular learning!

5. Spa Week is coming up!

September 28, 2009

Giving Back: Hershey's Tour de Pink

This Sunday I will be joining the American Massage Therapy Association to celebrate (massage, relax and rejuvenate!) the participants of Hershey's Tour de Pink! This is an amazing event for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Young Survival Coalition. The YSC is the premier international organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer. Sponsored by Hershey's - this bike ride starts in Hershey, PA and travels over 200 miles to end right here in New York City! Each rider raises at least $2,500 to hop on their bike and spread awareness, support research and create a strong community - built on quality and quantity for women diagnosed with breast cancer ages 40 and under.

I just found out that I am being welcomed by the AMTA as a student volunteer - so even thought I will have a small role to play in the event, I know that I will be learn so much from this group of giving LMT's. Breast Cancer Awareness is such an important cause, filled with giant hearts - and I consider myself honored to be able to lend a hand!

September 27, 2009

Spa Scoop: Yan Mei Foot Reflexology

In the name of World Reflexology Week - I took my tired toes out and got my Qi moving again at Yan Mei Foot Reflexology! They don't have a website, but I'm happy to share their info!

The Yan Mei Foot Reflexology Center
158 Mott Street (between Broome and Grand)
Open 7 days a Week - 10am to 10pm (which is great for after work - and trust me, this feels better than any happy hour I have ever been to!)

September 24, 2009

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales

I had just finished a book (The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky) and was about to get on the subway last week with nothing but my Neurology notes to keep me company. I scanned the joint bookcase in my apartment trying to see what I could borrow and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat jumped out. I had heard of it, but never read it - nor could I quite place where this title had be suggested to me before. Little did I know that when I cracked it open as a break from studying for my first Neurology test, that this wonderfully witty and heartwarming collection of tales is actually written by an English neurologist! Oliver Sacks published this informative and amusing book in 1989. It is comprised of describing the case histories of some of his patients in a collection that breaks down into 24 stories. These stories are grouped into sections that deal with a particular aspect of brain function. Thus far, it has been a delightful - and perfectly timed - addition to my subway reading! It's been great to learn about Neurology in class, then get on the train to read the many ways people can deal with afflictions, and at times triumph over one Neurological deficiency with the healing potential of another Neurological energy!

The best part? The tales are told in a way that even if you aren't in the middle of this kind of science course, you can learn a lot just by reading how strong and creative people can when they truly want to heal and live their best life!

September 23, 2009

Giving Back: C.H.A. Holistic Health Fair

Last night I had my first time volunteering as a Massage Therapy student and the experience was wonderful! I donated my time to the Community Heath Action of Staten Island Holistic Health Fair and when I arrived I was shown to a room where two LMT's were set up. I was using my new chair, so my addition to the body work was more relaxation, circulation and release oriented. Jim, of Multicare Therapy Center in New Jersey, worked with a table to help alignment, pain and some of the more meaningful issues with each new body that walked in for relief. The other table belonged to a woman who was practicing Shiatsu as her gift to the event. Many others were there to offer their efforts in the areas of Acupressure, Reiki, Spiritual Guidance - as well as Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Screenings. The participants signed up for the treatments of their choice and enjoyed a giant spread of food too!

I just wanted to share a few things that I will take away from this first leap out to Giving Back as a Massage Therapist...

September 21, 2009

Happy World Reflexology Week!

This is the week that the global community supports, celebrates and spreads the word about this wonderful healing practice! The Association of Reflexologists in the UK has a great site that provides us with more information about Reflexology. The have research on some common ailments that Reflexology is used to treat - even providing fact sheets for more details on the following issues! Please check them out for more details:

Allergies - Fact sheet

Back Pain - Fact sheet

Cancer - Fact sheet

Digestive system - Fact sheet

Headache - Fact sheet

Musculoskeletal - Fact sheet

Neurological Problems -Fact sheet

Pregnancy - Fact sheet

Reproductive System - Fact sheet

Skin Problems - Fact sheet

Stress & Anxiety - Fact sheet

Urinary System - Fact sheet

September 16, 2009

Expressing Gratitude

For today's post - just something I'm excited about and wanted to share!

Thanks to someone in my very generous support system (I won't name names, just know that I'm very blessed!) I received a Portable Massage Chair last night! I plan to use it for the first time when I go to Volunteer next Tuesday the 22nd at the Community Heath Action of Staten Island Health Fair! It's also going to be wonderful to have when I go out to infiltrate some New York offices with my hard learned massage skills!

David Palmer, co-developer of the first massage chair and founder of the TouchPro Institute in San Francisco says: Most office-related physical symptoms can be attributed to loss of circulation. Tight muscles caused by stress and sitting behind a desk all day, especially at a work station that is not ergonomically designed, can impede blood and lymph flow through the body. The result is mental fogginess, decreased energy and susceptibility to repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome.Chair massage counters the circulatory problems inherent with office work—and provide a appreciated break for employees. Sitting in a massage chair opens up the back muscles, relieves strain on the neck and provides a gentle respite for eyes usually glued to a computer monitor. Even 15 minutes of massage to the neck, back, arms and hands can increase circulation, returning energy levels and helping keep the body injury free.

Wahoo for more ways to help give people the relief they need!

September 13, 2009

The Rub Down VII

Today I have a few people coming over to be my homework! I'm doing a session for Tools of Assessment - Hip muscle length tests and stretches. I also plan to lead them in a session of Makko Ho Exercises. Makko Hos are a way for the individual to work on their own flow of energy and Qi. They are used to rejuvenate the legs, correctly align the hips and spine, stimulate blood flow, sensitize the nervous system, and increase flexibility as well. We learned at least one combination of moves for each of the Shiatsu Elements - Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood. The positions that these movements use work with the location and direction of the associated Meridians. The elements house the meridians as follows (with a link to the instructions for each Makko Ho):

Fire - Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium and Triple Energizer (similar to the Immune System)
Earth - Spleen and Stomach
Metal - Lung and Large Intestine
Water - Kidney and Bladder
Wood - Liver and Gall Bladder

There is a Yin and a Yang partner for each of the elements, and doing a Makko Ho designed for the Element can bring them back into balance with each other. Its also a great way to wake your whole body up for a long day of studying!

September 09, 2009

Meeting of the Massage Minds: Justin Coletti

Justin Coletti has been been a student of Martial Arts since he was a child. So his interest and respect for Eastern disciplines had roots planted before he even knew what he was going to do with them! He entered the Massage Therapy program at the New York College of Health Professions in order to continue his education for a Masters Degree in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. I sat down with him to see what I could learn from his adventures as an LMT thus far.

September 08, 2009

The Rub Down VI

Day One of Neurology and I am already swimming in new information! We have just begun to talk about The Central Nervous system, The Peripheral Nervous System - Afferent Neurons vs. Efferent Neurons, Sympathetic - Fight or Flight! Parasympathetic - Rest and Digest!

Inhale. Exhale.

The land of the learning is an exciting place to be...

We started with Homeostasis: The ability to maintain relatively stable internal conditions even though the outside world changes consistently (Marieb) And how that balance is achieved through either a Negative Feedback Mechanism (when a reaction is stopped due to it reaching the ideal value - think of how your AC turns off when it hits that perfect 76 degrees) or a Positive Feedback Mechanism (when the body is asked to increase the change, encouraging it to get to a natural end point). His example for Positive Feedback was how during birth, the act of that baby trying to make their way into the world causes and chemical reaction in the Mother by releasing Oxytocin. This is the hormone that makes the contractions come - causing the baby to press harder, releasing more oxytocin, increasing the speed and strength of the contractions until the natural stopping point is reached - A new Birthday to celebrate!

What does this have to do with Massage Therapy? of the side effects of increased Oxytocin levels is the chemical and physically phenomenon of bonding. And according to Dr. Ray Sahelian, MD: Oxytocin is a hormone that helps relax and reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. Oxytocin increases pain thresholds, has anti anxiety effects, and stimulates various types of positive social interaction. In addition, oxytocin promotes growth and healing. He goes on to explain that: Oxytocin can be released by various types of non-noxious sensory stimulation, for example by touch and warmth. Most likely, oxytocin can also be released by stimulation of other senses such as olfaction, as well as by certain types of sound and light. These Mechanisms may trigger the release of oxytocin. This means that positive interaction involving touch may be health-promoting.

I realize that some of this may be a little hard to get ones head around - but isn't it wonderful to think that a healing touch (Aromatherapy and Sound Therapy too!) can be this complex and amazing? That a scientifically proven chemical change with so many benefits (normally reserved for childbirth) can be stimulated in anyone by their Massage Therapist!

I must admit, it is pretty inspiring to be learning how Massage Therapy and the power of healing hands work - starting with something even as small as a neuron.

September 07, 2009

Spa Scoop: nyacutherapy - Justin Coletti

Justin Coletti possesses the attitude, energy and openness that I would wish for everyone to experience with a therapeutic treatment. I was honored that he responded to my call for interviews - and he will be the first featured in Meeting of the Massage Minds! Not only did I get to sit and pick his brains about where he has come and where he is going as an LMT, Acupressist and pursuer of a Masters in Health Science and Acupuncture - he provided a treatment!

September 06, 2009

The Rub Down V

Last week I was contacted by a fellow blogger and LMT friend of mine about an article she was writing that may be expanded in Massage Magazine. She was aiming to discuss the unethical topic of Happy Endings and asked: How do you as a massage therapist feel when someone assumes that your field of work includes prostitution? As you can read in her article HERE: My thought is the assumption that a Licensed Massage Therapist would in any way be associated with prostitution is based on ignorance and the unfair social influence they have yet to think beyond. Everyone understands that a Fake Rolex is just that- A Fake. It might tick a little, but the quality and respect of the item is nothing near a real Rolex. And a Masseur that has no education, no certification, no license and no respect for the work that real trained practitioners do – is not Massage Therapist.

The fact that she was doing this research, made me - yes, piggy back her - by recovering some info to share as well. During my training at the Swedish Institute, they encourage us to always refer to ourselves and those who are qualified in our field as Therapists – not just because that is the official term, but because it will give you a more authoritative first step when dispelling these sad sexual stereotypes.I think the fact that I am still in training molds much of the foundation of my response to this stigma. The Swedish Institute has required Professional Development classes where they addressed this issue. First, they have encouraged us to learn where and why this connection was originally made. We were encouraged to read In Good Hands: The History of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy by Dr Jean Barclay. In it I learned that due to the lack of work for women in Europe at that turn of the century and the need for work, woman who had no training decided to still try to give massages for money. Queen Victoria was openly supportive of massage therapy so these untrained women thought – why not do it anyway? There was also a history that earlier in 1884 – Doctors were becoming jealous of the attention massage was getting for healing and rehabilitation effects, and they accused even educated therapist of stealing their patients. Leaving no support for the woman who had not earned the right to call themselves true therapists, they went underground. Only finding a place to set up shop in brothels. This movement propelled the Society of Trained Masseuses – leading the way for all legit Massage Therapists. From that point on practitioners had to publicly earn the title of Massage Therapist. School became required. Exams were sat and certification was needed to work. It was because of the growth in illegal massage workers setting up in the only place they were “allowed” that gave way for licensing, rigorous text and practical learning. Sadly, it was also because of this joining of fake bodyworkers and brothels that tarnished the name of a profession that had been respected and appreciated for over 4000 years!

I encourage you to check out Punkie's work, it is informative and important! For the full article by Punkie Speltz please visit her blog

September 03, 2009

Giving Back: Community Heath Action of Staten Island

I believe it is not only a responsibility but an honor to give the good that we have to others. I hope to have many chances to be a part of spreading awareness and health with my training and throughout my Massage Therapy career. This is the first place I am going to start...

Community Heath Action (formerly the Staten Island AIDS Task Force) is a not for non-profit community-based organization that educates Staten Islanders about HIV and AIDS. I will be joining them for their Annual Holistic Health Fair for People Living with Aids and their friends. Some LMT's have already decided to donate their time and hands for this event and if you want to as well here are the details:

What: Community Heath Action of Staten Island Health Fair
When: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 from 6pm – 9pm
Where: Christ Episcopal Church at 76 Franklin Avenue, SI, NY 10301

If you need more information, feel free to contact me and I'll get you talking to the right folks!

I'll post about the event when the time comes and if you have any events that could used some support from Mending Hands - Please share them with me!

September 02, 2009

The Rub Down IV

World Reflexology Week is September 20th - 26th!

I absolutely adore getting my feet worked on and with everything I have begun to learn about Eastern Medicine and Shiatsu Massage - I am excitedly researching a place to make an appointment to get a reflexology session. If anyone reading has a place they would like to suggest in the NYC area - Let me know!

The Reflexology Association of Canada
defines reflexology as: A natural healing art based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet, hands and ears and their referral areas within zone related areas, which correspond to every part, gland and organ of the body. Through application of pressure on these reflexes without the use of tools, crèmes or lotions, the feet being the primary area of application, reflexology relieves tension, improves circulation and helps promote the natural function of the related areas of the body.

Reflexology works with zones and the flow of Qi - which is stongly based in Shiatsu beliefs. Yet according to some research I found by Paula S. Stone at the Massage Therapy Journal this practice has an international history. She cites that: In 2500 BC pictographs were found of reflex therapy in the tomb of the physician Ankhmahor in Saqqara, Egypt and in India reflex therapies support religious practices that integrate life, health, and spirituality. It wasn't until The Neurological Society of London, founded in 1885, provided a forum in which scientifically based neurological studies that included reflex action were conducted, presented, published and shared throughout Europe and the United States. This catapulted the practice of reflex therapy from folk medicine to the realm of science. Following these findings, Dr. William Fitzgerald in 1913 was credited to be at the forefront of the United States journey into zone therapy and reflexology.

Reflexology Week is supported by the International Council of Reflexologists and if you are interested - their website has many promotional templates for practictioners to help spread awareness on this healthful practice.

Like many of the Rub Down posts, this is the tip of the iceberg of knowledge to be gained! And I look forward to learning more! You have some time until the week of September 20th - 26th, so I encourage you to reap the benefits of a full body massage through the zones in your feet. I will be sure to let you know about my first experience with reflexology in an upcoming Spa Scoop post for the celebration of World Reflexology week!

September 01, 2009

A List of Good Things

A list of some things I am smiling about today...

1. I have officially been accepted to full time status at the Swedish Institute and am excited to extend my learning to 5 days a week!

2. For the first time in my life, I was required....required!!! to buy white pants. The good part is that they are part of my Public Clinic Uniform for next semester and they are also required to be Karate pants - which makes them a little more tough and awesome!

3. I have new business cards! Mainly to promote this blog - but hey, why not be excited about that?

4. I have put some feelers out to do some volunteer work with other massage therapists and wellness resources. So I'll keep my fingers crossed that something will work out and more opportunities will pop up.

5. I have a week left of summer vacation. Although I will very much enjoy that time I am also ready to get back into class!