The launch of our new Daily Renew Body Oil has had us thinking a lot about massage and its benefits. We reached out to Becky Raik, Licensed Massage Therapist and Co-Owner of Melt Massage & Bodywork in Brooklyn, NY to “talk shop” and learn more about her practice.
Hello there! I’m Becky Raik and my wife Alexis and I own Melt Massage & Bodywork in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Becky, what inspired you to pursue massage therapy as a career?
It's a long story but the short answer involves teaching middle school and that not being the best job for me, then starting a non-profit but needing to make money in a flexible profession. I've always loved giving massages as early as my childhood days at summer camp — I just never imagined I might make a career of it. And then I went to massage school and absolutely fell in love with the work and haven’t looked back. I’ve always been a caretaker but this felt different. Learning all the science and being able to use touch to help affect change was (and still is) very gratifying for me. As a personal bonus, doing this work has helped me bridge the (sometimes massive) divide between my mind and my body. Not only do I get to care for others, but this work helps me to care for myself.
Tell us about Melt Massage & Bodywork.
Melt Massage & Bodywork is a space where people can — with the support of wonderful and talented licensed massage therapists — connect to, care for, and heal themselves; not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. We have seen unending proof that therapeutic and prenatal massage is meaningful and beneficial healthcare. Massage keeps us moving. It can mitigate or even eliminate pain. It helps us manage the stress the world places on us and maintain balance in both body and mind. We resist the notion that it is a luxury, an extravagance. To this end, we have always kept our prices on the low end of the spectrum to provide an accessible option for people who want to make massage a part of their healthcare routines.
Communicating with clients and understanding what they're hoping to get out of their session is our highest priority. We don't believe that a neck and shoulder massage should cost any different than a full body. If your issues beg for heat, we may integrate a heat pack or some hot stones into your session. Our approach diverges from the spa template where there might be a menu of services to choose from. Our model more closely aligns with massage as a part of an individual’s healthcare routine. Regardless of the particular reason a client has sought out a massage — a specific injury, a chronic issue, or just to destress and relax — our approach is always thoughtful and completely focused on the client.
When you say “bodywork”, what does that mean?
Great question! The simplest answer is that bodywork is the larger umbrella that massage falls under. We kept it in our name because we wanted to leave space for the therapists to include other modalities beyond the Swedish, myofascial, Shiatsu, and Thai massage we learned in school. Reflexology, Reiki, and craniosacral therapy are all types of bodywork that some folks might not consider to be “massage” exactly, but are all extremely beneficial and can be incorporated into a therapeutic or prenatal session to great benefit. The overarching goal of most bodywork is to create balance in the body whether that is muscular, circulatory, energetic, or otherwise.
Can you talk to us about the benefits of massage?
Absolutely! The benefits of massage are vast and varied. If we’re talking physical benefits, massage increases circulation and helps to relieve muscle pain by increasing blood flow, breaking up adhesions (aka knots) and loosening/relaxing tight or seizing tissue. These conditions can cause acute and sometimes chronic pain or discomfort so in a most basic sense, the goal of many massage sessions is to give a client relief from pain. The effects of massage are cumulative so sometimes for long-lasting benefits, regular massage for a period of time is indicated. But massage also has powerful and vital emotional and psychological benefits as well. One of the primary goals of massage therapists at Melt is to create a safe and open space for clients so that they can freely communicate their needs and feel supported and nurtured. Of course, massage can offer an immense amount of stress relief, but allowing the nervous system to calm down does far more than chill you out. Relieving stress can help with digestion, sleep, concentration, and mood. Massage is really just the best!
And what about the role of massage or bodywork as we age? Do you have any advice for us?
Most of us who have felt changes in our bodies from, say, our 20s, know that we can’t get away as easily with ignoring our body’s needs as we age. Over time our joints, muscles, and bones start to feel the effects of all the work we’ve asked them to do over the years. Massage for maintenance and prevention can be really valuable in staving off acute situations and the onset of degenerative conditions. Women in particular suffer from conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis, which massage can help mitigate and manage. Our muscles tend to start overcompensating when joints are weak or unstable, and massage can alleviate the pain resulting from those overworked muscles. And then there are the conditions that the broader medical community hasn’t quite figured out yet like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. These conditions are also overwhelmingly diagnosed in women but since they are defined by a collection of symptoms rather than a clear understanding of the cause or root, massage can be a vital component of a treatment plan. Beyond specific conditions, massage is also a great way to stay limber, embodied, and connected. The circulatory and stress relieving benefits help with everything all the way from the skin to the heart.
We’re sold! We couldn’t agree more that massage and bodywork in general are deeply meaningful to our overall wellness and wellbeing. Any tips for us at home?