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The wacky-sounding massage methods you shouldn’t ignore

While massage, acupuncture, and even rolfing have more or less entered the mainstream, methods like craniosacral therapy and myofascial release remain shrouded in an aura of mystery.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand what they are or do,” says Heather Mikesell, executive editor of American Spa Magazine, “which makes them a much more difficult sell.”

In New York, practitioners must be licensed as a massage or physical therapist in order to offer these treatments. Most learn craniosacral therapy from the Upledger Institute and myofascial release from John Barnes’ seminars, the Harvard and Yale of these methods, although there are many other schools.

Tatiana Martushev, a New York City-based therapist at the top of her game, who specializes in these healing modalities, gave us time on her therapeutic table—and explained how these work and who they’re best for.

Tatiana Martushev
Tatiana Martushev

CranioSacral Therapy
What? A light hands-on therapy that restores balance to the nervous system
How? I place my hands on the feet, hips, ribs and head to measure the rhythm of the craniosacral system (the cerebrospinal fluid, as it laps up to the brain and down the spinal cord). When I find the problem area, I gently work with the connective tissue to release any restrictions or adhesions that may be putting pressure on the nerve. The pressure is about 5 grams (a nickel).
Who? It’s great for those with migraines, mild depression, musculoskeletal imbalances, or chronic pain. This is not the therapy for the type A “no pain, no gain” crowd—it requires a patient person who is invested in a slow, gentle recovery.

Myofascial Release (MFR)
What? Myo = muscle. Fascial = connective tissue. Myofascial release targets the tension between the connective tissue and the muscle. Those hard-to-reach “snags.”
How? I firmly but gently exert pressure to stretch the tissue and then wait for it to stretch, expand, or soften.
Who? Great for a range of things—from injuries to scoliosis and other postural problems. This is for those who want a firm touch, but aren’t necessarily craving the pain involved in deep tissue massage. —Lisa Elaine Held

Tatiana Martushev, LMT; $130 for 60 minutes; 118 E. 37th St., btwn Park and Lexington Aves., 917-593-5982, [email protected]