Professional Performers: Christa Ludwig, Alexandra Danilova, Isaac Stern

Located in Carnegie Hall, Shmuel Tatz’s studio is in the center of New York’s artistic community. And with good reason. Many of Tatz’s clients are virtuoso performers whose work places unusual stress of their bodies. This is the kind of stress Tatz has honed his Body Tuning methods to relieve.

Isaac Stern is one of the many violinists who has benefitted from Tatz’s help over the years. “Not only is Shmuel an enormously gifted, highly trained experienced physical therapist,” says Stern, “he is also knowledgeable in the unique needs of artists who so often have problems that are caused by professional work.”

Whether it is the musician’s repeated motion of bowing a violin, the singer’s breathing techniques or the dancer’s wear and tear on muscles and joints, all performing artists demand a lot of their bodies.

“My instrument is my body, and I need a healthy body to be able to sing,” says Crista Ludwig, one of the world’s great sopranos who performs internationally. When she is in New York to sing at the Metropolitan Opera, she makes a point to visit Tatz for Body Tuning.

“My back is always the first to go,” she explains. “The breathing I do as a singer involves holding my breath when letting the tone out and slowly breathing with it. If I have a long phrase to sing, holding my breath can make my back very stiff. On top of that, if I am nervous it always goes to my back.

“Shmuel has very special hands,” she adds. “He always goes deeper than massage and really works with the joints. When I am with him I can feel where the problem is. He relieves my tension and as a result my voice always gets better.”

Another thing Tatz has taught her is the importance of exercise. “We singers are always shrinking because we don’t move,” says Ludwig. “We sit in planes or in taxis or we stand on stage, but we don’t do any kind of sport. Shmuel really knows the right exercises for each age and body weight.”

The importance of taking good care of you body as you get older cannot be over-stresses, says Tatz. In the performing arts this is particularly true of dancers for whom endless hours of training ultimately takes its toll. Alexandra Danilova whose career as a ballerina has spanned much of this century and some of the most famous ballet companies worldwide, including the Maryinsky in Russia, the Diaghlev in London, and the School of American Ballet in New York where she taught for many years, works with Tatz for just this reason.

“When you dance you must look after your muscles,” she says. “One cannot neglect a little pain, you must take care of it and learn exercises to do to stay healthy.”

Danilova continues to live by this principal in her retirement and goes to Tatz once a week for Body Tuning. “I still work on my whole body,” she says. “I don’t want to stop or I’ll get stiff.”

“Shmuel really appreciates dancers,” she adds. “He knows the way their bodies work.” Ballet, she explains, has many parallels with Yoga. Exercises such as the pontes de bras and adagio come directly from Yoga. The reason Body Tuning is so effective for dancers, she says, is that it too is based on Yoga and therefore is a natural extension of the exercises dancers do in Ballet.

For Ludwig and Danilova Tatz’s work shows a particular sensitivity to the art. But Body Tuning for both has not just been physical therapy and massage to relieve pain or stress. Working with Tatz, they say, has taught them important new ways to think about movement. This influence has enabled them to work by them selves on using their bodies in a way that is more relaxing and, in the long term, more healthy. “Because I have a bad back it is often painful to move,” says Danilova. “But Shmuel has found a way to help me stand up straight. I have to say to myself ‘I am the queen.’ It feels a little strange every time I say it, but it really helps me to balance. If I don’t say this when I get up in the morning I find my self falling into a droopy position, saying this reminds me to hold myself up.” Ludwig says Tatz has changed her sense that exercise needs to be done quickly. “Every time he shows me exercises he always reminds me to do them slowly. I can always hear him say it, ‘slowly … slowly.’ Now that I have realized the importance of this I am dissatisfied when working with anyone who is not Shmuel.”

Both Danilova and Stern agree. Tatz’s highly developed technique and sensitivity to performing artists is unparalleled. “It is not only too rare to find this combination,” says Stern. “He can be an invaluable aid to any performing artist.”

by Alice Nadine

Alternative Treatments Can Benefit Musicians: Body Tuning

The physical problems of musicians, particularly injuries due to misuse of the body, have received considerable attention in recent years. Most of the interest has been focused on resolving injuries that already exist, rather than on preventing these injuries. A recent discussion with Shmuel Tatz – a rather remarkable Manhattan-based physical therapist and physical education specialist – provided some important perspectives on these subjects.

Tatz has worked with hundreds of musicians during his career, including such artists as Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin and Vladimir Ashkenazy. He has also worked with countless ballet dancers, and with people who work in other fields. When asked how the average musician’s case compares to that of a dancer or a person who works outside the arts, Tatz pointed out that “everything we do in life can lead to physical problems. It’s just a question of when in life the problems begin. For a dancer, the problems usually start between the ages of 15 and 20; for a musician, between 20 and 30; for someone who has a desk job, between 30 and 40.”

Why this discrepancy? “Dancers have problems the soonest, because they demand so much from their bodies that they abuse themselves. Mussicians, on the other hand, are often taught early on to ignore their bodies. Frequently, when a teacher or parent discovers that a child is musically gifted, the child will be discouraged from engaging in normal physical activities, such as sports. This is very bad for physical development. It can prevent the child from acquiring the strength, flexibility and endurance that serious instrumental study and performance require. It may also set the stage for problems later on.”

A knowledgeable, attentive teacher should recommend that a student’s parents allow normal amounts of physical activities. In addition, teachers’ understanding and awareness of what may turn out to be physical misdevelopment in their students, coupled with referrals for physical therapy when required, can go a long way towards reducing these problems in childhood and afterwards.

“Unlike a ballet dancer, musicians generally require only normal strength and flexibility, to perform at a peak level,” Tatz said. “What is surprising is how many musicians don’t have even normal mobility. Often, the development is uneven – an arm is too flexible in one direction and stiff in the other, and therefore unstable.” Specific physical training is not the norm among musicians. “In fact, musicians are frequently taught to disregard the body, to be result-oriented – only the musical product matters, no matter what kind of physical deprivation or damage is required to achieve that end. In general, people are taught to see a health practitioner, such as a physician or physical therapist, only when they are already sick or injured. In my opinion, that is waiting too long. People need to seek out physical educators and medical doctors who are willing to help someone who is healthy to stay that way, so that certain avoidable problems can be prevented from ever occurring.”

What about adult musicians who are already suffering from physical problems? Tatz uses a unique approach called “Body Tuning” in his work as a physical therapist. “The body is an instrument that needs to be kept in tune, just like a violin or an automobile. When a musician comes to see me, I try to address not only the specific problem he is having, but also more general aspects of movement and posture.”

Tatz’s Body Tuning draws on a diverse combination of Eastern and Western disciplines. One component of his approach is “manual medicine” – hand-on physical therapy, a discipline to which he ascribes European and Australian origins. Manual medicine served as the focus of his studies in Israel. His earlier studies in Russia dealt with the use of “therapeutic modalities” such as laser therapy, microcurrents, ultrasound and magnetic therapy. “Russia is 15 to 20 years ahead of the West in these high-tech applications,” Tatz explains. “These approaches have caught on in the West only during the last ten years. In Russia, electrical modalities and magnetic therapy were already in use in the 1950s.”

Tatz also incorporates disciplines from the Far East, such as yoga, Tai Chi, energetic healing and acupuncture, as well as Western adaptations such as the Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques.

When working with a patient, Tatz begins by trying to establish a spiritual rapport. “I want a musician to feel that I understand what it means to be a professional musician, that I know how much energy and passion go into making music, and what the physical demands are. If a pianist, for example, knows that I understand his art and way of life, he will trust me to help him to take proper care of his body. This trust is the most critical aspect of my work with the patient.” After a personal connection has been made, Tatz begins by testing the mobility in the patient’s joints, the flexibility and strength of the muscles, and the condition of ligaments and tendons.

The second step is to help loosen tight joints or muscles through hands-on manipulation of parts of the body. Next, Tatz shows the patient exercises that can be done on one’s own to increase flexibility and strength in the areas that need improvement. “I start with the specific problem or injury, but in the back of my head I am always thinking of the patient’s general health. Once the particular problem is fixed, I go on to do a more general tuning, as a mechanic would tune up an automobile after replacing a defective part.

“Afterward, I might make some more general suggestions. These suggestions could deal with general physical health, including diet (in which case I have sometimes referred patients to a dietician)m and physical presentation on stage, which is extremely important for performers, but which teachers often neglect to address. The way in which a performer moves on stage is a crucial factor in establishing a connection with the audience.”

The last step in the process is finding out what kinds of physical activity the patient enjoys. According to Tatz, finding a physical activity that someone really enjoys is the best way to ensure that the patient will continue to exercise effectively. Continued exercise is critical, because it is “only when a musician can fully enjoy playing his instrument.” And that is, after all, the kind of enjoyment that musicians seek.

Allegro: Associated Musicians of Greater New York
By Richard L. Simon and Adam C. Fisher

Physical therapy for foot and ankle injuries

Thanks to Shmuel Tatz! A Healing Story

The day that I became injured is still very clear in my mind but unfortunately even more clear in my body.  I had gone to a chiropractor that I had very little experience due to the fact that my long time chiropractor in New York City had moved to California a few years ago.   Since this new chiropractor was a few blocks from my home, I thought I would give him a try.  Unfortunately, something terrible happened while lying on my back on his treatment table.  He grabbed one ankle and pulled very hard – I screamed in pain – but without even a hesitation he then grabbed my right ankle and again pulled very hard.  I heard an audible pop sound and again the pain was excruciating.  But this time my heart sank, because something felt very wrong in my foot and ankle.  All the energy seemed to drain from my foot and leg.  When I returned home the ankle began to swell and it felt very much like a severe sprain.

I could not put my weight on the foot without experiencing pain.  A week later I went to a podiatrist who said I had a sprain.  He taped it up and sent me home.  By the second night I had to tear the tape off because of the pain and swelling.  A few weeks later I went to an orthopedist, who again determined that I had a sprain and told me to wait a couple of weeks.  He then ordered an MRI which showed no fractures or breaks.  He told me to go to physical therapy. I found a local physical therapy unit and went 3 times a week for 2 months.  Still my ankle was painful day and night.   I spent long hours researching this type of injury on the internet.   To make a long story short, I ended up seeing an acupuncturist,  another podiatrist and yet another type of physical therapy with no relief in site.  I spent many long days in severe pain, crying while lying on my couch.   I could no longer sleep without Tylenol PM and always woke with the same pain in my foot. This brought on a severe depression.  Now almost 5 months had past and I still could not walk without experiencing pain.  It felt like a nail was shooting through my ankle.  My life had changed so drastically.  I used to walk at least a mile or 2 a day – and now I could only hobble around my apartment.

One day after spending a few hours reading and researching on foot and ankle injuries on the internet I came across Shmuel Tatz’s website.  I read with interest the relief that many famous ballet dancers had found at Tatz’s studio.   These were professionals who needed to dance again – I just wanted to walk again – perhaps he could help me.

Entering the studio in Carnegie Hall, you immediately feel the presence and an atmosphere of healing.   Shmuel introduced himself and made me feel relaxed and at home in his treatment room.   I then lay down on his treatment table and for the first time felt someone with truly gifted hands on my foot.  He worked on my foot for a good 45 minutes – but really this was like nothing I have ever felt before.  It was as if his hands have x-ray vision, going exactly to the stuck places and working, working and finally moving the position of the bones, tendons and ligaments.  And then the relief.  A little wave of relief.   By the third visit with Shmuel, I finally felt my foot in the proper position so that I was not longer in agony 24/7.   My pain after 5 visits has been reduced 95%.   I still feel pain after walking but to a lot less extent then before, and I am confident that with Shmuel’s help – I will get better.   I have so much gratitude for the talent and healing abilities of Shmuel Tatz.  He is a truly gifted man.

By Jill Siegel

Double Acts

Shmuel Tatz is the favoured physiotherapist of many of Manhattan’s Leading Musicians, among them New York Philharmonic Violinist Hanna Lachert

Physical Therapist Shmuel Tatz and Violinist Hanna Lachert

I WAS INTRODUCED TO HANNA ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO THROUGH her husband, the Manhattan violin maker David Segal; she has been a regular client ever since.

Eighty per cent of her treatment is using hands only and for the other 20 per cent she gets individualized exercises. Just like a violin pupil plays a sonata at their lesson and the teacher after listening to it makes some suggestions, big and small, so only when I am touching or watching the body can I maneuver it and give some suggestions, some ideas. Hanna’s a very good student as, like most musicians, she has the discipline needed to practice. You don’t need to rush to the tuner, you can do self-tuning – if you have problems you need to go to the master, but mostly you can do it on your own.

I wish in our sessions we could talk about the interpretation of music – I can only listen, to hear how in tune the body is. When I’m working on a musician’s body I’m listening with my fingers, my hands; I can feel the vibrations of every muscle, every joint and every organ.

One thing I have learnt from Hanna is not to wait when we have some little problem – the sooner you go to the tuner, the less time it takes to get better. With Hanna, any discomfort in the body – perhaps she feels something a little bit out of tune – and she immediately calls and makes an appointment; it takes a couple of sessions and everything’s OK. She doesn’t wait until the body starts to scream and needs to takes some drug straight away.

I often hear Hanna play. I recently heard her in piano trios by Rachmaninoff, Chopin and her composer brother Piotr. I’m crazy about piano trios, so I enjoyed that very much. Fortunately she’s a very active chamber player and doesn’t only work with the Philharmonic. But not long ago I also heard her play in Verdi’s Requiem. Afterwards we were having some supper together and she was so excited – she said, ‘This time not only you had fun but I had fun.’ It’s a great piece – 90 minutes felt like 15 or 20.

I’ve learnt so much from Hanna and other musicians about their particular physiological challenges and ailments – things that other health professionals haven’t always grasped. For example, I’ve had violinists with shoulder problems who have been to very well-known orthopedists. One of them had a session following a famous tennis player who had got over a shoulder complaint by switching arms – so the orthopedist suggested the same for the violinist! It shows such little understanding of violinists! Hanna knows to phone me before she has an injection or gets some medicine; she knows to trust me.

THE FIRST TIME I SAW SHMUEL WAS AT MY HUSBAND’S SHOP; he was with a violinist friend of his who was one of my husband’s clients. That fellow was raving how fantastic Shmuel is. I was skeptical at first – just another physiotherapist. He insisted on demonstrating right there on the floor what he could do and it was encouraging. So I said alright, I’ll try. And true enough I was very much impressed and have been going to him ever since, whenever I have a problem.

In my case it’s often my shoulder, but recently I had some swollen joints and he was able to help with that – which borders on a miracle! My husband, David, once twisted his ankle so that he was on crutches, painkillers – you name it. The next day we called Shmuel, who said to just come over; we drove there and an hour later David walked back to his work.

My sessions with him don’t involve me playing, but he will show me exercises to improve my condition. On a basic level he told me always to pay attention to the way I sit, the way I drive, what’s happening to my shoulders when I write or am at the computer – basic things about posture that we tend to forget. That’s on top of his manipulations. He also uses some electronic devices – I’m not sure what they are, but I trust him!

“When I met Shmuel he insisted on demonstrating his treatment right there on the floor.”

We usually talk about music, because Shmuel loves it and he goes to many, many concerts. He’s very knowledgeable and strongly opinionated about who he likes and who he doesn’t and why. He comes and hears me with the New York Philharmonic perhaps once or twice a month, and he comes to practically all my chamber music concerts. He doesn’t like too much new music, but at my last concert at BargeMusic I played a piece written for me and my piano trio by my brother, and Shmuel said he liked it. It was only written last year, so very contemporary – I was happy that he could appreciate it.

We’ve long been friends and he sometimes comes to us for dinner or festivals such as Passover. We have a tradition on the first of January of an open house; all our friends come with their instruments and we play chamber music, accompanied by food and wine. He’s been to that several times and he even surprised me once and revealed e can pay the piano.

The Strad
Interviews by Matthew Rye

Shmuel Tatz: The Divine Touch

Shmuel Tatz PT PhDHeadlined as the “Therapist as Shaman” by The New York Times, Shmuel Tatz, P.T., Ph.D., is a physical therapist providing relief for his clients when they have been unable to find it elsewhere. Located on the eighth floor of the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City, Tatz is the star of his own show, the Tatz Studio—a healing arts studio—attracting numerous celebrities, classical musicians and prominent business personalities throughout the world.

Practicing his unique system of Body Tuning and physical therapy, Tatz has treated such glitterati as renowned composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, singers Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed; actors F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Berkley, Elaine May, Marlo Thomas, and Kathleen Turner; Mets baseball star Mookie Wilson; world-class violinists Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern; prima ballerinas Nina Ananiashvili, Alexandra Danilova and Susan Jaffe; German soprano Christa Ludwig; Bach specialist Rosalyn Tureck, and TV personalities Peter Jennings and Jane Pauley.

Isaac Stern, who had seen Tatz for two decades, described him as a genius. “Not only is Shmuel Tatz an enormously gifted, highly trained and experienced physical therapist, he is also knowledgeable of the unique needs of artists who so often have problems that are caused by professional work over the years.”

More impressive than his illustrious client list is the list of ailments he has been able to treat. His Web page lists almost 100 of them, everything from back and neck problems, sports and occupational injuries, stress- and tension-related problems, age-related stiffness, to neurological and orthopedic disorders. He also participates in the integrated treatment of depression, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, allergies, acne, insomnia, osteoporosis-the list goes on and on. Despite his extremely busy schedule, Tatz never makes himself too important or preoccupied to personally return phone calls and answer all questions with earnest sincerity.


At 58 years young, Tatz possesses an uncanny ability to assess the physical situation of his clients solely by scanning their bodies, and, as if by divine guidance, his hands intuitively know where to begin the healing process. Tatz is hesitant to attribute any of his healing abilities to anything other than hard work, dedication to his craft and years of experience. In today’s glitzy new-age health world, his impeccable integrity, Yiddish sense of humor and earthy hands-on approach is refreshingly real and tangible. Nothing about his treatments are so ethereal that a layman cannot directly experience the impact.

“I tell people, that if you have come to my office to tell your story, you are in the wrong place. If you have already been to 10 places and you have told everybody your story and you are still here, so everything you are telling me I don’t need to know. I need to know what you are not saying. Now, on the table!! With my hands I’ll figure it out.”
It is rare that any client leaves the Tatz Studio without a marked physical improvement. His goal is to reeducate detrimental patterns in the body and teach the client new ways of living and using muscles. Through treatment and education, Tatz restores health and balance and seeks to wean the client away from outside intervention.

Using a cross-modality of different techniques, Tatz combines the best of Western medicine with the more energetically based practices of the East.

“Every patient who comes to me is experiencing pain or discomfort at a different level,” he explains, “and in order to assist each one appropriately, I must have a large repertoire to draw from. One modality is not enough to help every person who walks in the door.”

Some of the modalities he utilizes are: Auriculo therapy, shortwave diathermy, magnetic therapy, sound therapy (ultrasound), light therapy (ML 830® Laser), electrical stimulation and manual therapy, as well as Postural Integration®, tai chi, lyengar yoga, reflex therapy and hydrotherapy.

For clients who come from out of town for Tatz’s special Body Tuning® techniques, he recommends treatment twice a day for one week, once in the morning and then again in the early evening. Eighty-five percent of his clients suffering from acute pain are relieved after five days. He also treats clients who are hospitalized after an operation and need some fine-tuning. “Like a car after an accident, the body has parts replaced and then needs a tune-up. Especially if the patient is lying in a hospital bed for too long, the body becomes uncomfortable. The neck and back become disjointed and need some adjustments.” Tatz suggests body tuning twice a week for these cases.

Tatz’s therapy office resonates with European flavor and is staffed with mostly other Russian practioners. Marina, his receptionist, Russian as well, greets patients with, “Allo, how can I help you?” Tatz laughs about this. “You can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the boy.” He may have found success in America, but he is still a Litvak at heart. Fluent in six languages—Lithuanian, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, English and German—Tatz is proud to assume his Hebrew name and honored to have the opportunities that American freedom has availed him. “There is no question that America is the goldene medina,” Tatz adds. “Americans are very lucky and don’t even realize it. Their biggest problem was the War of Independence and life has been a honeymoon since then. In Europe, people today are still fighting about existence.”

Fiercely independent, Tatz realizes he needs to be at the top of his field in order to succeed. He is hesitant to make referrals unless he is absolutely certain that the referring physician is top-notch and trustworthy. He always encourages his clients to thoroughly check out doctors who are recommended by other doctors as “friends.” The idea of kickbacks infuriates him, so for the most part he operates as a sole proprietor. “Americans are naive. If you go to see a doctor with a big degree from Oxford or Cambridge and he has a British accent, what does this mean? You need to ask questions.”


Shmuel Tatz PT

Born in Lithuania in 1946 to two Jewish Holocaust survivors, a secular father and Zionist mother, Tatz knew from the age of 5 that his destiny was to live in Israel. Lithuania, at that time, was not a friendly place for a Jewish family and Tatz reminisces that he was reminded in the streets a few times a day that he was a Jew. “My father was a partisan and my mother escaped from the ghetto and they met in the woods in 1944. They each had had previous spouses and children when they met, but all known family members had been killed.”

Life behind the Iron Curtain was extremely limited and even the mention of immigration before the early ’70s was a violation resulting in a sentence to Siberia. So when immigration did finally start to open up, Tatz applied and had to wait two years before receiving his visa. With much encouragement from his family, Tatz immigrated to Israel in 1973 to build a new life, with his family planning to follow after him. “My mother was a very strong Zionist—she was Shomer Hatzair—and we always had talks about Israel in my home.” Tatz’s mother was the only one to actually follow him to Eretz Yisroel, as his father passed away in Lithuania and his brother continues to live there till this day.

Tatz spent the majority of his time as a young man in Lithuania learning how to work with his hands as a healer. He remembers conversing with his father that the only thing he could take with him to Israel were his hands, so this is where he should invest his time and money. After training as a dancer, Tatz transferred his interests and studied for four years to become a medical exercise physician. He later moved to Moscow to study medical massage and in the early ’70s, he worked on the bodies of Soviet Olympic athletes.

“The Eastern European techniques at the time I was in college were much more advanced than their counterpart schools in the West.” Tatz continues, “However, there is one thing that cannot be taught in these schools and that is how to touch. Impossible.” Tatz contends that like learning piano, or any other instrument, touch can only be taught one on one. So Tatz found himself a good shaygetz hands-on healer and followed him arouna Russia to learn the trade.

Upon moving to Israel in 1973, Tatz received a full scholarship from the Sochnut to study traditional physical therapy at Wingate Institute in Tel Aviv. Tatz recounts these times as some of the happiest in his life.

“Many of my old teachers in Israel were immigrants from Germany, trainea in the Eastern European traditions of touch therapy, while the young teachers in Israel were from America and brought the hi-tech therapies like ultrasound. So this was the combination of the highest standards of training available.”

He also had the opportunity to study acupuncture, tai chi and yoga as well as Feldenkrais technique with the native originator of the modality, Moshe Feldenkrais. His first job out of Wingate was working with critically injured people in Jerusalem at Hadassah Hospital, and later he moved on to become the physical therapist for the Israeli soccer team, Beitar Yerushalayim.

Tatz smiles. “Every Jewish mother wants her son to become a doctor or a lawyer. I just didn’t have the talent for these professions. So, my cousin recommended that maybe I would enjoy physical therapy, since it involves a lot of ergonomics and movement. And since it’s a little bit like medicine, my mother would be happy, too. So I have been practicing this profession for almost 35 years and I still enjoy it and learn every day.”

Tatz’s superlative talents transverse many worlds. While concurrently working with the Israeli soccer team, Tatz opened up a private practice in Mea Shearimthe ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem. “I still remember my address, Shifteh Yisroel, shloshim vashmona,” he smirks.

“My office there was a three-ring circus. At the same time I was a Shabbos goy running with the soccer players on Shabbos, I was treating yeshiva bochers sitting and learning all day. The soccer players would come to my office in their shorts and the bocherim would come with their Gemorrahs. I will never forget this in my life. I had the honor to treat the Gerer Rebbe, the Slonim Rebbe, and many other talmidim chachamim. These people are always leaning over their books, learning and thinking, and this creates tremendous tension in the neck and back.”

Because Tatz spoke fluent Yiddish, all the most prominent rabbis and rebbetzins came for treatment (in Orthodox tradition, a woman cannot touch a man, but a man can touch a woman as her medical practitioner) and his popularity blossomed amongst the am kashei oref-the nation of stiff-necked people. As a result, numerous articles were written in Israeli newspapers about Tatz’s healing services amongst Israel’s most religious.

Tatz was also a tremendous advocate of physical activity in the yeshivas. He introduced baseball, soccer and basketball to many of the boys. “I saw in the color of the boys’ faces that they had zero physical activity, that their musculoskeletal system was in terrible condition, and that this brings other health problems.” Tatz admits that he received his Jewish education working in this ultra-Orthodox community. “On the holidays, the rabbis would give me wine, kosher brachas and invitations to their homes.”

An attractive young classical pianist, Golda Vainberg, also a fellow Litvak studying at the Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, once came to his office in Jerusalem. She had been suffering from tendinitis and was unable to play. After only one month of treatment, she was back to her piano and shortly afterward they married. Lucky for Tatz, Vainberg referred to him many of Israel’s finest classical musicians, as well as some of her fellow students at Juilliard. Yehudi Menuhin, Midori, pianists Bella Davidovich, Leon Fleisher, Richard Goode, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Isaac Stern and Rosalyn Tureck came by word of mouth, hearing about Tatz and his intuitive sense of the inner life of a classical musician. When Vainberg received a scholarship from Israel to study at Juilliard in New York City, the Tatzes packed their bags and in 1984 headed west.

Arriving in New York, Tatz had a difficult time reestablishing his practice. He had much experience and knowledge, but no license. One of Tatz’s friends suggested that he establish his practice as an unlicensed (he has since become licensed in New York) “body tuner.” Tatz continues, “Alexander did it, Feldenkrais did it, so I figured, why not me? So let’s make a name that sounds more musical-how ’bout, ‘Body Tuning®’? Now that’s geshmack,” he laughs. Two of Tatz’s patients, Isaac Stern and James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank and then chairman of Carnegie Hall, got him an office there. Twenty years later, Tatz continues to practice his body tuning in this same studio.

“Some people say I have a gift. I only know that I put my life energy into my work and I truly want to help. When somebody puts their hands on you, you can tell if this person wants to help or they are using their hands as if this was just their job.” There is a Jewish saying: “Those who bless, too, shall be blessed.” And after visiting Shmuel Tatz, they feel that they have been blessed with the divine touch.

Lifestyles Magazine
By Leslie Russel

The Best of Both Worlds

Alternative and traditional approaches can be incorporated into a physical therapy career

From inside his clinic in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Lithuanian native Shmuel Tatz, PT, works his wonders on the likes of renowned composer Andrew Lloyd Weber, ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, violinist Isaac Stern and prima ballerina Susan Jaffe, as well as a full roster of “regular” folk.

They come seeking relief from performance-related injuries: pianist and writers appear with neck and shoulder strains; dancers with hip, knee and back pain. But more than half of Tatz’s clients have more standard ailments, such as arthritis, slipped disks and Parkinson’s disease.

Continue reading “The Best of Both Worlds”

Auricular Therapy

To Feel Peace In Your Body

The traditional systems of medicine from the Asian cultures have always included some type of massage stimulation to the ears. When you work on your ears you will notice that within two to three minutes of vigorous massage your ears will get hot. This is caused by the increase of blood flow to the area. The Chinese say that when the blood is increased to an area, the healing energy is increased to that area as well. The increased energy to the ears is thought to stimulate the acupuncture reflexes, which in turn stimulate the related organs, tissues and glands. This is because the ears are heavily laced with reflex nerve connections through the brain to all parts of the body. Ear reflex stimulates the productivity of important neurotransmitters such as endorphin, which is known to be a natural painkiller and an agent causing a sense of overall well-being.

Auricular Therapy

Continue reading “Auricular Therapy”

Shortwave Diathermy

In health care, there’s no substitute for clinical skill, judgment and decision making. These essentials help you diagnose, manage and treat a host of patients. But sometimes, you need help to achieve treatment goals. In those cases, you can turn to modalities to jumpstart the healing process. The following is a brief primer on shortwave diathermy.

Shortwave diathermy uses high-frequency electric current to produce heat using either a condenser field or an induction field. The condenser field uses the patient’s tissues as the dielectric between two electrodes. With the induction field, the patient is in the electromagnetic field so that current flows between the patient’s conductive tissues.

Shortwave diathermy heats the tissue by causing oscillations of electromagnetic energy of high frequencies. With the changes in the new diathermy units, therapists can now provide treatment over pins and screws, prostheses and other noncircular metals. These areas were previously contraindicated.

Shortwave diathermy can reach deep tissue, a primary advantage of this modality. The diathermy head is approximately 25 times the size of an ultrasound head, thus allowing therapists to treat a large muscle group in less time.

Producing a variety of physiological changes, diathermy increases local metabolism and white blood cell concentration to the injured area. It also removes bacteria and toxins with increased cell membrane permeability, reduces muscle spasm and sedates nerve endings. In addition, it increases connective tissue elasticity, body temperature, respiratory and pulse rates and decreases blood pressure.

Diathermy is indicated for subacute and chronic inflammatory conditions of superficial joints, subacute and chronic traumatic muscle inflammation, indirect heating for peripheral vascular disease, contusions and post-surgery sites, sprains, strains, bursitis and tendinitis. It also can enhance epithelialization.

Very young and very old patients aren’t candidates for diathermy. Nor are those who are pregnant, have cardiac disease, a known cancer, an infection, an existing fever or a tendency to hemorrhage. Diathermy can’t be used over any metal that forms a circular pattern or has the same circumference as the diathermy coil. It also shouldn’t be used over the epiphyses of growing bones.

Therapists must remove electronic or magnetic equipment from the condenser field or induction field. Be careful with patients who are poor judges of heat, are obese and have sensory impairment. Avoid ischemic areas, open wounds or moist dressings, uneven spacing of the electrodes and uneven pressure of the electrodes.

Advance for Physical Therapists & PT Assistants

Making Progress: Modalities can jumpstart the healing process

By Danielle Montbriand, MPT, and Jessica F. Broussard, OTR/L


In health care, there’s no substitute for clinical skill, judgment and decision making. These essentials help you diagnose, manage and treat a host of patients. But sometimes, you need help to achieve treatment goals. In those cases, you can turn to modalities to jumpstart the healing process. The following is a brief primer on ultrasound.

Ultrasound is a form of deep heat generated through a piezo-electric crystal soundhead. Sound waves cause vibration of the cells in the soft tissue, therefore increasing temperature and inducing vasodilatation. Ultrasound can separate collagen fibers, thereby increasing tissue extensibility, or it can increase membrane permeability, increasing ion exchange. Ultrasound waves can cause thermal and nonthermal effects.

As a thermal agent, this modality can increase the tissue temperature to depths of 5 cm or more. By increasing collagen tissue extensibility, it promotes circulation, relaxes tight muscles, changes nerve conduction velocity, reduces pain and decreases inflammation.

In rehabilitation, ultrasound serves many uses. For the patient with joint contracture, ultrasound can help raise tissue temperature. The combined effect of heat and stretch will promote greater tissue extensibility, thus increasing range of motion.

Ultrasound is indicated to treat soft tissue shortening (joint contractures, scarring); subacute and chronic inflammation; painful conditions, including muscle guarding; neuroma; trigger points and warts.

Ultrasound is contraindicated in people with poor arterial circulation. It can’t be used over an area with bleeding or infection, on someone who is pregnant or doesn’t know she’s pregnant, on someone who has known cancer, over the spinal cord after a laminectomy and over the carotid sinus or cervical ganglia.

Advance for Physical Therapists & PT Assistants

Making Progress: Modalities can jumpstart the healing process

By Danielle Montbriand, MPT, and Jessica F. Broussard, OTR/L

Electrical Stimulation

In health care, there’s no substitute for clinical skill, judgment and decision making. These essentials help you diagnose, manage and treat a host of patients. But sometimes, you need help to achieve treatment goals. In those cases, you can turn to modalities to jumpstart the healing process. The following is a brief primer on electrical stimulation.

Various types of electrical stimulation exist: microcurrents, interferential, Russian current, functional electrical stimulation, high-voltage pulsed stimulation and variable muscle stimulation.

Electrical stimulation uses electrical current to provide active exercise to muscles that are incapable of voluntary contraction. E-stim promotes blood flow to the muscle to maintain nutrition, slow the atrophy process, decrease fibrotic muscle changes and decrease muscle spasm.

In addition, it can strengthen healthy muscle, increase range of motion, promote circulation and provide proprioceptive input. For someone with upper trapezius tightness, e-stim can decrease muscle trigger points and increase circulation.

E-stim offers numerous advantages. The electrodes can be used multiple times, the intensity and type of current can be individualized, and treatment can be done in the clinic or at home with a home unit. Most insurance companies will pay for home units. On the flip side, an e-stim machine for the clinic can be expensive, and uninnervated muscles will atrophy over time.

Although many different modalities exist for treatment, familiarize yourself with studies of the latest findings to best serve your patients. This article merely touches on the indications, contraindications and precautions. To learn more, familiarize yourself with the literature on these modalities. This will help you choose the most effective method for your patients.

Advance for Physical Therapists & PT Assistants

Making Progress: Modalities can jumpstart the healing process

By Danielle Montbriand, MPT, and Jessica F. Broussard, OTR/L