From Medical Technologist to Massage Therapist
I did not intentionally set out to become a non- Swedish massage therapist. My college years prepared me for a career as a medical technologist. This was my occupation for seven years after receiving my Bachelor’s of Science degree from Iowa State University (1985).
I was in the midst of a career change to computer science when I developed a constant, subtly irritating leg pain. Over the course of 18 months, I pursued relief from conventional medical treatments; including trips to orthopedics and physical therapists for x-rays, an MRI, nerve conduction studies, stretches, tens unit applications, and ultrasound therapy. My gynecologist did thorough testing to rule out endometiosis in the hip joint; after which, she suggested I try alternative therapy. Her answer to what I should try, “I don’t know”.
Barnes & Noble’s Alternative Medicine and Natural Healing section is where I began my research, purchasing a book on energy medicine. Coming from a medical technology background, it made no sense to me. What I gleamed from this book was the author had become a Swedish massage therapist to help clients.
Relief from Leg Pain
With the desire to get relief from my leg discomfort, I decided to become a massage therapist. Within three weeks, I was signed up for an 18-month program at a local, state-accredited school. Never having received a massage at the time, I was confident my biology background would allow me to breeze through this professional training.
After my first evening class, it was clear to me that had no idea what I was getting into! While I had the anatomy and physiology down pat from my classes at Iowa State, I was not prepared to convey information from a text book to a real body.
A Unique View of Massage Therapy
Once I got over the shock of having enrolled in something that was not what I expected, the science-oriented part of me really started to enjoy the training. As my classmates were improving their Swedish massage skills for relaxing clients with fancy transition moves, I was poking and prodding muscles to see if I could find the source of the client’s pain complaint. I realized I was applying the cause-and-effect of my medical technology training to my massage therapy courses. This was my first clue that my approach to massage therapy would be unique.
The business strategy included in the massage curriculum was to build a steady clientele by scheduling clients to return every two weeks. While I understood the concept, it did not resonate with me. If the client had to return every two weeks to maintain a reduced level of pain, I would have failed the client. The goal for my massage practice would be to get clients better so they would not need to come back. This was my second clue that my approach to massage therapy would be unique.
Quickly Assessing Pain Complaints
I began my massage career at a Raleigh-Durham airport spa. This was a great ‘first’ job in my new career! Since passengers have very little time before their flights, I learned to quickly assess pain complaints and determine the most effective muscles to focus on for quick pain relief. I treated passengers with shoulder complaints from carrying luggage, foot pain from non-supportive shoes, and tension headaches from the stress of hectic lifestyles.
One of the perks of being employed at the airport was spending my breaks with the shoeshine guys. I became fascinated with the 5-8 minute turn-around time and the steady stream of light-hearted conversation. In a short amount of time, clients were walking away with a spring in their step, pleased to have their shoes shining like new again.
I began envisioning a massage practice similar to the shoeshine business and I realized I needed a comprehensive technique that would quickly restore clients to a pain-free life. This was my third and final clue that my approach to massage therapy would be unique.
From RDU Airport to Duke Integrative Medicine
With an interest in applying my ideas to a regular clientele, I began working at Duke Integrative Medicine where I became part of a team of medical professionals focused on the well-being each patient as an individual rather than a labeled illness. I was able to contribute my unique massage techniques to Duke Integrative Medicine’s rich environment of whole-person care which combines traditional medicine with proven complementary therapies.
Not Your Swedish Massage
I continued my departure from the traditional, relaxing Swedish massage practice as I focused my continuing education on techniques that demonstrated quick relief of nerve and muscle pain. This specialized training included shifting from focusing on the location of the client’s pain complaint to the nerve supplying the area of complaint. I re-familiarized myself with the dermatome map which outlines the areas of the skin mainly supplied by a single nerve.
For more than four years, I worked closely with referring doctors, acupuncturists, and an integrative nutritionist at Duke Integrative Medicine, tailoring the nerve-specific muscle treatments to meet the concerns of clients with conditions such as plantar faciitis, back pain, post-op pain, migraines, chemo fatigue, frozen shoulder syndrome, and neuropathy.
Cary NC Massage Practice
I continue to offer my unique massage techniques to clients in my Cary, NC massage practice. My specialty training and years of experience have given me exactly what I was looking for: a unique approach to achieving quick and lasting results for clients looking for a pain-free life…this is What Makes Me Unique!