Massage for Mind, Body, Spirit

More and more people head to the massage table to find relief from more than just stress
SALISBURY — Kelly Cannon tried everything to try to get some relief from her sinus problems.

The pressure and headaches made her feel as if she didn’t have a face, she said.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications did little to relieve the pain. But after one hour at Designer’s Edge with massage therapist Jami Geise the problem faded significantly.

“I’m not quite sure what she does, but she triggers something and it alleviates the pain and takes all of the pressure out of my face,” Cannon said.

The preconceived notion that massage is all about relaxation is fading as more people head to the massage table to find relief from more than just stress.

“Within the last six months, I have had more patients say their doctors recommend them to massage than ever before,” she said.

Geise was stunned about how little people on the Eastern Shore know about the benefits of a massage.

“I moved here from Boston and there they get massages on regular basis,” she said. “It is part of what they do to maintain a healthy body. It’s more than relaxation. It’s for the mind, body and spirit.”

Massage is also a proven method of treatment for injuries, said Debbie Henry, medical massage practitioner.

“With injuries it’s about finding the pain, and hopefully reducing the pain,” she said. “And, making the client more comfortable in the long run.”

Massage, like most alternative methods, is not scientifically proven, Geise said, but the evidence is mounting to support the benefits.

Massage increases metabolism and healing, improves and refreshes muscles, improves blood circulation, relieves fatigue, promotes relaxation and creates overall sense of well being, she said.

There are many different reasons people seek the help of a massage therapist. Stress, injury, sinus problems and chronic pain all bring people to the table. Best not forget about relaxation and granting someone a treat.

“Everyone can benefit from a massage,” Geise said.

Different types

Henry is all too familiar with how therapeutic massage can work.

Henry suffered a pinched nerve from a work-related accident. The migraines wouldn’t go away until she started going to a massage therapist.

How the therapist eased her suffering prompted her to pursue a career in massage therapy.

Henry differs in her massage techniques than other therapists.

Rather than giving a full body, head-to-toe, back-to-front massage, Henry specializes in finding the problem and working with the muscles that are causing the problem, she said.

Patients feel the difference when it’s for medical reasons. It’s not a sit back and relax kind of therapy.

It hurts, she said, because it’s working out what causes the pain. Henry, as a medical masseuse, has to know the anatomy and physiology of the body to bring it back to proper function.

“You have to be trained to do what I do,” Henry said. “You don’t just show up and call yourself a medical masseuse.”

The different massages have their purpose. As medical massage is used to alleviate injuries, a Swedish massage is intended to speed blood flow to the heart.

Deep tissue helps to break down restrictions in muscles and surrounding tissues, while a hot stone massage, which uses hot basalt stones that are warmed river rocks, are good to use on tight fatigued muscles.

There are sports massage for before and after the event, each focusing on what the body needs.

Geise said that lots of people want to know about myofacial release.

Muscles are surrounded by facia, which connects the whole body.

“It’s ike a circus tent,” she said. “If one part gets snagged, it will affect rest of body.”

Myofacial release is superficial, with concentration on the top layer of facia that surrounds the muscle.

“It’s a completely different focus,” she said. “It’s like a stretch that breaks up the adhesion that are pulling on the muscle.”

How it works

At Educated Hands, Henry talks to the client first to get their take on the problem.

“They give me some clues on where to start,” she said.

If a doctor is treating the patient, she consults with them on the patient’s condition.

“They tell me what I am supposed to be focusing on and I use my hands to figure out the rest,” she said.

Henry palpitates the skin to find tissues that are hardened. “If you can feel hard tissue, you know something is going on,” she said.

She manipulates the soft tissue to work out the lumpiness in hopes to return the muscle back to health.

When muscles tighten, they shorten. Henry works to elongate and stretch it back out again so it’s healthy.

Henry works on the muscle until there is some relief. For some patients, it could be an hour, for others it could run longer.

“We start heavy,” she said. “The more work we do, the better muscles are going to be and body is going to accept what I’m doing.”

Geise, who graduated from the Muscular Therapy Institute in Boston, customizes the massage to fit what the customer needs.

“If they want deep pressure, I’ll give them,” she said. “But, I don’t unless specified. Some will jam an elbow in someone’s back for no reason.”

Geise sees what a client needs and formulates a plan of action.

What she can work on can be determined by time restrictions.

When giving a 30-minute massage, she doesn’t normally get to the full body. If she does, it averages about two minutes on each body part.

“It’s hard to maximize the effect of a half hour,” she said. “I usually focus on specific areas for limited time.”

When going a full hour, Geise said the client gets the whole body experience instead of bothersome areas.

Frequency usually depends on the client. They typically come once a month.

Before Geise begins the massage, she introduces her hands to the client. She begins with palpitations through sheet.

“It builds a rapport,” she said. “There’s a trust factor.”


Candles, relaxation music, soft lighting and scent works to relax the patient.

If the patient is not relaxed, it’s harder to do the therapy, Henry said.

New patients and clients are typically nervous about the massage.

“If you’re not familiar with massage, it takes time for the body to acclimate,” Henry said. “You don’t know what to expect. You’re jumpy and you’re nervous, uptight and not so relaxed.”

Henry said it takes time to trust the work she does and it takes the body time to accept the work.

Geise said the average person is tense about exposure.

Massage therapists never expose a part of the body that they’re not working on, she said. The broadest surface exposed will be the back while she’s working on it.

As far as personal hygiene, Geise said it doesn’t bother her.

“I always have clients say that they didn’t shave their legs today,” she said. “It just doesn’t faze me.”


For years massage therapist, like other alternative therapies, were questioned by the public. But Geise said massage is becoming more accepted as a form of therapy.

And, therapists are sticking up for their profession.

“It’s unfortunate about the stereotypes and how a few bad apples have to ruin things,” she said. “But, I assure you that if a therapist is licensed in state of Maryland then they are legitimate.”

Massage therapists are licensed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and under the guidance of the Maryland State Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Massage therapist renew their licenses every two years and like other medical professions are required to perform 24 continuing education credit hours.

“If practitioners are getting paid by insurance companies for medical benefit, then they have some medical history or back ground,” Henry said.


2 Responses to “Massage for Mind, Body, Spirit”

  1. 1 tim January 22, 2007 at 6:34 am

    There are some videos of massage modalities here

  2. 2 tim January 22, 2007 at 6:35 am

    There are some videos of massage modalities here :

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