| 2015 Q1 | story by KATHERINE DIAZ | photos by STEVEN HERTZOG |
Pain. A four-letter word that may be defined as causing great discomfort in the human body. There are a variety of ways to relieve pain, depending on the level of severity. For example, there are pain relievers, such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen, or one can see a doctor for professional advice. Then there’s massage therapy, which many people have recently sought out as their go-to reliever.
“Pain is the most common reason people get a massage,” said co-member and co-founder of Southwind Health Collective Joy deMaranville.
There’s more to this increasingly popular “pain reliever” as it helps the body release accumulating pain and stress. At times, what individuals need most is to simply relax.
“Just going on vacation or doing something relaxing can really reset you, and massage is also in that category,” deMaranville said. “It can help you reset, and I think about it as getting back to square one and lowering your stress level.”
Amy Gilliland, owner of Massage Envy in Lawrence, emphasizes that massage is an effective stress reducer and adds that many people do not understand the best way to relieve their stress. Although Gilliland admits she is not a massage therapist, she knows first-hand how effective massage therapy is on the body.
Mentally and physically, the body seeks to maintain stability – in an ideal perspective. However, in reality, the daily pressures cause instability, but massage therapy can help maintain the body’s wellness by increasing circulation, relieving tension in the muscles and bringing the body back to a balanced state. Aside from these benefits, exists another benefit of getting a massage that most individuals are unfamiliar with, which according to deMaranville, is developing a sense of body awareness.
When people visit Southwind Health Collective for the first time, they fill out a health history form – without really indicating anything that’s causing a problem. However, as deMaranville and her staff begin to work on these clients, they quickly find certain issues through their body and it’s almost as if they weren’t even aware of it, but they soon become aware of it.
“What I’ve found over the years is a lot of our clients, as they come to us again and again, become more sophisticated about their own bodies, and they learn as different things are affecting them,” deMaranville said.
Southwind Wind Health Collective was one of the first massage clinics in Lawrence to open in 1987. At that time, deMaranville learned about self-responsibility on health, which really resonated with her. This meant that instead of individuals handing their health over to doctors, people could take responsibility for themselves. “True health,” as deMaranville stated, involves making changes in one’s lifestyle in order to help improve personal health.
“I had just finished my massage training and I really loved the idea that people not only relax, but also develop their awareness of health,” deMaranville said, expressing how she had personally increased her health awareness, as well as her body awareness. She soon wanted to help others understand their health and their bodies, which lead her to co-finding a massage clinic.
From then on, in the past 29 years, it has been truly exciting for deMaranville to witness the growth of massage therapy throughout the Lawrence community. There are now two massage schools, WellSpring School of Allied Health and Pinnacle Career Institute – Lawrence, and various massage therapy clinics, which according to deMaranville means that more and more people have access to massage; and more and more people see it as part of their health regimen.
“It’s just so exciting to see how educated our clients are getting about health, wellness and bodywork,” deMaranville stated, proudly recalling her experience with clients.
Some of the services clients can look forward to at Southwind include therapeutic massages, hot stone massages, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, facial rejuvenation acupuncture, as well as holistic nutrition. DeMaranville emphasizes how well rounded Southwind has become, by having a full staff of five therapists, two acupuncturists and recently welcoming a holistic nutritionist to the team.
Massage therapy can be used in different ways to treat the body. An example is when people who have muscular tenancy issues, use massage to speed up the recovery time. Runners or people who sit at a desk for too long are prone to injury, even if it’s simple low back pain, this type of therapy will help the body recover in less time than using other healing methods. Although massage has become popular, some individuals will seek out massage therapy for the first time after an injury has occurred. However, that may serve as the entry point, as deMaranville stated, and many of these customers will come back for more.
“Many clients will come in maybe once a month or every six weeks just to do preventative maintenance so they won’t be in that situation where it’s really hurting and it’s affecting their ability to do their job,” deMaranville said.
Other symptoms massage therapy can help treat, as Gilliland noted, include insomnia, autoimmune disorder, arthritis and even physical disorders.
“In America, we understand and we connect the dots between if I exercise one or two times a year, I’m going to be sore, but I’m not going to build my muscles or maintain my weight that way,” Gilliland said. “With massage therapy, it’s the same concept, but instead it’s releasing the tension out of the muscles and getting those knots out. Our goal is to help people understand that their muscles are not supposed to have knots in them, and their not supposed to be tense.”
One can never go wrong with getting a relaxing, pain-relieving, stress-relieving, muscle-relieving massage. It’s something new to try for those who have never been to a massage clinic, and for others who know the full effects – and benefits – should continue to listen to their bodies and practice healthy habits.