massage_topicIt was February 14, 2003, when I woke up after six uninterrupted hours of sleep, wondering what was wrong. Could it be that a 60-minute massage session had induced a normal sleeping pattern that had eluded me for years? I woke up with feeling no pain or grogginess and thought, “Is what normal people feel?”

With my second session since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I received the same benefits — and more. This started my journey into massage therapy and its healing effects, with the integration of holistic healing into my life.

Years later, I am a certified massage therapist who helps heal the bodies of clients. Some people consider massage a luxury in a spa setting, but many massage clients can speak differently to that opinion.

Working in high-stress office jobs for more than thirty years, I was diagnosed with many of the repetitive movement patterns shared by my clients. That makes a difference to the tax accountants who value their chair massages during their high-stress times each year.

You can ask the retired gentleman who thought his hip would never allow him to play golf again how he felt on the 18th hole in September after three months of regular neuromuscular massage. Ask him if massage made a difference in his life.

You can ask the cerebral palsy client the value of regular deep tissue and clinical massage, which was able to help break down scar tissue. His leg muscles were rehabilitated and circulation improved so he has 95 percent fewer falls each year.

Ask the mother of a 2 year old and 3 month old of the value of massage as pain is relieved in her shoulder and neck, as well as in her inflammed tendons in the elbow. Ask if that improved her quality of her life.

Perhaps the client with Parkinson’s can tell you about the value of reducing medications because of more body control due to the mental healing benefits of massage.

The 76-year-old woman who received her first massage for relaxation will tell you the value of improved neck movement that she had not had for 16 years.

The 45-year-old man who plays two hours of soccer up to three times a week will speak of the value of massage for tired muscles and how it aids in injury prevention.

The fibromyalgia client receives gentle touch massage and now has improved range of motion in her shoulder after a rotator cuff injury, and now she doesn’t fear having a frozen shoulder.

Ask the accident victim who receives muscle relaxation to support the bone structure that her chiropractor is adjusting if walking and standing upright is different when her pain is reduced.

Each of these clients can share you a different value of therapeutic massage. Or just ask me. It changed my life. I was diagnosed 15 years ago with fibromyalgia and reflex sympathetic dystrophy and couldn’t give a handshake without pain. Now I am a clinical massage therapist, personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, yoga therapist and owner of Shift Fitness and Massage, LLC.

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Tammy Shaw-Sykes has Associates Degrees in Clinical Massage and Personal Training. She is a professional member of The National Association of Personal Trainers, The American Massage Therapist Association, and The National Association of Sports Medicine and Yoga Alliance, as well as the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Tammy is a Senior Fitness Specialist and enjoys teaching at assisted living facilities throughout the area. Contact her at Shift Fitness and Massage, 1304 University Ave. NE, Suites 301-302, Minneapolis.

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