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Massage and Yoga and Health—Oh My!

By: Kathie Stamps
By: Kathie Stamps

Remember when a massage used to be a treat? Today we consider it part of our overall health maintenance. Travel writer Kathy Brown gets a massage once a month from a massage therapist recommended by her chiropractor.

“I found somebody I liked and stuck with it,” Brown says. Brown’s therapist does a deep-tissue massage, which is not necessarily a relaxing experience in the moment—“she works out the knots and sometimes I rise off the table”—but Brown has never been sore from the treatment the next day. “It makes me feel good,” says Brown. “My health on the whole is very good, and massage is one thing that’s responsible.”

Most people are familiar with table massage, a one-on-one session with a massage therapist. But chair massage is becoming very popular in Corporate America. Chair massage practitioners bring their own special chair to you.

Teresa Shearer, a commercial client services professional at Chase Bank, takes advantage of her company’s monthly offering of chair massages. A therapist comes for an afternoon and works out the kinks for employees in 15-minute sessions. “I had a crick in my shoulder and neck and it was totally gone when she left,” says Shearer.

Companies know it’s important to keep employees instead of succumbing to a revolving door. After all, a high turnover rate is not only costly to the company in terms of retraining, but it sends a disconcerting message to vendors and customers. One of the things many companies are doing is providing some sort of wellness program, and chair massage certainly fits right in.

Kathleen Summers, a former table massage therapist, owns Professional Health Break. She and her pool of 20 subcontractors—all licensed massage therapists with liability insurance—travel to businesses in Central Kentucky and beyond to offer chair massages for employees on a monthly or quarterly basis. “We get to be the big heroes of the day,” Summers says.

Employees fill out an intake sheet to track any medical conditions. They also ask about whether the client wants a deep-tissue massage or just a light touch. “If it’s too much or not enough, let me know,” says Summers. “A good massage therapist will welcome your feedback.”

During a chair massage session, which ranges from five to 30 minutes, Summers works on the head, neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands. No oil is used so employees can run back to their cubicles without anyone being the wiser.

Yoga is another relaxation tool that has made its way into the workforce. Audrey Black offers on-site yoga programs for companies in Lexington through her business YOGA Today, an acronym for Your Office Gets Active. “People don’t have to get in their car and drive somewhere to de-stress,” Black says.

Black offers 45- to 60-minute sessions in a cafeteria or other open space of the company’s building. Employees typically feel rejuvenated after the office yoga class. “It’s easier on the joints, yet you still receive the benefits of exercise because your heart rate goes up,” says Black. In yoga, you use your own weight as resistance, so you can increase your strength and flexibility.


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