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Massage therapy more than a stress reliever

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A well-delivered neck and shoulder massage is great for limbering up those tired muscles after a hard day’s work—but it shouldn’t stop there, said Tracy Petsnick, a registered massage therapist.

In fact, soft tissue therapy can have positive affects on the whole of the body, including its circulatory and nervous systems.

“It’s not just for sprains and strains,” noted Petsnick, whose therapy services are now available full-time through the Rainy Lake Chiropractic Clinic on Mowat Avenue.

“And you don’t have to have a doctor’s note to come and see me,” she said, though adding she does get referrals.

Besides aiding in stress management, massage therapy is widely used to help people get relief from many specific problems, including migraines, arthritis, neuralgia, and digestive/lower bowel problems.

“[Massage] can also help with problems like tendinitis and whiplash as well as fibromyalgia. A lot of people have come to me suffering from that,” she said, adding massage therapy geared to fibromyalgia sufferers can help prolong the syndrome’s remission time.

Petsnick graduated from the College of Massage and Hydrotherapy in Sutton, just north of Toronto, a little more than a year ago.

A two-year/2,200-hour course of study, the program included intensive anatomical, physiological and clinical studies, including extensive practical instruction.

Currently the area’s only registered massage therapist, Petsnick said she knew the demand for her type of profession would only increase with time given the lifestyles of today.

“I wanted [a career] that I would get a job in," she reasoned. ”It’s an alternative type of health care, and it helps give people the opportunity to have an active role in getting better and in doing something good for themselves.

“And [massage therapy] is needed here.”

On a humorous note, Petsnick said the old adage that skilled masseurs practice their profession in a back room somewhere is perhaps the only misconception left on the table to deal with when it comes to public awareness.

“The idea that there’s a secret room in a parlour somewhere . . . that’s the biggest thing," she chuckled. "We’ve come so far since that.”

And while the benefits of massage for adults continue to broaden, Petsnick stressed “hands-on” therapy can have a healthy effect on babies, too.

Also a certified infant massage instructor, Petsnick encouraged new parents to learn the technique.

“The main thing it does is help create a bond that you can’t get anywhere else," she smiled. "It’s great for colicky babies.”

Petsnick recalled an incident when she saw the reaction of a toddler, who had been getting a daily massage since he was two-and-a-half weeks old, to his mother’s gestures.

“She would rub her hands together and he would just laugh because he knew he was going to get a massage,” she recounted.

Petsnick also said she is hoping to bring her instructional techniques on infant massage to teenage mothers, who she felt needed special attention when it comes to getting to know their babies.

“They need [this]. Sometimes they aren’t sure what to do with a little baby," she noted. "[Infant massage] can help them get in touch.”

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