Collier and Lee Counties Edition
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Medical Massage in Southwest Florida

Specialized Skills for Special Populations

In Southwest Florida, specialty certificate programs representing advanced education and training within a modality qualified as therapeutic massage and bodywork are benefitting massage therapists and their clients. Often considered as requirements for specific populations—pregnant women, seniors, athletes, infants, cancer patients and survivors—some outcome-based specialty modalities are referred to as “medical massage”.

Specialty techniques are taught by continuing education providers approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, a nonprofit organization that provides an accredited, voluntary certification beyond entry-level state licensure. As a result, specialty therapies are delivered by trained massage therapists according to a national standard of excellence for working in collaboration with doctors, chiropractors, wellness centers, retirement care communities and other medical settings.

To maintain their status, therapists must complete 24 hours of continuing education and 100 hours of work experience, and pass a criminal background check every two years. Approved providers, such as Geri Ruane, one of four founding directors of Oncology Massage Alliance (OMA), in Austin, Texas, offer beginning and advanced weekend workshops.

Oncology Massage

Ruane clarifies the essential aspects of an oncology massage therapist’s (OMT) skill set. “A properly trained therapist has an informed understanding of the disease itself and the many ways it can affect the human body; the side effects of cancer treatments, such as medications, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation; and the ability to modify massage techniques in order to adapt accordingly. Hospitals in 35 states and Washington, D.C., now offer massage therapy to individuals during cancer treatment.”

Trained in oncology massage at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, Christina Mitchell, owner of Best Body Massage in Naples, benefits from local collaborations. “Patient referrals come from NCH Healthcare System, plastic surgeons, dentists, chiropractors and internal medicine physicians,” says Mitchell, who is also certified in orthopedic massage, as well as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD).

Orthopedic Massage

“I know how to assess and treat soft tissue musculoskeletal orthopedic conditions that include everything from a frozen shoulder or whiplash injuries to carpal tunnel, tennis/golfers elbow, plantar fasciitis rotator cuff tears, back spasms and pain,” says Mitchell.

Orthopedic massage can incorporate myofascial release, neuromuscular therapy, thermal modalities, trigger point release and muscle energy technique (MET) that uses the gentle muscle contractions of the patient to relax and lengthen muscles and normalize joint motion.

“No one modality is ever the answer, which is why I am trained in several techniques. Sometimes I need to use Somato-Emotional Release Therapy (SER) because there is a body-mind connection that involves releasing an emotional aspect of the physical problem,” explains Mitchell.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Assuage Spa, in Fort Myers and Naples, offers post-mastectomy massage that helps women to alleviate postoperative pain and edema by assisting in the flow of lymph, blood and oxygen to promote the removal of toxins. “It also helps reduce scar adhesions and scar visibility,” says spa co-owner Tehjan Prendiville.

Robyn Berry, LMT, owner of the RB Institute, in Fort Myers is certified in MLD, as well as CranioSacral Release, SER and visceral manipulation. “My training in the MLD method developed by Bruno Chikly, MDXPW is the technique I use to detect and palpate the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymph flow anywhere in the body. Developed in Germany, Medical Massage in Southwest Florida Specialized Skills for Special Populations by Linda Sechrist TherapeuTic Massage • OncOlOgy care certified • Medical Massage PractitiOner • lyMPh drainage • MyOfascial release • sPOrts Massage • active isOlated stretching • craniOsacral theraPy MA49769 MM22673 822 Anchor Rode Drive, Naples, FL 34103 christina M. Mitchell, LMT, pFT, MLD/cDp Certified Lymphedema Therapist Compression Bandaging By AppoiNtmeNt (239) 293-0960 • Christina Mitchell Tehjan Prendiville natural awakenings April 2017 39 this technique is for the treatment of lymphedema, an accumulation of fluid that can occur after lymph nodes are removed during surgery, most often for a mastectomy,” says Berry, who notes that scientific studies have proven that the immune system is supported and even boosted as a result of receiving regular MLD treatments.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, up to 25 percent of breast cancer patients with surgery that includes removal of lymph nodes in the area of the armpit eventually develop lymphedema. It can also occur if lymph nodes are removed in other types of surgery—melanoma, colon, prostate or bladder cancer.

Melinda Cribbs, LMT, at Shangri-La Springs, in Bonita Springs, also offers MLD, which incorporates gentle rubs, strokes, taps or pushes to the skin in directions so that accumulated lymph fluid drains through proper channels. For effectiveness, LMD is generally performed once a day four or five times a week for two to four weeks.

“The lymphatic system does not have a pump. Unlike our circulatory system, it relies greatly on movement, either by massage or exercise. As we age, lymph, a colorless fluid containing white blood cells that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream, moves slower through our system,” says Cribbs.

Shangri-La Springs also offers CranioSacral, geriatric, deep tissue, prenatal and postnatal massage.

Prenatal Massage

Prenatal massage is offered at Naples and Fort Myers locations such as Assuage Spa, Purely You Spa and by Alvina Quatrano, LMT. Considered complementary care that women can experience throughout their pregnancy, it is a healthy way to reduce stress, promote overall wellness and relieve the normal discomforts of pregnancy—backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headache and edema.

Prenatal massage also reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension and relieves depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes. Therapists take into consideration a woman’s physiology during pregnancy and use adaptive positioning for the purpose of comfort during massage.

Other Options

Although not named under the category of medical massage, sports massage, deep tissue, CranioSacral and myofascial massage, as well as neuromuscular active release techniques, like that offered at Naples Massage & Neuromuscular by owner Tabatha Petersen, as well as Meredith Musick, a LMT and yoga teacher in Naples, are among the most effective specialty therapies that massage professionals choose to train in so they can customize therapies that offer the greatest relief for clients.

Teo Nikolov, owner of CURA Holistic Health and Massage Center, in Naples, is not only trained in sports massage, deep tissue massage and myofascial release, but also the modalities of reiki and qigong. He has developed his own holistic massage therapy that combines them to help clients achieve their therapeutic goals in optimal time. “Many of my local clients that have been with me more than a decade have regular appointments to keep their chronic pain issues at bay and prevent new injuries,” says Nikolov.

At Awakening Through Synergy, in Naples, Jennifer Colucci, LMT, has combined Thai massage, yoga, Pilates and physical therapy to cater more to individuals and provide relief by stretching and releasing facia. “Many of clients with conditions ranging from neuropathy, impingement syndrome and herniated disc to chronic pain have had good results with my synergistic Thai yoga therapy,” she says.

Client referrals, testimonials and letters of recommendation are a massage therapist’s best friends. At Organic Skincare & Bodyworx in Naples, Ermin Luis’ clients appreciate the relief that his customized massages bring. He blends several styles he is trained in—deep tissue, trigger point, myofascial, and craniosacral therapy. He is also certified in shiatsu, Swedish, prenatal and sports massage. A recent client emailed to express gratitude. “I have used physical therapy, acupuncture, and spinal epidurals to relieve pain in my back caused by bulging discs and arthritis. It wasn’t until I began having massages with you that I found relief for my daily discomfort.” Such testimonials are proof that specialty training certifications are an added value to clients as well as any massage therapist’s skillset.

Local Resources

Assuage Spa, 9407 Cypress Lake Dr., Ste. C, Fort Myers. 239-333-1450. 1201 Piper Blvd., Unit 1, Naples.

Awakening Through Synergy, 1084 Business Ln., Naples. 239-529-7582.

Be Well Natural Health Clinic, 1032 Goodlette Rd. N., Naples. 239-307- 5616.

CURA Holistic Health and Massage Center, 3411 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 200, Naples. 239-450-4325.

Florida Academy continuing education classes, 4387 Colonial Blvd., Ft. Myers. 239-489-2282.

Christina Mitchell, Naples, 239-293- 0960.

Meredith Musick, Naples. 239-269- 8846.

Naples Massage & Neuromuscular, 5926 Premier Way, Ste. 134, Naples. 239-325-9410.

Organic Skincare & Bodyworx, 13240 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 207, Naples. 239- 514-4494.

Purely You Spa, 3066 Tamiami Tr., N., Ste. 302, Naples. 239-331-8266.

Alvina Quatrano, Naples. 732-266- 5276.

RB Institute, Inc., 13601 McGregor Blvd., Ste. 13, Ft. Myers. 239-939- 4646.

Shangri-La Springs, 27750 Old 41 Rd., Bonita Springs. 239-949-0749.

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