2009 Wellness Issue: Massage

From Thai to Mayan, we decipher some of the city

By Seattle Mag

December 31, 1969

Category: Beauty Articles


From Thai to Mayan, acupressure to Swedish, there is such a variety of touch therapies that pros prefer the phrase “bodywork” to the old-fashioned “massage.” But while many consumers are familiar with Swedish massage—the lightest touch and first technique taught in massage school—most are a bit less clear on “fascial stretch therapy.” We decipher some of the more advanced techniques you might want to try (as well as one that’s, well, particularly hot right now)—and which therapists do them particularly well (all have been recommended by their peers as among the best in town)

Fascial stretch therapy
What it is: A stretch and realignment of connective tissue. Fascia covers your joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones. Injuries and inadequate training can distort, twist and tighten the fascia. how it works: Increases circulation and flexibility; some clients report a high similar to the end of an athletic workout, making it a good choice for athletes. Where to find it: At Westlake’s 5Focus; $50–$100 per visit, for 30 minutes to one hour. Who to ask for: Laura Robinson, who has a master’s degree in physical therapy, and works with many athletes.

Mayan abdominal massage
What it is: Direct massage of the abdomen, as well as the back. how it works: Increases circulation and improves function of internal organs. Women report increased fertility. It also benefits those who are interested in improving digestion or who are having problems with constipation. Where to find it: Infusion Massage and Wellness, at Westlake; $160 for the first hour-and-45-minutes, less for additional. Who to ask for: Megan Groves, LMP, is certified in this type of massage and incorporates what she learned from other techniques.

Sports massage
What it is: It can include many styles of massage—including Swedish. how it works: Rehabs overused muscles or helps prepare an athlete for an upcoming event. After a marathon, for example, the quadricep leg muscles might be very sore. Cross-fiber friction, which is working against the grain of the muscle, will increase circulation and prevent tightening and pain in those muscles, allowing the athlete to return to movement more quickly than they might without any treatment. While geared to athletes, this type of massage can benefit anyone with sore muscles. Where to find it: Zum Health Club in Belltown; from $85 for 60 minutes to $127 for 90 minutes. Who to ask for: Colleen Casey, who has recently completed extra training in sports massage and works with competitive cyclists, runners and tennis players as well as everyday athletes.

Structural integration
(also called KMI, Rolfing, Hellerwork)
What it is: A technique that aims at sequential changes in the body, over 10­­–12 sessions, to gradually improve how the client stands, sits and walks. how it works: By targeting each body area in turn, the therapist tries to bring balance and free tissue from habitual problems (sometimes caused by repetitive stress or bad posture). Therapist Joe Smelser notes that people who seek this out should be prepared to change and committed to the process. Where to find it: Crafted Touch in North Seattle; $100–$150 per hour session; and Joe Smelser. Who to ask for: Lauren Christman at Crafted Touch, and Joe Smelser; both teach this technique to others in Seattle; Smelser provides massage to the dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Hot stone massage
What it is: A therapist glides heated basalt river stones over large muscle groups with smooth, sweeping strokes. how it works: Those looking to leave stress and tension behind will benefit from the heat and pressure of the stones that ease muscle tension while encouraging