By Marivir R. Montebon
When living the hurried life in New York, having a massage therapist is definitely a necessity, but having a really good one is a rare find. OSM! features Rachel Richards, an incredibly rare find in the business of massage therapy in the city that never sleeps. Before deciding to be a massage therapist, she was a stage actress.
The lovely and petite woman with gentle, powerful touch sang and danced in some of her favorite roles as Eliza in My Fair Lady, Evita in Evita, Bella in Rags, Connie in Good News, and Sandy in Grease. (See her acting website: http://rachelmoses.com/)
But married life has compelled her to do an extreme shift in career, and because the care giving career, by nature, is more economically stable. About four years ago, the power of her touch has done pretty much amazing help to her clients, as much as she did amaze her audience in the theatre.
Rachel is a native of Long Island and finished massage therapy at the Swedish Institute, which covered studies on anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, neurology, assessment, Swedish massage, Shiatsu, and clinical applications.
1. How long have you been into the massage service industry? Why did you choose this particular career?
I began my massage therapy education at the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences in April 2007. I’ve now been working as a licensed practitioner for almost four years.
After working as a stage actress, touring the country for the better part of my 20s, I finally decided it was time to find more steady work that would allow me to stay home with my husband Jesse. It took a tremendous amount of brainstorming, reading, and soul-searching. It was clear that my interests lay in health sciences. I had a powerful urge to help people. I’m also a very kinesthetic person – understanding the power of touch and how it could be used to provide people with less pain, better health, and an improved quality of life was something I wanted to explore. As opposed to many other health professions, where office visits may be scary, annoying, or painful, massage could offer health benefits and a relaxing experience. I came across the Swedish Institute online, applied right away (while in Florida doing a show), and began school shortly after my return to New York.
2. There are various massage styles or techniques, how did you master all these techniques? Does it come with practice or the knowledge from school mattered more?
Techniques are learned and then practiced and honed over time. As far as styles, I think each practitioner has their own. Techniques are the easy part. Knowing how to do a thorough assessment and deciding which techniques would provide the best possible outcome for the patient is where more of the real work lies. And even once I’ve devised a treatment plan, that is subject to constant modification depending on the needs and comfort levels of the patient.
As far as which mattered more, school or practice, I’d say you can’t have one without the other. School was my foundation. It gave me the tools I needed to practice safely and effectively. As with most any career, expertise comes with experience. Not only do I learn from my work, I also make it a point to continue to study. I’ve taken many continuing education classes since I graduated. I followed my interests and received advanced certifications in medical, sports, and prenatal massage. I think no matter what you do, you can always learn more. Especially in the health field where new developments and discoveries are being made every day.
3. I have tried a few sessions with you and I found it very helpful, how do you know what fits best for your client?
Every person is different. Even if two patients present with the same pain symptoms, it is not unusual to use two different approaches to treatment. What may be wonderfully beneficial for one person may not be appropriate for another. That’s why it’s so important to take a thorough patient history and assessment before beginning treatment. Once a patient is on the table, I make sure she knows that the lines of communication are open. I explain why I’m doing a particular technique and check in to see if the pressure is appropriate. I encourage the patient to let me know if he feels any discomfort or if there’s anything he needs. In other words, I encourage my patients to take an active role in their sessions and in their health care. It’s really a partnership.
4. What do New Yorkers complain most of when they ask for massage service from you?
I see people with all kinds of pain and injuries, both new and old. I suppose the most frequent complaint I hear is neck pain often due to the hours spent on computers nowadays, and the lack of knowledge about proper ergonomics. If you spend a lot of time on a computer, check out my article on ergonomic essentials, http://rachel-richards.com/news-feb2012.php
5. How is business going these days? Is it busy or slow?
I am very fortunate to have a busy practice!
6. Do you have a problem with competition? How do you deal with it? What is your edge over the rest?
No, I’ve never found competition a problem. There are plenty of New Yorkers in need of massage therapy, more than enough to fill the treatment rooms of all therapists. If you know how to market your practice and are good at what you do, getting clients won’t be a problem.
I think one of the things that keeps my patients coming back is the individual and undivided attention they get when they’re here. I make it a point to really listen to their concerns and treat them as unique individuals.
7. Being a massage therapist is quite a tiresome physical and emotional (I believe, your hands must express a sense of nurturing), so how do you regain your energy at the end of the day?
Proper body mechanics and self-care techniques were a huge part of my education. Knowing how to take care of myself and making sure I don’t overbook my schedule is key to keeping myself healthy. I make nutrition and sleep a priority. I practice Yoga and I get massaged regularly. In other words, I practice what I preach!
Links to share:
Like Rachel’s page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Richards-Massage/160760773967012
Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter offering health tips and massage specials: http://rachel-richards.com/contact-rachel-richards.php