Kathryn Grace, Director of A Touch Of Geace formerly Healthstyles Healing Center k, offers alternative healthcare such as certified massage therapy.
While traditional medicine and public health practices are certainly important to one's health, alternative health practices are gaining more recognition daily. Health statistics show more and more people are discovering the benefits of reducing stress and tension in non-medical ways, and reporting improved overall well-being.
Massage Therapy connects
the mind, body and spirit
By Cathy Nelson
(The Daily Tribune)
Daily Tribune Staff
Photo by Dick Hunt
A recent survey showed that 42 percent of Americans have used some type of complementary care such as massage, herbal or vitamin therapy.
All this has not been lost on members of the medical field. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has just signed an agreement with Landmark Healthcare, Inc., a California-based company to launch a new network called Naturally Blue. It will provide discounts to its members for massage therapy, acupuncture and healthy living products through a statewide certified practitioner network.
The discounts could lead to better benefits for recipients and expanded care by providers.
Royal Oak's Kathryn Grace, director of Healthstyles Healing Center, is not surprised by the trend. She was a licensed emergency medical technician and medical assistant before becoming certified in massage therapy, aromatherapy, yoga instruction and energy healing.
"I wanted to understand the naturopathic style of medicine," Grace explained about her cross-over. "Without both, there's a piece missing. It's really important to understand the medical point of view and the naturopathic point of view to bring as much as I can to a patient."
Grace said the services offered by Healthstyles, such as massage therapy and aromatherapy are used so "People can get in touch with their bodies, emotional problems and mental situation. What we look at is the whole person—the physical body, the emotional state, but also the spiritual nature. They are all tied together."
One of the most popular services Healthstyles offers is, naturally, massage. Most people come to the center, but therapists also do on-site visits at homes, hotels and corporations, where they often give special chair massages for staff appreciation days.
From the variety of massages—deep muscle, sports, aromatherapy and reflexology—Grace said Swedish massage is still the most popular.
"It uses medium to light pressure and is geared for stress, circulation and general relaxation."
At Healthstyles, massages are done in a private room, with relaxing music playing in the background and the scent of burning incense filling the air.
Once on the massage table, the only thing left for the client to do is lay back, relax and let the therapist do the work. According to Grace the best way to get the most out of a massage is to "just let go."
The massage therapist begins working on the upper back and moves down to the lower. The therapist slowly releases tension with a combination of light touches and deep, penetrating motion enhanced by the use of special oils and lotions.
From the back, the therapist moves to the arms, hands and back of the legs, giving extra attention to any spots that may trouble the client. With the client on his or her back, the therapist works on neck muscles and shoulder muscles, which are common problem areas. Manipulation techniques are also used to gently lengthen the spinal column.
The abdomen, legs and feet are then concentrated on, again using both medium pressure and soothing strokes to melt away tension and stress. When it's over, the client should feel revitalized, relaxed and renewed.
Of course, a massage is only as good as the person doing it. There are important things to look for when choosing a massage therapist. In Michigan, each city regulates what requirements a massage therapist must meet in order to advertise themselves as certified. For example, in Royal Oak, someone must be nationally certified, or under the apprenticeship of someone who is called a certified massage therapist. However, there is no regulation saying someone must be certified in order to practice massage.
Grace who has 22 years' experience and studied at many schools including the Swedish Institute of Massage in New York City, said there are other important things to look for in addition to certification.
"The first thing I recommend is that there is a rapport between you and the therapist, that they're available to you physically, mentally and emotionally. Besides the training and certification, the connection is very important.
Not everybody has a connection with everybody. Without it, you won't be able to receive their healing and they won't be able to serve your needs."
The other thing Grace recommends is that people find a therapist who knows anatomy and physical technique.
"If you've got these two things, you're going to have a good experience and want to come back for more."
And according to Grace, you'll be feeling good outside and in. "A massage circulates the blood, drains the lymphatic system, stimulates the internal organs and releases hormones and chemicals in the body. A one-hour massage is equivalent to four hours' sleep."
The cost of all these benefits? At Healthstyles a half-hour massage is $43, while a full hour is $68. "Forget going out to dinner," said Grace. "Once a month, have a massage." The results she added help you look younger, feel younger and maybe even live longer.
located at 26711 Woodward Avenue, Suite 203, in Huntington Woods. Call 1-248.545-3222 for an appointment.