General Therapy Questions

  1. Who are you?

    Hi, I'm Karen. This is my official blurb.  Officially, I'm Karen Lewis, BS, LMT.  I was born here, raised here and live here within about 5 miles of all of those.  My family immigrated from Canada to Baltic in the 1880s, and I ended up here to live and work.  Just like them. 

    I am a Licensed Massage Therapist in Connecticut, specializing in helping to overcome chronically inefficient and painful patterns, whether due to injury, repetitive malpositioning, or functional imbalance. My goal as part of your journey to wellness is to help re-educate the muscles and fascia back to a better, healthier, more useful state, with the aid of motivated clients doing their "homework". While many of my sessions create "therapeutic discomfort", I also do relaxation/rejuvenation work.

    I am Reiki-II certified and use this gift in each and every session to help guide my work and enhance my clients' intentions toward increasing wellness. I also do Reiki sessions separately when requested.

     You got what I knead.

  2. What is Swedish Massage? Do you do that?

    Swedish Massage is what we all think of when we think "massage".  All massage therapists are trained in these techniques. It consists of five specific ways of using the hands on the body.  It's the starting point.  The Basics. Here are the technical terms affiliated with Swedish Massage.

    Effleurage is the first contact, spreading of the lotion/oil/creme and developing the therapeutic bond with the body.  It begins the relaxation process and also stimulates blood flow, lymph flow and decreases swelling of acute injuries. It tells the body, "Hey, something good will happen here."

    Petrissage is kneading of the tissues. It relieves congestion, helps to begin transporting toxins out of the muscles, creates space between the skin and the muscle layers so fresh blood can some in, and begins to lengthen bound muscle fibers and stimulate the nervous system. It tells the body, "Hey, pay attention".  This technique also creates a much deeper relaxation response, chemically, in the brain.

    Friction consists of a large variety of techniques.  It's the most penetrating of the strokes, and consists of deep circular or cross-fiber movements. This is usually somewhat "noticable" work. Friction breaks down adhesions, separates muscle fibers, affects much deeper tissues and structures and is very effective in pain relief.  This can be done with the hands, elbows, knuckles, or special tools designed to pinpoint a trouble spot.  I tell people to think, "therapeutic pain".

    Tapotement is basically tapping.  It can be lightly done with the fingertips over delicate areas of the face or joints,  or applied with heavier pressure, quickly, so that sound is actually produced by percussing with an open, cupped palm on the body.  It is especially good when someone has had a cough or asthma when applied to the chest and back.  

    Shaking is just what it sounds like.  The therapist presses into a large muscle group and shakes it around.  Or it can be applied to smaller areas with the palm or the fingers, depending on the presence of muscle, tendon, joint or pain.  Shaking and vibration are excellent tools to get a stubborn muscle knot to let go, as well as increase the muscles ability to contract if it's weakened.

    Again, these are the basic tools that all therapists learn.  A Swedish Massage is a healing experience and one should leave the office relaxed, refreshed and relieved.  Therapist who start to specialize their practices build upon these basics and develop their own style, technique and enhancement of them to effect the most change.

  3. What can massage do for me?

    Massage is an excellent addendum to wellness.  Many people begin their journey through body pain with chiropractics or acupuncture because they don't seem as intimidating as laying on a table, unclothed, with someone's hands on their skin.  However, once people discover the incredible benefits of a good massage on not only their body, but their emotions, thoughts, and being,  it sometimes moves to the top of their list of treatments sought.  Massage can not only help heal the body, but it can heal things people didn't even know needed healing.

    And besides, it feels good. Mostly.  

  4. What is the first appointment like?

    You'll fill out an intake form, telling me about your health history  and medications, talk about goals of treatment, and discuss what brought you to me.  We'll chat for a bit so I can get a sense of what kind of person you are, and so you can get to know me, too.  I'll watch your mannerisms, how you walk,  and listen to what you tell me is bothering you.  Sometimes what you are telling me and what your body is saying are incongruent.  You're telling me your back hurts but you're unconsciously rubbing your left thigh.  You mention that your neck is bothering you but you keep shifting your weight in the chair.  This is all part of the intake.  

    Then, I'll explain what the plan is, and tell you how to get on the table- undress to your level of comfort, get under the sheets and blankets, get comfortable and then I'll leave for a few minutes so you can do all these things.  Then I'll knock on the door to see if you're ready.  I'll get you even more comfortable and we'll start.

    At all times, the only thing that's uncovered is the body part I'm working on.  I'm very cautious about draping and want you and me both to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible for the first session.  I'll do all the work.  Your only job is to tell me if you're uncomfortable in any way.  Too hot, too cold, not enough pillows, whatever.  You can tell me if I'm hurting you or if you want me to press deeper.  We'll discuss the concept of "therapeutic pain" if we need to work through something.  If everything is ok, then you can talk or not talk at all for the session.  Or you can tell me about your cat.  Whatever.

    Sessions are never cookie-cutter.  I work where you need it.  This might mean an intire session of lower body work.  Or upper.  Or I might never have you flip over.  It totally depends upon what you need or what your body tells me you need.  And what "the voices" tell me to work on.  (See blog entry "be afraid. be very afraid)

  5. Are you insured? Licensed? Cred?

    I am insured for a zillion dollars.  Seriously.  

    As a Licensed Massage Therapist and Professional healthcare provider, I am licensed via the State of CT health department.  My license number is 005790.  I am also CPR and AED certified. 

    My educational background includes a Bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut with a major in Animal Science and a minor in Human Development.  I have been a Certified Veterinary Technician, and also worked with behaviorally challenged children and adolescents for many years.  I graduated top in my class in 2008 from the CT Center for Massage Therapy and passed my licensing exam on the first try in February 2009. That in itself is a feat, according to the statistics.  

    I take continuing education classes in order to expand my knowledge base and use everything I can possibly muster to help you. 

    Short answer:  We're both safe. 

  6. How many times do I have to do this?

    Some people will need a series of weekly sessions to get mobile.  Perhaps your back is "locked up" or you fell down the basement stairs last week and just can't get better.  I tell people that if you don't feel better in 4 weekly sessions, I have someone else that can help you.  And I'm not afraid to refer out.  I often choose someone with a completely different set of skills like acupuncture, naturopathics, psychotherapy, physical therapy, or orthopedics. I'll send you to a doctor if I think you need to go and have been putting it off.

    The frequency of the sessions after we get over the hump are up to you, for the most part.  I'll give you some indication as to what I think will work, and we'll work toward a maintenance schedule at some point we agree upon.  When things come up, we'll work on them as we need to.  

    Your homework and self-care are what will help you stay healthy in between sessions.  After all, I can't do ALL the work.  You need to be responsible to your own wellness.  Get engaged.  Get to know your body.  Feed it. Love it.  It's the only one you get.

  7. What is Reiki?

    Reiki, performed by a certified Reiki™ practitioner, can be a very useful tool in healing. Specifically, it is a gentle, non-invasive modality which can lend itself to profound relaxation and general well-being. Used in conjunction with massage, it can speed healing and increase the body’s response to therapy. Reiki is high vibration energy, which is channeled through an attuned practitioner’s hands in order to assist in treatment and open energetic channels in the body.

    Sounds like a bunch of hooey, you say?  Open up to the possibility that it works.  Because it does.   If you're into science, think Quantum Physics.  I do.  I use it every time I practice because it helps guide the healing energy.  I am a Reiki II practitioner and can actually work in certain hospitals that have embraced alternates to Western medicine healing.

    A Reiki practitioner might also utilize aromatherapy during a session.  I sometimes use crystals or stones placed in your hand, on the table or on your body.  A Reiki session is done fully clothed in a relaxing setting and may take anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes or longer, depending on the issues encountered and the goals determined by the client and Therapist. The Therapist places their hands on the client’s body in certain positions that encourage opening and flow of chi, the energy of life.  There is no massaging or moving or stretching during a treatment.  It can be a very peaceful, relaxing, healing experience.

    Reiki can also be utilized during massage to enhance the flow of energy throughout the body’s systems to aid in relaxation, speed healing, and to promote a more positive attitude about injury. A client might be acutely aware of Reiki energy during a treatment session, like feeling heat or “buzzing” sensations, or “seeing” colors behind closed eyes, feeling sudden relief, or even recalling memories. Or, the client might never feel a thing. However subtle, the effects can be profound, and are sometimes realized even after a few days.

    I like to call it "magic" when someone notices something unusual happening in a very positive way. It really is. 

  8. Will it hurt?

    Short answer- Maybe.  Long answer- depends upon what we're dealing with.  I can tell you that you might be sore during the work and for maybe 36 hours afterward, depending upon the chronic nature of the issue.  Usually, if you have an acute injury, you'll feel a ton better right away. If we have both done our jobs, and you are a little sore the next day, you'll find yourself more mobile, less painful and happier after a few days.  The process takes time. You didn't get like that in an hour. 

    Often, once we get one thing working properly, something else speaks up because now things are working differently. Working in a proper, more efficient way can make muscles that haven't had to do their job a little sore until they get strong again.  Do not panic. 

    Many times, people find their shoes don't feel right after a while.  Because they have been patterned for body mechanics that are unbalanced, your winter (or summer) shoes feel like they are someone else's the first time you put them on after several months.  Look at the bottom of your shoes. They tell the story of your body.  If we've balanced your body, then the wear pattern on your shoes won't serve you any more, and will actually cause you pain.  You have permission to go shopping ;-)

    My job is to help you retrain your muscles, which have either learned inefficient patterns due to postural imbalances, have become weakened by virtue of "favoring" an old surgery,  or by neglecting your healing process after an injury.  Sometimes the body doesn't want to change right away and will guard against the work.  We'll get through it once you see the benefits of sticking it out.  It gets better.  And ice is your best friend. 

  9. Will you tell me what you find?

    If you want me to tell you more about the muscle or fiber I'm working on, just ask.  The more you know, the better.  Educationally,  I will tell you what I can with regard to what you ask me, to the best of my ability.  If I don't know the answer, I'll find it.  I want you to educate yourself about your body and become "body aware".  Once you have that, you'll be amazed at how quickly you are able to avoid injury, heal faster, feel better, move correctly and tell other people how great they can feel if they just pay attention.

    I have several anatomy books at the ready to show you what I mean when I talk about you.  Having a visual reference makes all the difference.

  10. I've had a bad (shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, etc) forever. Can you possibly help?

    First off, never use the term "bad" in relation to your body.  What you say becomes reality.  I like to remind people to say, "My affected piece", or "My healing piece".  We must send positive energy to the things that are calling out for help.

    And "forever" is overused.  You were not likely to have been born with tendinitis in your elbow.  Or back pain. Or a tear in a muscle.  We will trace the issue back to the origin, which is very likely something you forgot even happened.  It might have started that one time you jumped your bike off the side of that sand pile and got thrown off halfway down.  Chances are, once we find ground zero, you're going to have a sudden memory of that trip to the ER because your mom was freaking out. 

    A lot of people tell me they "have no idea" what they did to get what they have.  That's not true.  It sometimes just takes a few questions and the truth comes out; you lifted the laundry basket wrong last Tuesday.  You fell asleep with the extra pillow under your head.  The dog you walk pulled on you too hard last spring. You get it.

    I'll probably add in things in my "toolbox" to the massage sessions over time to help get things right again.  Kinesiotape, Vacuum cup therapy, linaments, muscle rubs, cold packs, etc... we'll find it and make adjustments.  And you will be better. 

  11. What the heck is "Muscle Re-education" anyway?

    You used to function perfectly well until you ignored something that bothered you.  Your body will tell you, in no uncertain terms, when it is in distress. If you choose to ignore it, it will adjust itself in order to keep you functional.  This is almost never the way it was meant to function.   Some people call it "compensation".  Ok, I'll buy that.  Really, the body is helping you out.  Keeping you standing upright.  Trying with every fiber to balance you.  With those efforts, something's going to suffer.  Certain muscles get overused and others begin to atrophy.  And the thing is, you won't even notice until I press or pull on something. I hear it all the time: "I had no idea that even hurt".  

    We are not meant to be in pain all the time.  So, I try to reeducate the system.  To get it back to pre-insult. It's amazing to me how the body responds to addressing a previously unknown issue by beginning to function efficiently once again.  The knee bone is indeed connected to the neck bone.

    I do continuing education to expand my knowledge base and increase my utility to you. It also stimulates my brain.  This way, I can see your muscles, tendons, fascia with my hands and try to coax them into a better way of functioning.  

  12. Will there be homework?

    "Yes" is the short answer.  I'll try to give you the simplest, everyday, non-invasive homework. Because deep down, I know how hard it is to stop and actually take time to do something for our bodies.  So, it might be as simple as stopping on the stairs and stretching the ankle.  Or it could be taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  It might be adjusting the mirror in your car and never touching it again.  (The mirror didn't go out of alignment....you did)  

    You will do the easiest things first. Then you will ask for more. 

  13. What if you can't help me?

    It's rare that I can't help in some way. However, there are some things I cannot address.  If you have a tear somewhere, I can't help that.  I can help the issues that it caused surrounding it, but I'll send you to a doctor for an evaluation if I think you need it.  

    I have no illusions that I can "fix" you.  Only you can do that.  But I can help.  And if I can't, I will help you find someone who can.

  14. Will you communicate with my physician?

    If you need me to provide any information to any other healthcare practitioner on your behalf, I am happy to do so.  You'd need to sign a form in order for me to do that because I respect your privacy. So, yes.

  15. What are your cancellation/ no-show policies?

    I'm self-employed.  I run a small practice.  And I try to stay as busy as my body will allow me to be.  That being said, if you have an appointment with me, it's crucial to give me at least 24 hours notice if you know you're not going to be able to keep your appointment.  I want to be able to offer it to someone else who might be on a waiting list.  Or I want to be able to move someone who wanted to come in at your allotted time.  I am also ok with you sending someone else in your place.  Then, let's get you rescheduled.  

    If you completely miss your appointment, there will be a charge at your next visit.  Of course, emergencies will be taken into consideration, as will weather related travel issues.  The time I have booked for you is yours.  If you "forget" your massage, I lose the time.  I will always offer you a reminder card.  If you decide not to take it, and trust your phone to keep your appointments for you, then it's on you when the reminder doesn't go off. 

    If you're running late because of work, or bringing your dog to the vet, or whatever, please let me know and we'll decide if there is enough time for you to get the balance of your session in.  Again, if you've booked an hour of my time, and you show up 15 minutes late, that will cut into your hour. We'll still end on time.  I'm happy to modify a session for you if you're late, so don't assume you need to cancel it.

    If you have pre-paid for your visit and you miss it, I will consider it paid.  There won't be any refunds for missed appointments.  I'm happy to reschedule you if you miss.  I promise, I won't hold it against you.  It happens.  But you can certainly understand that I cannot absorb that loss as a  self-employed, small business practitioner.   

  16. What about paying?

    As of June 1, 2019, I will be accepting cash, checks or debit/credit card as payment.

    The prices are as follows:

    30 minute one area: $45.00

    60 minute session: $70.00

    90 minute session:  $110

    I will be offering discounted package deals of 2, 3, or 4 sessions, prepaid in order to save you money and encourage follow up appointments! 

  17. Do you know anything about CBD?

    I do, in fact.  I'll be posting more information as it comes in.   I use it and advocate for its use.  It's NOT A DRUG and you will NOT GET HIGH from CBD. 

    Click on the button on the main page to buy your CBD oil from Select CBD.  Type in "save20" at check out and you'll get 20% off!  

    Sometimes I come up with bigger discounts, and I'll share them as I find them. 

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