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Massage at the PACC

Massage therapy services are being expanded at the Perham Area Community Center to meet a demand that has been steadily growing over the past few years.

"We saw the need for more massage here--more people were scheduling," said Leah Westphal, who has been working at the PACC as a massage therapist since 2006.

Joining Westphal at the PACC is Julie Mursu, who has been working as a massage therapist for the past four years. Mursu started at the PACC on March 4, and takes appointments on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Westphal is available for appointments Monday through Thursday in the afternoons and all day on Friday. In order to help accommodate the increased demand for massage therapy, the PACC has now allocated two rooms to be used for massage. The rooms have been recently painted and redecorated to support a relaxing massage experience.

"I enjoy helping people feel better," says Mursu of her occupation. She works with clients to help improve both their physical and mental condition.

Westphal shares a similar goal. "The whole idea that we want to give to people is that massage therapy is therapeutic," she explains.

Both Westphal and Mursu are professional massage therapists, with Westphal receiving her training at Minnesota State Technical College in Wadena and Mursu at Sister Rosalind School of Massage Therapy in Fargo, ND.

According the Westphal, the main services they offer clients are Swedish, deep tissue, and hot stone massage. In addition to these more common offerings, Westphal and Mursu are teaming up to offer a new service: couples massage.

The couples massage will offer people the opportunity to get a massage along with their favorite someone--spouse, friend, son, or daughter. Each of the individuals will be given a massage by one of the PACC's massage therapists.

"It's a really good gift for mothers and daughters, friends, or your spouse," said Westphal.

Other massage offerings include raindrop therapy and aromatherapy, which both include the use of essential oils with the massage. Hot stone massage also incorporates another element into the massage experience--with heated basalt stones. This ancient form of massage uses the stones to warm and soften muscles in order to relax them more effectively.

Massage can be used to help relax the mind and the body, relieve stress and tension, increase blood circulation, enhance the immune system, renew energy, and reduce pain. Westphal and Mursu treat men, women, and children of all ages.

One example Mursu gave of the benefit of massage was the improved health one of her clients experienced. Mursu said how the woman, who has fibromyalgia, started getting regular massages every two weeks.

"She says she is a lot more active, energized, and feels like a whole new person," Mursu explained.

Some more common aliments that can be treated by massage therapy include: headaches, stress, neck pain, shoulder problems, and back pain. If they see a need for a different type of treatment, Westphal and Mursu will recommend clients to a chiropractor for further care.

"Before we get started with a massage, we go over what we're going to do, answer any questions, and help people feel more comfortable," Mursu explained.

Westphal added how it is important to know which specific areas a client would like worked on. In order to continue to expand their knowledge of exactly how to best treat various conditions, both therapists regularly attend workshops to refresh and enhance their training.

Westphal says, "We are really here to help people; that's why I wanted to get into massage therapy in the first place."