As we approach our one year anniversary of being open, I feel the need to reflect back. For a couple of years I wanted to create a place where athletes could have a one stop wellness shop designed for their specific needs. I always assumed it would be a 5 year out goal as I was working for a local Kalamazoo spa and had a great boss and great coworkers. But then their main location was unexpectedly closed and I found that my hours became fairly limited. I decided this was my kick in the butt to get moving on my vision.
I was expressing my vision to a coworker, and she suggested I talk to Amy Bradley. I remembered Amy from when I was teaching at KCHA, and also I had helped out on a continuing education course on sports massage that she attended. So I called her right away. From the beginning it was clear that we were on the same page with our goals to provide the highest quality massage therapy in the Kalamazoo area combined with other aspects of the grand wellness wheel to support athletes and general public alike. It took us 3 grueling months of searching to find our current locale. Start-up money was minimal, and at the time of opening our place looked bare. But as the year went on, we slowly gave it our unique character touches...as we are most likely touched ourselves. We were able to bring on two additional therapist right away, of which we are down to one. We are still looking for massage therapists for those that are curious.
I think the biggest learning curve for me about opening my own business, is the logistics. Payroll, taxes, record keeping...wow. These things were very overwhelming at first. Even at tax time when we had someone else figuring out everything I messed up, it was still stressful. I gained 15 lbs over the last year as you can tell from the first picture in the slideshow to the last. However now these things are fairly normal, and I even find myself procrastinating, or what my former boss called "waiting for the right time", on my paperwork duties. Now I can focus back on getting myself to a healthy body fat percentage. I think there is a series of KAWBlogs on this endeavor waiting to be written!
Now that the ball is rolling, we hope we start to collect pieces along the way. Our vision is just beginning, someday we will have larger facilities with much more exercise equipment. We'd love to also have a chiropractor and sports psychologist available to our clients. For now though, if we can just focus on providing the best massage therapy, personal training, and nutritional therapy in the Kalamazoo area, I think the rest will follow!
A little over a week ago I fell down my front stoop carrying my 1 year old daughter Norah. I'm still not sure exactly what happened to cause me to stumble. As we fell I lost control of Norah and she hit the ground head first with her neck in an awkward position. I fell a few feet away, and as soon as I hit the ground I popped up to check on her. Natural parental instinct I suppose to check on the offspring. I held my daughter as she cried and even denied giving her up to my wife Kari for a time as I tried to comfort both of us. As I held her I slowly realized my own injuries. I had skinned the tip of my right big toe, and scraped up the arch of my left foot. Finally I gave up Norah...with some convincing from Kari. This is about the time the pain started to settle in for me.
I sat for a bit longer and then finally got up and made my way to the bath tub to clean my wounds. By this time Norah was over the event and laughing with Mommy in the other room. I however wasn't done crying. Both from the pain of my grotesque feet, and from the injury to my soul. This was the first time I felt directly responsible for a near cataclysmic event for my daughter. I cleaned my self, bandaged up, took a large dose of Ibuprofen, and went about my day in a mild haze of drugs, and mental exhaustion.
The next day I began to feel the bruising, and the additional stress placed on my body from the fall, and having to walk awkwardly. By some serendipitous event, one of the clients I was supposed to have that night called and cancelled, I took this as a sign that I do need to take time to heal physically and mentally.
I think back on this and start to really dig into the event, what happened? Did I trip over my own feet, did I catch the edge of the planter, did the dog trip me? But the final result is simply my own awareness. I simply was not in my own body. Maybe its time I start to reconnect with myself on a deeper level again. I have been slacking in the selfcare department for sure. As a healthcare worker, especially one who has to help other heal mentally and physically, we have to be constantly self upgrading and keeping fit mentally and emotionally. But really this is true for anyone. You could be a professional athlete, or a office worker weekend warrior type, but if you don't keep things in balance between the stress and self-care, you will lose, or at least lose your balance and throw your child, either way...not fun.
For my first blog I thought it might be fun to explore the History of Massage in Athletics. Not many people realize how long Massage has been a part of the Sports community. Sports massage can be traced back to 300B.C. Ancient Greece. Olympic athletes and Citizens who attended the gymnasia received massage as part of their training routine. The trainers, called "paidotribes", rubbed the players with oil first in preparation. This was called "tripsis paraskeuastike"(try to say that 3 times fast!). Then after activity the athlete was scraped of dust, oil, and sweat, and then rubbed with oil again. This process was called "apotherapeia". One famous Roman doctor named Galen often wrote on massage before and after exercise as a way to “excite the [the body] to activity and augment its tone,” as well as, “[massage] relaxes tension and softens the parts that have suffered in more violent kinds of exertions.”
In the mid eighteen hundreds P.H. Ling’s system of gymnastics was brought to the United States. Within this system massage was a part of the medical gymnastics approach, thus the term "swedish massage". A man named Hartwig Nissen opened the “Swedish Health Institute for the Treatment of Chronic Diseases by Swedish Movements and Massage” (otherwise known as SHITCDSMM) in 1893 based on Ling’s systems. This was quite possibly the nation’s first massage instruction school. Physical education schools were the primary educator of physical therapy and massage through the 1950's.
In 1947, some guy named Albert Baumgartner (best last name ever) wrote “Massage in Athletics”, One of the first books entirely written about massage for athletes. In his book he defined the three purposes of massage as preparatory, intermediate, and reconditioning. Today these are known as pre-, inter-, and post-event massage. He also stressed the psychological benefits of athletic massage and acknowledged the need for well qualified therapists.
Between 1950 and 1970, sports massage fell to the back burner. In 1972 during the summer Olympics, Lasse Viren set a world-record in the 10K and an Olympic record in the 5K. Runners soon learned that Lasse had been receiving daily massage. This resulted in a rekindled interest in utilizing sports massage. Today sports massage is common place. James Harrison, of NFL fame, spends about 600K per year on the services of chiropractors and massage therapists! Many universities, professional sports teams, and event organizers employ the skills of sports massage specialists to keep athletes healthy and less disgruntled.