Here’s the rub
Below is a list of local licensed massage therapists. For more massage or various particular styles, see the Yellow Pages or look online.
A note: Licensed massage therapists say tipping is appropriate after receiving a treatment. “They’re providing a service, but it’s a physically laborious service,” said Beth Jameson, director of the NCH Wellness Center.
A gratuity of 18 to 20 percent is the standard amount for a nearly one-hour massage; at least $5 for a 20- to 25-minute chair massage. Of course, clients may want tip more for exceptional service.
NCH wellness centers
Locations: Whitaker Wellness Center, 2330 Immokalee Road, Suite 1; 596-9200; Briggs Wellness Center, 399 U.S. 41 N.,
436-6770 or www.nchmd.org/wellness
Cost: $75 for 50 minutes (nonmember rate); $60 for 50 minutes (member rate);
25- and 75-minute massages also available
Massage Envy Naples
Locations: 6345 Naples Blvd. Suite A3, Naples, 325-ENVY; 8001 Plaza Del Lago Drive, Estero, 947-3689 or www.massageenvy.com
Cost: $49 introductory rate for first-time clients; $78 for 50 minutes (nonmember rate); $59 for 50 minutes (member rate, additional discounts may apply)
2355 Vanderbilt Beach Road, 514-2211 or www.ETMnaples.com
Cost: $79 for 55 minutes (nonmember rate); $59 for 55 minutes (member rate, additional discounts may apply)
A car accident in 2005 forced Denise Durgin, of Naples, to undergo two back surgeries and a partial hip replacement. Despite the operations, she says she suffered constant, excruciating lower back pain which required multiple shots of pharmaceutical nerve blockers every three months, leaving her without any feeling in her leg for several hours and unable to drive.
Durgin admits she didn’t believe in the benefits of massage until she started to work at Massage Envy, a local massage therapy franchise. Co-workers urged her to have deep tissue massages each week for a month to loosen her back muscles and provide some relief.
“After one month, I no longer needed the nerve block,” said Durgin, who adds that her relief continued to improve over time. In fact, she says she hasn’t taken medication for her back in three years.
That’s consistent with a new study conducted by Seattle’s Group Health Research Institute, which suggests that massage therapy provides greater back pain relief than conventional medicine alone. The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that massage recipients spent fewer days in bed, were more active and took fewer medications.
The findings could provide a new treatment approach for the 70 to 85 percent of Americans who experience back pain at some time, and come as no surprise to Southwest Florida massage therapists and back pain sufferers.
In the Seattle study, participants who had chronic back pain for no identifiable cause were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: pressure-point massage (also known as deep tissue), relaxation massage (Swedish) or usual treatment — which often included medication. After 10 weeks, more than one in three patients who received massages said their back pain had lessened or ceased. By comparison, one in 25 patients who got usual care reported improvements.
“My take on (the study) is that human touch will always outdo conventional medicine,” said Jason Anzalone, a licensed massage therapist at NCH Healthcare System’s Wellness Center, who uses massage to help clients not only with sore muscles, but carpal tunnel syndrome, pinched nerves, migraines and more. Some of Anzalone’s clients have been able to stop taking pain medication after undergoing regular massages.
“Many people are looking for a different avenue. They don’t want to have to use medication.”
Anzalone explains that patients with chronic back pain will experience some relief after just one massage, but they’ll feel even greater improvement with regular massage treatments, usually once a week to start, followed by monthly or bi-monthly massages to keep muscles loose.
Research suggests that massage stimulates injured issue and calms the central nervous system. Other studies credit massage for increasing the immune system, reducing allergies and improving sleep.
“I think of massage as a super vitamin because it helps with so many things,” added Alex Ramirez, L.M.T. at Massage Envy, and noted that professional athletes have long known the benefits of massage.
In Ramirez’s experience, clients who are physically active or have muscle strains and spasms see greater improvement through deep tissue massage, although the Seattle study found relaxation massage provided just as much relief.
“Human touch produces endorphins, too” said Leah Sandras, L.M.T. of Elements Therapeutic Massage in North Naples.
Client Barbara Koch used to get massages purely for relaxation, but switched to deep tissue after suffering arthritis pain which required medication. Three years later, Koch is off her meds and says massage is part of her personal wellness plan.
Although many people believe massage therapy is nothing more than a luxury, local massage therapists hope the new study will lead to a better appreciation of massage as an effective medical treatment.
Roberto Daza of the Seattle Times contributed to this article.