Chances are when you made out your Christmas wish list you didn't put a massage on it a little extravagance two local massage therapist say make excellent gifts.
In part to demonstrate the benefits of therapeutic massage, and in part to give something back to the community over the holidays, the two Nadine DuFour of Payson and Pamela Packard of Pine recently completed a round of complimentary 10-minute chair massages on firefighters and other employees of the Payson Fire Department.
"It's our way of saying thank you for all the work they do for the town," said DuFour, who just moved to the Rim country from the Cleveland area over Labor Day weekend.
"I came up with the idea after reading this newspaper article about building a strong nation one community at a time," she said. "It talked about how we internalize our celebrations over the holidays by spending it with family, and how we need to give outward thanks to the public servants in our community who help us survive."
DuFour told Packard, a fellow therapist she had only recently met, about the article, and the two approached Fire Chief John Ross with their offer. When he agreed, they scheduled two, two-hour sessions at the Main Street fire station.
"We have special portable chairs that people kneel on with their arms and chest against a cushion and their face in a donut," said Packard, who moved to Pine from the Detroit area five years ago. "In the 10-minute chair massages, we focus on the neck, back and shoulders."
Besides her hands, Packard also employs the handle end of a golf club to provide a little more firepower when kneading taut muscles.
"I saw it demonstrated on TV, and as strange as it looks, it really works very well," she said.
Both DuFour, whose business is primarily outcall in patient's homes, and Packard, who also works out of a local doctor's office, are passionate about the benefits of massage in today's hectic and harried world.
"Massage is one of the best known antidotes for stress," Packard said. Reducing stress gives you more energy, improves your outlook on life, and, in the process, reduces your likelihood of illness or injury."
DuFour says their claims for the benefits of massage can be backed scientifically.
"Massage acts as a 'mechanical cleanser,' stimulating lymph circulation and helping to eliminate wastes and toxins," she said. "Massage increases the blood supply and nutrition to muscles without adding to their load of toxic lactic acid produced through voluntary muscle contraction."
Since the holidays can be a stressful time, DuFour says chair massages are great gifts for a business to give their staff.
"I used to do it a lot in Cleveland," she said. "I'd go into the business with my chair, and just do everybody.
"The employees love it, and it has benefits for the employer too. It increases productivity, and it's also a morale booster.
It's just a great way for an employer to say thank you.
Cost to the employer is usually $1 a minute, Packard said.
"If you want your employees to have 10-minute chair massages, each one would cost $10," she said.
Of course, full body massages also make great Christmas gifts, Packard said. When done on an outcall basis, the therapist takes a portable massage table to the client's home.
Packard and DuFour both charge $60 for a one-hour, in-home massage, and will do two in the same home for $100.
While massage therapists are trained and licensed to practice their craft, all have their own techniques, Packard said.
"I personally think the best way to find a therapist is through a referral," she said. "Then you are basing your decision on what somebody has already experienced. A common question I get is, 'How deep do you go?' Some therapists think it has to be deep. I answer that question by telling them that I evaluate the body and see what it needs."
Packard recommends calling a therapist on the phone first and asking a few questions. DuFour agrees.
"You need to trust your massage therapist to recognize what's best for you, and you have to establish communication both before and during a massage," she said.