When it comes to massage therapy that is part of a movement-oriented clinic, it is important to understand that this is a different approach and treatment style compared to many other massage settings. The focus is always on how the individual moves on a daily basis, their health history, what their movement goals are, and addressing their movement deficits.
“People sometimes have a skewed idea of what massage therapy is and what it can do for them based on previous treatments or even media portrayals of massage,” said Mark Lewis, registered massage therapist (RMT) at Reactivate Muskoka. “Massage therapy has evolved tremendously over the last 20 years. The style of massage therapy that we provide at Reactivate is one in which we examine the root cause of a person’s pain or injury, and then focus on the nuts and bolts of how people move and work. At the end of it all, we want to help them move better. We’re a movement-based clinic and learning to move better is how people preserve their joints, perform better in their sport, or just live a healthy, active life to the best of their abilities.”
Lewis’ background is in personal training, specializing in kettlebell and functional strength training. From this foundation of knowledge of human movement, anatomy, and biomechanics, it was a natural transition for him to pursue a career in massage therapy.
“I’ve always had an interest in sports, athletics, and helping people move and feel better,” he said. “I specialize in soft-tissue therapy. My background as a fitness coach helps me think about how people move, how they become restricted, and what kind of interventions they need. As a member of the Reactivate team, I focus primarily on the soft-tissue side of things. With my patients, I’m constantly evaluating tissue tension, how their joints are moving, their level and quality of general movement, and what exercises I can offer them to bolster what I’m trying to achieve with them.”
As a sport massage therapist candidate with the Canadian Sport Massage Therapist Association, Lewis aims to specialize in sport massage for athletes at levels ranging from grassroots to professional athletes.
“My style of massage therapy seems to fit in really well with the Reactivate Muskoka clinic treatment philosophy and model because we have so many athletic people here in Muskoka,” he said. “I appreciate being part of a collaborative team here. My specialty is more on the soft-tissue side of things, feeling what’s going on in the tissue and working with that. I’m thinking about the quality of movement in people’s hips, their knees, their hands, and everything really. I take this information along with their symptomatology and try to determine the root cause of their issue and how I can help them get better. If a patient requires more than what I can provide for them, I will not hesitate to refer them to one of our other great clinic practitioners, all of whom have their own unique skill sets. I have found this collaboration to be extremely beneficial for the wellbeing of the patient, and it has worked very, very well in the past. It is important to be able to offer different treatment options to best suit the patient. For my patients who are interested, I provide home-care exercises as well. This has been a game-changer for many people; not just coming in for a passive treatment and having it end there. I enjoy being able to educate and work with my patients so that they can learn to take better care of themselves, too.”
Laura Caldwell, a second registered massage therapist who works at Reactivate Muskoka, also has an athletic background as a provincial-level ringette coach and trainer. Helping others feel relief to live their daily lives better has been both satisfying and fulfilling for her.
“I’m keenly interested in what brings my patients in to see me for a treatment. What is their story, their background, what is the history of their injuries, aches and pains. Additionally, what they love to do—so it’s easier for me to get them back to their goal, whether it’s someone who wants to get back into CrossFit or a person who loves gardening but they can’t because their lower back is bothering them,” said Caldwell. “There’s such wide variation in what brings people into the clinic. They can be athletic but they can also be an everyday person who wants to get back to an everyday activity. Or it could be as simple as you hurt your back and you can’t do a normal daily activity like take a shower. There’s varying degrees of injuries, as well as different end goals for everyone when we know that our team at Reactivate has succeeded in getting them back to what they love to do.”
Having new space—Reactivate recently moved to a new location at 10 Howland Drive—and various professionals in one building has tremendous benefits for clients, noted Caldwell.
“The new space has made for a lot more awareness. People are coming in for different reasons; we have a larger team, so people are coming in because they know we have more services to offer. The modalities are interlaced with each other—someone might start with chiropractic care and then realize they need massage or physical therapy for a muscle imbalance.”
COVID-19 has put a unique twist on how people work and play, one that can be addressed through movement-based care.
“Reactivate is all about keeping the community in Muskoka active. It doesn’t matter if you’re a high performance or professional athlete, someone who plays sport recreationally at any age or any level, or someone who likes to go for walks or putter around in the yard. Everyone’s end goal is different, but the way we treat them is the same. Getting people to move again and finding that balance,” said Caldwell. “COVID-19 has added a lot more stress; people have more stress, they’re working from home with homemade desks. There’s a lot of chronic pain because they went without treatment for three-and-a-half months, so now we’re working out all those kinks.”
Caldwell hopes people begin to understand how massage therapy can help them to live life better and how it differs from going to the spa for a soft, relaxation-style massage.
“Massage can do so much for people, and people may not realize how much it can do,” said Caldwell. “I want people to get more educated about how massage, physio, and chiro can help them together as a unit, rather than just looking at each therapy independent of each other. It physically makes a change in how you can move. There’s also the positives of endorphin release and mood-altering benefits. I hope people realize it can do something for them or a loved one.”
The goal is to focus on the patients’ longevity, engagement in life through activity, and enjoying every adventure that comes their way.
“I’m interested in helping people move better for the long term, beyond simply a temporary reprieve from their pain,” said Lewis. “Of course, every patient is unique and multi-faceted, with some requiring more frequent interventions, but I want my patients to know what they can do on a daily basis to keep themselves healthy and active. If their health is improving it means I have the capacity to help others.
“We’re all active people at Reactivate. We appreciate the role movement and fitness play in our lives and we want that for everyone else as well. Being able to work together to determine the appropriate intervention at the appropriate time for patients is hugely beneficial.”
Learn more about massage therapy, or consider booking an appointment online at Reactivate Muskoka, along with all of the clinic’s other services, at reactivatemuskoka.com, and follow them on social media on Facebook and Instagram as @reactivatemuskoka.
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