Work isn’t always easy on our bodies. The bending. The lifting. The squatting. The sitting? Each of those things can create many strains and pains — some in places we didn’t know existed.

Arnold Kelly is a licensed massage therapist and physical therapy attendant at Spain Rehabilitation Center. The Massage Therapy Program is available to UAB faculty, staff and students by appointment only.

Arnold Kelly, licensed massage therapist and physical therapy attendant at Spain Rehabilitation Center, says massage therapy is a safe and effective way to relieve the aches and tension that come along with every day life. Now Spain Rehab is offering a Massage Therapy Program to UAB faculty and staff and their immediate family members, and to students. The service is not available to hospital patients or the general public.

Appointments are available Tuesdays and Thursdays by calling 975-4922. Appointment times are from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. with more timeslots opening in the near future. The price for a massage is $35 for 30 minutes and $60 for 60 minutes.

The UAB Reporter recently asked Kelly questions about massage therapy, its benefits and the new program.

Q. Do you get massage therapy for yourself?
A. Every chance I get.  I try to get a full-body massage at least once a month.

Q. How has massage therapy benefited you?
A. It has taught me how to be more aware of my body. It has also made those everyday little aches and pains easier to deal with by making my muscles more relaxed and flexible. It has also improved my overall outlook on life.

Q. Why was the service offered to UAB employees?
A.  The thinking behind it was that massage therapy would be a fantastic benefit for the employees here at UAB. What with the daily stress of caring for patients at the hospital, teaching students at the university, or just simply dealing with life itself. Who wouldn’t want to spend 30 to 60 minutes of “me-time” to get rid of those aches and pains? 

Q. Who can benefit from massage therapy?
A.  Anyone who doesn’t have an acute, contagious or contraindicated condition can benefit from massage. Something as simple as small cold could be reason enough to avoid massage therapy until you are well. More serious conditions may require a visit to the doctor to make sure that massage won’t exacerbate the condition.

Q. Back pain is a common problem. How can massage therapy help?
A. One of the immediate benefits of massage therapy is the relaxation of the muscles. Most back pain is caused by muscles staying in a contracted state. The techniques used in massage (effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, etc.)  force new, fresh blood into the tissues while at the same time lengthening the muscles. This causes the muscle to release the contracted state and return to its normal state.

Q. You said “immediate benefits.” Are there long-term benefits?
A. Absolutely. The long-term effects are cumulative and can range anywhere from an improved range of motion and a generally good sense of well-being, to an improvement in your immune system and lower blood pressure.

Q. Why do you think doctors prescribe message therapy for patients?
A.  Massage therapy is as old as man himself. There is countless documentation of ancient pictures depicting someone receiving a massage. But with the advancement of modern medicine, the use of massage therapy fell to the wayside. It has really only been in the past few decades that massage therapy has once again been considered an excellent complementary therapy to the treatments that doctors normally prescribe. 

Q. What kind of message therapies are available in your program? Swedish? Relaxation? Rehabilitation?
A. I offer a variety of therapies. For those clients who want a full-body massage there is Swedish massage, which is just a simple relaxation massage. There is Deep Tissue for those who have deeper aches and pains that Swedish simply won’t take care of. For specific problems (knots, adhesions, scars, etc.) there are techniques such as Trigger Point and Neuromuscular Therapy available. For someone with tight muscles, I may use Sports Massage, which consists mainly of stretching and compression techniques. For most of my clients I tend to do a hybrid therapy, which is a mixture of all the above. 

Q. Do you encourage your clients to communicate their needs to you before and during a message?
A. Definitely. That is part of the process. By communicating with the client during the session I am able to adjust my techniques for their particular issues. I want clients to leave feeling like they’ve been taken care of, and I can’t do that properly without communication.

Q. What would you say to those who have thought about getting a therapeutic massage but fear it may hurt?
A. Pain is a very subjective matter. What might hurt one person so much they cry might not even faze another person. When asked about the possibility of therapeutic discomfort — hurt is such a bad word — I inform the client that if they receive anything other than Swedish they can expect to feel some discomfort during the session. I also let them know that by communicating with me during the session I can keep that level of discomfort at a manageable level for them. Most clients that I see don’t really mind a little discomfort when they know that it will feel much better shortly.

Q. What about those people who are nervous about disrobing in order to receive a full-body massage?
A. If you don’t have the time to come into the office or aren’t sure about getting a full-body massage, we also offer seated massage. Seated massage is great for those departments who are looking for something special to do for their staff as it doesn’t require you to go anywhere. The therapist comes to you. And you don’t have to get undressed, which tends to be one of the major hindrances to someone receiving a massage. A seated massage can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes and is meant to be more of an invigorating massage. With the short time spent in the chair, several people can be seen in an hour, depending on the length of time booked and the number of people.  Seated massage is booked in 60-minute blocks only.  Departments who are interested in seated massage can call 975-4922 to ask more information and schedule an appointment.

Q. What method of payment do you accept?
A. We currently only accept cash (exact change, please) and checks.  We hope to be able to accept credit cards and payroll deductions in the future.