Folks, it’s that time again and we’re back with the next instalment of our interview series with our marvellous Massage Therapy team. This go round, the spotlight is on our Neighbourhood Massage’s own Kim Hartford, who has been in practice as an RMT for 25 years, is a longstanding member of our team with a very loyal fan base. When Kim is not busy helping her clients feel better, she’s likely to be found adjudicating the registration exams for the newest crop Registered Massage Therapists at the CMTO, spending time with her family, or behind her camera capturing as many beautiful images as she can.
Now here’s our Kim…
What is the most rewarding aspect of working as a RMT? The most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of being a massage therapist is having someone arrive at the clinic completely frazzled from life’s stresses and pains, and realizing when they leave that I have been able to rid them of those issues, if only for a little while.
The most challenging thing is the physical aspect. I have been in practice for twenty five years now, and for the last few years it has become more difficult to keep my own muscular ailments in check. I need to listen to my own advice about massage, exercising, getting enough rest and eating right.
What drew you to the profession and what keeps you in it?
Growing up I spent my days in the gym, which led to me studying Kinesiology at the University of Windsor. While there I volunteered at a physiotherapy clinic monitoring the various therapeutic machines used to help the athletes get back on track. Luckily, I also ended up taking a course that dealt with Athletic injuries and various ways to treat them. This was my first experience with learning about massage.
I quickly realized I enjoyed the hands on approach to treating injuries as opposed to using machines. With massage therapy in addition to treating the injury, you also treat any and all areas of discomfort resulting from the body’s attempts to compensate for the pain from the injury site itself. I believe you should treat the body as a unit, because one area can’t function well on its own. Massage therapy allows me to treat my clients holistically – mind and body. Knowing that I’ve helped my clients by relieving their pain, improving their mobility and making them feel better overall, is what keeps me in the business.
What unique skills do you bring to the team at Neighbourhood Massage? What would you say is your area of expertise in your practice as a therapist?
Having a Kinesiology degree gives me greater understanding of how the body functions and which areas to target when various conditions are presented to me. I have also taken courses in Myofascial Release, Deep Tissue Neuromuscular Therapy and Craniosacral Therapy, which gives me a variety of techniques to draw on when treating clients. No two clients are ever the same, so being able to adapt treatments to address each client’s specific needs is important to my work. Over the course of my career, I have developed the ability to read the muscles and work at the level each individual needs. Deep tissue and Sports Massage are my areas of expertise, though I also work well with younger children because of my experience with my own kids.
Staying active and being proactive about your healthcare will go along way to maintaining a high quality of life as you age.
Kim Hartford, RMT
What is the most common complaint your clients come in with and how do you help them deal with it?
I would say the most common ailments my clients come in with are upper back and neck pain. By combining deep tissue massage, fascial release, stretching, and low grade joint play of the shoulder blade and spinal segments, I’m able to reduce pain and restriction in these areas.
For years I’ve been telling my clients to set an alarm on their computers to remind them to step away from their desk every hour or so, and now the research is backing me up. Our bodies are meant to move and recent studies show that sitting all day can really be detrimental to your health. The decrease in circulation that occurs with long bouts of sitting greatly increases the risk of developing a multitude of physical ailments. Anyone who works at a desk needs to make sure their work station is configured ergonomically and vigilantly watch their posture, to reduce the stress on their body.
Finally, I always stress the importance of exercising regularly to my clients, even if its just going for a long walk and stretching afterwards. If you’re not living an active lifestyle, you really need to figure out what type of exercise works for you, so you are more likely to get moving and stick with it.
What is the one piece of advice you wish all your clients would follow consistently to improve their overall health and well-being? How good are you at following your own advice?
As I said before, always keep moving! Movement is essential for our bodies to function properly as we age. Take my father-in-law for example. He lived an active lifestyle until he was 90 years old, exercising every day to keep his joints moving so that he could ultimately do the activity he enjoyed most – golf. He also acted quickly, getting treatment for any aches or pains that arose right away, so he could get back to the golf course sooner.
I try to keep active and give myself a break when I occasionally lose my way. Life gets busy sometimes and I know I will get back to it eventually.
Kim can be found at the clinic Tuesdays 11:30am until 7pm,
Wednesdays & Fridays 10am to 4pm, and Thursdays 10am to 1:30 pm.