In Expert Hands
I don’t know about any of you, but I have been to a million different massage therapists over the years. From the ones who give you a 10 minute massage at some special event to ones I see over and over again for a period of time. There have been many massage therapists I could consider good or even top notch, but it wasn’t until I had a massage with Colleen that I had the experience of being floored, earning her the reputation of “the best.” Ever. My first massage with her was at Cherry Blossom last year when she set up her table and offered massage at one of the team houses. Recently I started seeing her on somewhat of a regular basis to attempt to get the upper hand on some chronic pain that was affecting my training and just my general well-being. Colleen’s move to The Bohdi Tree makes it even more convenient for me to see her.
Considering Colleen to be the best massage therapist I have ever seen, I was still somewhat skeptical of anything more powerful than the pain from my old injury. I had tried a lot of avenues to combat the referred pain from the arthritis in my wrist, including supplements, acupuncture, heat therapy, occupational therapy, etc. The massage treatments for this specific pain were definitely not your “kick back and relax” type of massages (although she does those too), they were focused, active, specific and sometimes very intense, but a few days after just one treatment I was experiencing relief! And since I have been seeing Colleen regularly I have not experienced the degree of pain that I was routinely experiencing before. I decided since she recently became a sponsor of Sorella Forte, moved her second office to a new location and because I think she is The Best, she deserved a bit of a spotlight. Hence the article. I sat down and did an informal interview because I thought we should all know a little bit more about Colleen and her massage practice.
Q: What types of massage do you perform?
A: Therapeutic, myofascial, deep tissue, prenatal, relaxation.
Q: What first got you interested in becoming a massage therapist?
A: I was treated with chiropractic and massage for a chronically tight IT band injury from running marathons and half marathons. Once I was treated and experienced that kind of work I was curious and decided to go to school. That was about 12 years ago.
Q: What school did you go to?
A: East West College of The Healing Arts, here in Portland, when it was on SE Belmont. I took classes in the evening and worked full time during the day. I was licensed in 2000.
Q: Ten years is along time to work the same position; what has kept you in the field?
A: I have had burn out, but now that I know the symptoms I can prevent it from happening. It took me a while to figure out how to really take care of myself in my work and I think that’s how I got burned out. Being athletic has helped me with the endurance part of this work, it helps me stay focused and solid, both in a mental and physical frame of mind. I am strong and I keep my core strong so that the work I do doesn’t injure my back. The maximum number of massages I will give in a day is four. Doing massage takes a lot of energy and as a massage therapist I try to stay level headed. I have learned a lot about compassion in this work, and at the same time I have learned that I can’t take things personally. I can’t please everyone.
Q: What percentage of your clients are also athletes?
A: I would say, 80% are athletic.
Q: What percentage of your clients come to treat chronic injuries or pain?
A: I would say that about 10 to 20% come in with chronic pain issues such as migraine issues, upper shoulder and neck discomfort, and some with low back pain and stiffness. Some of these clients come in frequently for preventative care.
Q: What do you mean by preventative care? How does massage help with that?
A: If you are training for a specific event, let’s say, and you’ve had a history of injury or you are training and don’t want to get injured, massage therapy is a great way to prevent an injury from happening or happening again. It works because massage stretches the muscles, increases flexibility, and decreases muscle tightness. It increases blood flow and circulation to the area to help heal the muscle tissue after a hard workout. Everyone’s body is fascially connected. Fascia is a type of web-connective tissue that is subcutaneous. Myofascia is fascia that surrounds our muscles. When someone has a chronic holding pattern (such as the way a person holds her head, how she sits at her computer, how she carries a purse or shoulder bag, etc.) or an acute or chronic injury, there is potential for pain and decrease in movement because the fascia and myofascia get “stuck” or bound up. In order to decrease the pain and increase movement that fascia and myofscia needs to be softened (make more pliable and supple).
Q: You have been a Sorella for a long time; what just recently made you decide to become a sponsor?
A: I have been a Sorella since 2002. I think my practice is at a point where it made sense. Going back to knowing how much massage helps individuals, it is one way I can help my club and teammates. Some people think massage is such a luxury so financially I want to be able to allow them that luxury if that is how they view it. Personally, I view it as a necessity, but I may be bias.
Colleen on the final corner of Battle At Barlow
Q: How much of it has to do with relationship?
A: I would say that this sponsorship is a great way for me to individually get to know each member a bit more, as I don’t have the opportunity to ride with all of them. I am looking forward to meeting a lot of the new women who have recently joined Sorella.
Q: What are a few things that are really rewarding for you in this type of work?
A: It is simple, but it means a lot… When a client trusts me. It’s rewarding when a client comes back to see me or refers a friend, family member or co-worker; when a client leaves with a smile on her face; and, when a client tells me she feels some change from the work I’ve just performed. It’s rewarding when a client’s goal is simply to relax for an hour or 90 minutes, and I help the client reach that goal.
I would like to end this article with a little analogy I made up on a recent team ride, while riding close, right next to Colleen, chatting. You know when you are getting a massage and the therapist is pressing on your muscle with a lot of pressure and holding that pressure as they follow the contour of your muscle up or down? You know sometimes there is that slip that occurs and you can sometimes anticipate it happening, but it catches the therapist by surprise and they say, “Oops!” or “Sorry!” I liken it to “holding your line” in a paceline or in a race. It takes great skill, focus, concentration and practice. I have been amazed over and over again at how Colleen can flawlessly hold her line on my muscles, as if she is crystal clear on where they begin and end. Experiencing this as part of a massage treatment allows me to relax more with 100% trust, as I am in expert hands.
Colleen and her cozy heated table at The Bodhi Tree
For an appointment with Colleen, call 503-816-4179.