This month, the IN spoke with Stephanie Knight, owner of 2010 Best of the Coast Winner Escape Wellness Spa. The business owner and massage therapist tells us how a shoulder surgery impacted her career goals, describes her unique massage therapy approach, and reveals the variety of benefits massage therapy offers.
IN: What’s your background in massage therapy?
KNIGHT: I have been a licensed massage therapist for nearly 10 years now. I have taken courses with the masters of massage, including Myoskeletal Alignment with Erik Dalton, Orthopedic Massage with James Waslaski, Postural Alignment-Body Reading with Thomas Meyers, and Thai Yoga Bodywork with Michael Buck. I have taken various courses in medical massage, sports massage and manual lymphatic drainage as well, and I also have my certification in prenatal massage. I worked at a local gym and then a salon and day spa for five years as an independent contractor before opening my own business, Escape Wellness Spa.
IN: What drew you to the field of massage therapy?
KNIGHT: I had to go through physical therapy after shoulder surgery when I was 15 years old. I was very inspired by my physical therapist and wanted to be able to help people the way she helped me. I have also always intuitively known the benefits of touch and how much people need it. I waited tables for six years at Applebee’s while I was in high school and in college working toward becoming an occupational therapist. When the program switched to a master’s degree, I decided I wanted a more rewarding job while I was finishing my degree. I put my degree on hold to go to massage school and ended up falling in love with massage therapy. Massage therapy became my passion and career and I quickly built an overflowing clientele.
IN: Where did you receive your training?
KNIGHT: I attended Pensacola School of Massage. However, I have traveled to New York, Boston, Atlanta, the CORE Institute in Tallahassee, Costa Rica, etc. to continue my education.
IN: What types of problems or issues do you usually treat?
KNIGHT: I see a number of clients with chronic pain, mental fatigue, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. However, I mostly treat people who sit in a flexed position at work all day. Many people have a general lack of flexibility, thoracic strain, and neck and lower back ache. The body is like a flowing river. When it is stagnant for an extended period of time, illness, disease and pain can settle in. I help get the blood flowing again, and increase movement so that the blockages are freed. This helps to keep the body moving, flowing and healthy. Rather than pain management, I think of massage therapy as “wellness management.”
IN: What types of massage therapy do you practice?
KNIGHT: I have an eclectic style that combines a little bit of everything I’ve learned into one, which includes myoskeletal alignment (which means muscle-bone alignment), structural/postural alignment, myofacial release, orthopedic, medical, sports, prenatal, Swedish massage, and Thai Yoga bodywork (which includes a lot of stretching). I have worked with so many different clients from all walks of life. I customize each treatment to fit the individual needs of the client—whether they sit too much, play a lot of sports or anything in between. My philosophy is that massage should be a “hurt good,” helping feeling, not a painful, unpleasant experience.
IN: Many people associate massage therapy with relaxation. What additional benefits do your clients experience from massage therapy?
KNIGHT: In addition to providing relaxation, massage helps to alleviate lower back pain and improve range of motion. It eases medication dependence and enhances immunity by stimulating lymph flow. Massage exercises and stretches weak, tight or atrophied muscles and helps athletes of any level prepare for and recover from strenuous workouts. It helps to improve the condition of the skin, increases joint mobility and reduces spasms and cramping. Treatment also lessens depression and anxiety, promotes tissue regeneration, improves circulation, relaxes and softens muscles, releases endorphins, relieves migraine pain, assists with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shortens maternity hospital stays.
IN: What do you enjoy most about your job?
KNIGHT: Being thanked every hour at your job is quite enjoyable. It’s most rewarding to see people have results and improve from the therapy; people who come in and can’t lift their arm or turn their head, leave with a smile on their face, and have better range of motion and less pain. It is always a privilege when my clients purchase gift certificates for a loved one or friend, giving me the opportunity to take care of them for a special occasion or just because. I feel so honored by my clients’ trust in me, and it inspires me to give my best. I love inspiring my clients to take better care of themselves, but I’m also here for them when they fall off track. We just start a new day and keep moving forward.
Escape Wellness Spa
4400 Bayou Blvd. Suite 24
478-2273, or escapeandfeelbetter.com