A hands-on profession


Licensed certified massage therapist Rezakkah Norins, owner of Nurture Massage and Spa in Brighton, gives a Swedish massage to her daughter and regular client, Jennifer Barden. (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

A good massage therapist is like a talented martial artist: someone who surprises clients with her power and intensity, says practitioner Rezakkah Norins.

“Massage is all about establishing a rhythm that’s relaxing and creating continuity so that you’re transitioning from one area to another in a connected way,” says Norins, who has a small private practice in Brighton and also works part-time for a spa.

Massage has moved out of sleazy back parlor rooms to become an accepted healing therapy with therapeutic and rejuvenating benefits. According to industry statistics, almost a quarter of adult Americans had a massage at least once in the last 12 months, with employment for massage therapists expected to increase 20 percent by 2016. And with the anxiety of widespread unemployment, housing foreclosures and rising prices, massage can help manage stress.


“I see people suffering from headaches, chronic back problems, sciatica, TMJ – you name it,” says Norins, who sees a diverse clientele, from construction workers to doctors. “More and more, science is validating the healing ability of massage.”

Q: What is the most dramatic success story that you’ve had as a massage therapist?
A: A woman came in who was very distraught – she had a child in the hospital with a neurological problem, and she was all shut down. As I worked with her, doing mostly relaxation massage, I encouraged her to breath more deeply. More and more of her emotions started to come up, and she burst into tears, letting all her fear and anger out. When we were done, she was almost radiant. She thanked me profusely – she said it was like having a heavy weight lifted off her. Massage is not just about loosening muscles and improving circulation but also getting rid of tension and blockages.
Q: What are the requirements to become a massage therapist?
You can get your training at a community college, professional vocation schools or dedicated massage institution. States have various regulations for operating a massage therapy establishment, including passing a national certification exam; you also need to meet cleanliness standards, such as using clean linens and disinfectant.
Q: What do you think of those vibrating massage chairs at the malls or the walk-in massage places?
It’s a good quick fix to get a knot worked out or problem area that’s stretched. You can get pretty relaxed in the course of 15 minutes. I’ve done it myself – even gone into Brookstone just to sit in the massage chairs.
Q: You get massages yourself, then?
Absolutely. I trade with colleagues for their services. I’m very fussy – I look for someone who has an attunement to the amount of pressure, speed of strokes, and a certain quality of touch.
Q: How do you convince someone who doesn’t believe in bodywork?
I don’t spend a lot of time trying to sway people. Either you’re ready for massage therapy or you’re not. But it’s definitely a feel-good option for many.

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