Feb 052002
 
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Free time. It’s a time to forget your worries, take a break from the hassles of the day and relax.

While some play basketball or drink a beer, others choose to use a little of their free time to get a massage.

Not only is massage a great way to relax, but it also is “a great form of preventive health care,” said Alexander Gaebler, licensed massage therapist.

Therapists agree that massage therapy has numerous health benefits including increasing flexibility, strengthening and toning muscles, relieving muscle tension and promoting clearer thinking.

“Most importantly, massage is great for the soul and feels darn good,” said J Mater, of Tutta Bellas Spa in Fort Collins.

Massage therapy is no longer just for older generations, Mater said. Mater has clients ranging from age seven to age 95.

Gaebler, who does massage therapy with the CSU swim team twice a week, even does massages on dogs and cats.

“People bring their pets in for massages to help them relax,” Gaebler said. “Massage really helps animals with arthritis,” he added.

Many students feel their budget maybe too tight for a massage, but many budget-friendly options are available.

The CSU Student Recreation Center has four licensed massage therapists offering massages for $32 for an hour or $17 for a half hour to anyone eligible to use the recreation center, said Loretta Capra, associate director of recreational sports.

Both, Mater and Gaebler, give student discounts.

“Students are some of my more faithful clients,” said Mater, “and I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against because of their financial situation.”

Although Swedish massage – which is soft, relaxing and designed to relieve tension – is the most popular, there are many different types of massage. The therapists at the CSU Recreation Center offer everything from deep tissue and aromatherapy to a combination of shiatsu and Swedish massage.

Gaebler believes sports massage therapy plays a vital role in maintaining an athlete’s health.

“On athletes, passive manipulation is necessary to relax the muscles on the dominant side and to help strengthen the weaker side,” Gaebler said.

Many people are nervous about receiving their first massage, but massage therapists try to put each individual at ease.

“We have four therapists because it’s important that students are comfortable with whomever they choose,” said Capra about the rec. center.

“It’s OK to not know the difference between types of treatments. People need to remember they have a voice.” Mater said. “If they have questions, ask, ask, ask.”

The most important thing to remember when getting a massage is to relax and enjoy it – after all, you are using your valuable free time. n

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