By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski, Foothills Focus Executive Editor
Susan Clark is all about education.
When her Clark Bodywork Therapies clients visit her, she shares her treatments on an oversized muscle chart on her wall.
“I show them where muscles connect and why I worked other areas,” Clark said. “A lot of people who have low back pain have super tight muscles in their pelvic region. They’re amazed at how their low back pain is gone after I’ve worked it.
“I work the deep core muscles.”
Clark, a board-certified, licensed massage therapist, is a member of American Massage Therapy Association and a 2004 graduate of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, specializing in therapeutic massage.
Clark, who works out of her Cave Creek home, said one patient’s chiropractor wanted her to have an MRI because she wasn’t improving. After her first treatment with Clark, she started feeling better.
“She could walk normal again,” she said. “When the psoas muscles are tight, it affects low back pain. You feel like an old woman hunched over walking. You can’t straighten up. It’s so gratifying. I love doing this work.”
Clark decided to pursue a career in massage after she stopped working with horses. In 2003, when she was 50 and her last horse had to be put down, she attended Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe.
“It’s something I had been thinking about for a while,” said Clark. “If a horseback rider wants to get better, a massage is excellent for that. If someone is tense, the horse can feel it. The gait may not be as smooth because the rider is stiff.
“I was also tired of working in the corporate world. I thought I could be working for myself. I worked in research and development and saw how the FDA worked. Drugs have their place; however, I think people end up using them chronically. It’s killing them. I always had a passion for exercising, working out and weightlifting. I was a speed skater when I was younger in Chicago.”
For their first appointments, Clark offers a consultation, during which she describes pain and referral pain.
“A lot of people say, ‘Just give me a massage in this area,’” Clark said. “Sure, they’re hurting there, but this is where the pain’s coming from. I usually tell them I’ll do a whole-body massage but focus on that area.”
When she founded Clark Bodywork Therapies, she quickly learned people don’t like the phrase “deep-tissue massage.” Many, she discovered, do not understand fully what it means.
“They think we have to hurt them,” Clark said. “If that’s what they want, fine. I try to explain to them there’s so much more involved.
“We have fascia that runs through our body. They’re like three-dimensional webs that hold the muscles together. If the fascia is tight, the muscles can’t glide against each other. I work the fascia first and go into deep tissue. Then, sometimes it’s easier to get into the deeper tissue, so you don’t have to inflict pain.”
Besides deep-tissue massage, her services include Swedish massage, manual lymphatic massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage and reiki. For deep-tissue and Swedish massages, her prices are $45 for 30 minutes, $60 for 60 minutes and $85 for 90 minutes. The manual lymphatic massage is $80 for 60 minutes. The hot stone massage is $90 for 60 minutes and $120 for 90 minutes. The prenatal massage is $55 for 30 minutes and $75 for 60 minutes. Reiki is $50 for 30 minutes and $80 for 60 minutes.
She’s discovered ways to make it less painful. She slows down the stroke, stops at a trigger point and holds it.
“There are a lot of things you can do to actually make deep tissue feel good,” she said. “If my clients say, ‘That’s a good hurt,’ that’s awesome. When they start tensing up, it’s counterproductive. They’re tensing their muscles and undoing what you’re trying to get done.”
For products, she uses Biotone, which is all natural without parabens. Eugene, Oregon-based Soothing Touch provides more than 200 natural, high-quality massage and spa products that Clark adores. She is one of many therapists and customers around the world who use its Ayurvedic creams and lotions, topical pain relief gels, body butters, then organic sugar and salt scrubs.
Bon Vital is the third product she utilizes. It’s made with all-natural and organic products. Finally, Amrita is a family-owned, family-friendly manufacturer that specializes in organic essential oils of the highest purity. The company also utilizes 140 essential oils, all of which have been tested for purity using gas chromatography and other tests.
Susan Clark, LMT, NCBTMB
Clark Bodywork Therapies