Tyler A. Watson can tell what kind of work week someone has had by the knots of lactic acid in the levator scapulae muscles at the back of the neck.
"They're the ones we use to draw our shoulders up towards our ears, to hunch, and when we get the 'fight or flight' response, the shoulders want to come up," explains Watson, a certified massage therapist. "If you are producing more byproducts than the body can use, your muscles become over dense with them."
Watson is owner of Corporate Touch: Hands-On Stress Solutions, which provides on-site mini-massages to seated, clothed clients at their worksite. Each week, he visits Coldwell Banker Realtors on Route Cherry Hill to rub out stress among the executive staff. Watson also is on hand for massages during Coldwell's twice-monthly manager's meetings.
He brings a special massage chair, a machine called "the thumper" and strong, sensitive fingers.
"From a business point of view, a healthier person is [a] more motivated, more productive person. You can build up into heart attacks, accidents, frustration," says Bernard Doogue, Coldwell's general manager.
Watson combines Swedish and shiatsu massage techniques. Starting at the shoulders, he works his way down the back, then massages each arm and hand before he returns to the shoulders and ends with firm strokes on the spine. During the massage, he will make stress-reduction suggestions to the client.
Massage stimulates circulation of the blood and lymph fluids, fueling muscles with oxygen and nutrients while flushing away metabolic waste products.
Short on-site massages, which are more common on the West Coast, eliminate many objections people may have to massage therapy, Watson notes. "You're not naked, you're not using an hour, you're not covered with oil and you're not prone," he explains.
Each session lasts about 15 minutes. Watson . . . Charges $1 a minute. Some employers provide only the space, some pay half and some cover it as an employee benefit, perhaps offering it as a reward for a team that has been working on a special project.
The massages can be offered during lunch hour or a coffee break. At a recent national sales meeting for U.S. Health Care at the Wyndham Hotel in Philadelphia, Watson arranged for 20 massage therapists to provide two hours of massage for 150 people.
"I find people are very much refreshed by it. They come out looking half dozy," Doogue says. "After a massage, I find my mood, my attitude is much better. He's improved my flexibility quite dramatically. And I don't get the headaches any longer." A few Coldwell employees were hesitant when massages were first offered a year ago, but not Susan Wagner, a secretary.
"I'd taken a massage course several years ago, and I knew what was in store," Wagner says. "Since I've been getting the treatments, I notice a difference in the way I feel. It helps your attitude a lot."
Doogue, noting he was receptive to the idea of massages in part because his Australian mother was a physiotherapist, says the Friday afternoon stroking sessions help his employees wind down for the weekend.
"It's a benefit we can give that is more beneficial than the money," he notes. "In years to come, we will come to realize this sort of preventive medicine is very valuable."
She adds that some weeks--such as those in which she spends a lot of time working at a computer printing up commission checks--she especially looks forward to the massage.
"My upper arm tends to tighten up--adhesions can form--and massage helps
to keep the muscles lubricated, to break it up," she says. "At the
end, he does these quick, invigorating brush strokes that get rid of the
heaviness and the tightness."