Joan Cole Massage

State of the Art Bodywork at Studio Helix

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Seated Massage

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Seated massage is my favorite way to quickly address uncomplicated neck and shoulder issues. For seated work I have clients sit in an ordinary straight backed chair. Massage strokes can range from compressions, trigger point work and direct myofascial release to Chinese rolling strokes, forearm work and passive joint movement. Choose chair massage to recharge when you're tired, or your muscles hurt from too much time at the desk or behind the wheel.


With chair massage, the client stays fully clothed, removing only outerwear, big jewelry and glasses. (I don't use oil or lotion with this style, so there is no concern with staining.) Areas of focus can include the neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands. It's a convenient antidote to simple cases of back pain, neck stiffness, tense shoulders, aching wrists, mental fogginess, decreased energy and sluggish circulation.

My own specialty is something I call Sparring with Knots. It is especially designed to find and release restrictions, leaving you awake and energized at the conclusion.

American style seated massage evolved from a Japanese technique called anma (related to shiatsu). It has spread from San Francisco, where the first special chair was created in 1986. David Palmer created the original form of this massage as a "kata" addressing over 160 acupressure points in a specific sequence. Since the 1980s, chair massage has become quite popular, and is often seen at trade shows and airports.

My style is a bit different than the more usual type of chair massage that most people do. Though I was taught how to use the massage chair in my basic training, and have studied some approaches by David Palmer and Ralph Stephens using that chair, I prefer the straight backed chair I learned to use when studying Indian Head Massage, and finally sold my kneeling massage chair since I just didn't use it anymore. I find the upright chair more flexible to work with, and more adaptable for bigger or taller bodies, or bodies with arthritic knees.