Joan Cole Massage

State of the Art Bodywork at Studio Helix

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My Approach

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Why Clients Choose Massage and Bodywork

  1. Because they are in pain
  2. To support health and prevent problems
  3. To recover from athletic training

Helping People Who Are In Pain

The first decade of my practice was focused mainly on helping people find solutions to soft tissue pain problems. I loved having the opportunity to continue to utilize the skills in debugging I built up during the years when I was writing code. In more recent years, I have moved away from a "fixing" mentality to seeing pain in a more expansive bio-psycho-social context, but there are still plenty of purely mechanical "problems" that are well-aided by focused direct bodywork techniques.

Myofascial Release Blends for Pain Debugging

You might be generally pain-free and then suddenly find yourself in pain - whether an injury or simply waking up with a crick in the neck. I developed and taught in my Centered Awareness class a Sparring with Knots Seated Massage for dealing with issues like that crick in the neck.
Being a woman of a certain age, I not only have training in dealing with injuries, I have life experience and over a decade working in a rehab oriented fitness studio. I have been developing my Targeted Knotwork for Musculoskeletal Pain Debugging style since the earliest years of my practice.

Skin and Joint Movement and Myofascial Release Blends for Pain Debugging
  • Foot to Knee Muscle and Joint Mobility Work (Table or Housecall on Client's Recliner)
  • Hand to Neck and Shoulder Muscle and Joint Mobility Work (Chair and Table or Floor Mat)

It goes beyond frustrating when pain is chronic, and in such cases it's rarely a strictly mechanical problem. Pain has made exercise intolerable, setting off debilitating pain flares days later. I understand that sometimes pain-FREE isn't the highest priority because it simply isn't a realistic possibility, so focusing on some relief and quality of life can be a more helpful goal of the massage session. There is a lot massage can do to support someone who is suffering from chronic or systemic pain, but it is often most helpful when the focus is on finding a feeling of safety in movement and rest, or to say it more technically, downregulating the nervous system. Sufferers of chronic pain often have nervous systems that are already in high alert, so aggressive approaches tend to backfire. Instead, I offer a Gentle Pain Calming style of massage.

Gentle Pain Calming

Health Preservation and Life Nourishment

I have had a lifelong interest and study of the mind-body-spirit practices of many cultures, and have always had a segment of my clientele that I served with that focus.

Nourishing Life for Stress Resilience

I am a big believer in the impact on well-being provided by stress resilience practices.

Indian head massage is a seated massage that is ideal for seekers of mental tranquility. Nothing is better if you are having trouble turning off the brain for a while. People who suffer from headaches, eye strain, TMJ and neck pain often find it helpful in coping with those conditions. Over the years, I have offered traditional seated style in 15 or 45 minute sessions, as well as simply concluding a table session with the last 10 minutes using Indian Head Massage techniques.

Indian Head Massage

Balance and Serenity is a 60 minute session on the table which focuses on the head, hands and feet. Reclining on your back on the massage table, receive attention to the areas of your body with the greatest nervous system innervation. A full table session devoted to the areas that will maximize relaxation.

Nurturing practices of structured gentle movement, whether active (such as Taiji and Yoga) or passive (such as relaxation or pain-free mobilization oriented massage and bodywork) are an important component of aging gracefully.

From the beginning of my practice, I have had the pleasure of working with retirees and active seniors, not just people adamantly doing everything they can with bodywork and medical exercise to avoid joint replacement surgery, but healthy people simply interested in remaining healthy - active people maintaining huge gardens, playing with their grandchildren, traveling the world, even continuing to pursue research and publications in their field. Aging is not a disease, it is a natural part of the human life cycle.

But as we all know, getting older is not for sissies. Arthritis and other kinds of chronic pain that sometimes accompanies aging can be eased by Gentle Pain Calming.

Experienced in Geriatric Massage

I have added more and more nurturing practices to my own life as I have aged into middle age. I have come think that these practices are just as crucial for those of us in our forties and fifties, as recovery times from injuries we laughed at in our twenties seem to stretch longer. It is my belief that relaxation practices - not just massage, but also active forms of gentle movement, meditation and breathing - help us to deal with the physical, mental and emotional demands of meeting our responsbililities in the workplace, raising children and helping our parents with greater balance and tranquility.

Not only do the syndromes blamed on stress that modern Western medicine has the greatest difficulty treating satisfactorily often arise during these years, but with the diminished physicality of desk jobs and restricted work patterns of other workplaces, aches set in, and joints start feeling less mobile. Things simply take more maintenance or they will start to fail.


Fijian Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage is a great style for those who want an all-over deep pressure experience. Done on a floor mat, kinks can be very quickly untangled, and the body challenged by physical training given the broad deep pressure it craves. A combination of hands and feet are used in this massage.

The layperson classes I developed for CU DIY Wellness include a taste of Yoga, Qigong and Taiji. These have been taught in conjunction with yoga workshops and at Gen Con. I have also offered a continuing education class for Massage Therapists called Centered Awareness for Bodyworkers that gives a guided tour of Evidence Based Qigong[TM] and teaches a Taiji inspired seated massage form. The Champaign-Urbana area is blessed with some great Yoga centers as well as the Champaign Urbana Taiji Qigong taught by Scott Grubisich.

If you would like more information about what many styles of massage are like, check out my personal pinboard of videos: All About Massage and Bodywork

Follow Joan's board All About Massage and Bodywork on Pinterest.

My Bodywork Style

While I have studied a number of approaches (modalities) to bodywork, every session incorporates a blend of modalities, chosen in discussion between us of what you prefer and have enjoyed in the past, and what, in my experience, has the best technical features, based on how different styles work physiologically. I do not believe that there is one correct style for everyone, and I am very open to your experience of what works best for you.

As none of the styles I offer are relaxation-oriented Swedish, I don't rely on the long gliding effleurage strokes that require skin contact and ample lubrication. As a result, if you wear non-binding clothing made from reasonably thin fabric (avoid blue jeans, polarfleece or thick sweaters, tight waistbands or belts, or very structured styles), I am perfectly capable of working through clothing. Many clients do prefer this. If you prefer to disrobe and be draped with sheets, normal professional massage standards of draping will apply.

You can learn about my training and education here.