Deborah Riley demonstrates how to do a hand, arm, and finger pull combination. Done correctly, Riley says, this can greatly reduce symptoms of tendinitis, a condition that Cindy Moon (on the massage table) suffers from.
What could be more relaxing than a massage?
Perhaps a massage by your beloved — if he or she has a little experience. One way to get that experience is through a couples massage class.
Luckily for local brides and grooms, long-married couples, or any two people who wish to help each other relax, there is a way to attain that loving touch.
Deborah Riley, a Walla Walla licensed massage therapist, is offering a couples massage class at the Cameo Heights Mansion.
“It’s been so sweet,” Riley says. “A couple learning to massage their partner without tiring helps them become closer. You can always tell a couple that is working on trusting each other, and it’s wonderful to be able to help them.”
In her classes, Riley says, students are learning what muscle feels like, and what a point of tension feels like.
Riley performs a massage technique called Mysofascial Release, which she describes as “sinking your hands into the tissue,” not with a superficial stroke, but a calm and patient laying on of hands.
Clients often ask Riley about the difference between massage (Swedish or deep-tissue, and other forms of massage) and Mysofascial Release.
“The difference is that the therapist is allowing the body to gently release all of the tension it holds, rather than pushing or pulling on the muscles to force the relaxation,” she says.
Other forms of massage can be helpful and fun, she says, but for many massage clients with injuries and overall tension, Mysofascial Release is more beneficial.
“There are restrictions that go around the nerves, around the muscles and all the tissues of the body. By waiting for the body to release on its own, you’re working at the cellular level. The client has to trust the therapist and let go.”
Riley emphasizes teaching the couples how to massage their partner for lengthy periods of time without getting tired, and using parts of their bodies (elbows, for instance) instead of taking the movement into their hands, arms or backs.
“That was something I really appreciated,” says Craig Maydole of West Richland.
He and his wife, Lenore, were staying at Cameo Heights Mansion, just outside Walla Walla, for their 13-year wedding anniversary. They signed up for the class and discovered they really enjoyed giving each other massages, especially once they had learned how to do a sustained massage without strain.
“For the person giving the massage, Deborah showed us how to maintain good body mechanics and not to use just the fingers and hands to provide all the force,” he says. “It answers the question about how a masseuse manages to do this work without being dead tired.”
The lovely thing about it, Maydole says, was the way it’s “you and your wife working with each other, watching each other, learning together.”
Riley describes the class as a two-hour session, with one person massaging the other under Riley’s direction, with hands-on assistance. The Maypoles were joined by Cindy and Trevor Moon, from Milton-Freewater. Both couples remain completely clothed, and the atmosphere is totally “G” rated.
“It was great; she (Riley) really knows her stuff,” says Cindy Moon. “We were there specifically for the class.”
Moon says Riley helped them focus on their individual injuries.
“My husband is a triathlete and has really sore legs. I have tendinitis in my hand and a bad knee, so she showed Trevor how to do things for my knee and my hand, and me how to work on his legs.”
In the past, Riley says, she has seen couples who are having issues with each other, and she tries to give them more time.
“With one partner massaging the other, each is slowly learning to trust the other. Communication is key, where, say, the husband says, ‘Yes, that feels better,’ and the wife is tuning in to his reaction. It’s a really neat tool for relationships.
“For most people, it’s profound,” she says. “Most people want to enhance their relationship and be able to calm their partner down, help them soothe away pain and worry.”
In each class, Riley breaks down learning how to work on different areas, for example, the back or the legs, the neck or the feet. She makes sure she attends to each person doing the massage, helping them keep their shoulders relaxed.
In the future, Riley plans on holding bigger classes, possibly at Revolver Yoga Studio in downtown Walla Walla, where she’ll work with an assistant.
“We pick a person from the class and do a demonstration on the techniques, show them what to watch for — like avoiding the spine and the kidneys — then they go back to their tables. We’ll walk through the room answering questions and helping each couple.”
Riley says she provides massage, classes and sessions for weddings and other events.
“To see people extending themselves to being touched, especially when something has happened in their relationship — for some reason they’ve grown apart — and a door opens, it can be very beautiful.”
Riley demonstrates a gentle leg pull on Cindy Moon for her husband Trevor. This technique releases the fascia in the hips and thighs.
Riley shows Moon ways to massage the feet and toes.
Learning how to let the tissues relax on their own, rather than forcing them to release, is the key to this form of massage, Riley says.