By Mike Reilly
BURLINGTON — Fulcrum Massage and Bodywork recently opened in the historic Richardson Building on Church Street, offering a wide range of services. Owner Jessie Owens, a certified massage therapist, practices Swedish, Thai, deep tissue, and prenatal massage, Shiatsu, cupping, myofascial release and kinesiology taping. She is also a student of Bowenwork.
Owens called massage an essential component — or fulcrum — of her own overall well-being. She brings a personal, movement-based perspective to her work and said each massage and bodywork treatment is customized for an individual client’s unique needs.
“Their motivation is very important,” Owens said. “Of course, I can help you and give you suggestions ‘for the road,’ but it all works best when you are a full participant. So, initially, I sit down and ask what you want, what motivates you to come in. I do know I can provide an experience that is calming and relaxing, and allows you to think and feel your body.”
She credits her training with enabling her to offer such a broad range of options.
“I’ve been very lucky in that where I studied, the Wellness Massage Center and Institute in St. Albans, also offers a lot of continuing education and I was able to bulk up my study,” Owens said. That’s in addition to the 500-hour certificate program she completed working with instructor Dawn Mulheron, who Owens noted teaches to national standards.
Beyond relaxation, Owens said massage and bodywork offer important health and wellness benefits. “Massage is not regulated in Vermont, so it’s not covered by insurance — but it should be,” she said. “I look at massage as preventive health care. You don’t only go to the dentist if you have a cavity, and it’s the same with massage.”
Owens said massage and body work can help relieve chronic muscle pain and tension, improve circulation, increase joint mobility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress, promote healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture and reduce blood pressure. She said treatments are also known to improve sleep and concentration, reduce anxiety and create an overall sense of well-being.
While some people come to Fulcrum for treatment of specific injuries, Owens said, “My target market is anyone who is totally stressed out. The way I think about my work is that I’m not out to ‘fix’ people. Your body knows what to do but it needs help. You don’t get a massage to fix something, but I can help direct your body toward healing.”
Stress can be emotional or physical, and can include the pain caused by everything from repetitive motion from work or other physical activity to poor postural habits. Whatever brings clients to Fulcrum, Owens said, “Most often, it’s caused by stress. The best thing I can do is get them on my table for an hour and I help them relax. My goal is to help calm the nerves.”
Touch can awaken the body’s healing capacity, Owens said. “It brings people back into their bodies and creates or boosts their sense of awareness.” Techniques include Bowenwork and kinesiology taping.
Bowenwork is an energy-based modality that activates the body’s ability to heal itself. Established by Australian bodyworker Tom Bowen, Owens said, “Bowenwork uses subtle moves specific points on the body — offers a suggestion to the body — then lets the body respond.”
Kinesiology taping employs a stretchy adhesive — Fulcrum uses RockTape — to treat chronic pain and, in some cases, improve muscle performance. The tape can address chronic neck and shoulder pain by providing what Owens called a “postural reminder” that also gives tissue constant feedback, and bringing extra blood flow to injured areas. It’s used to treat inflammation and bruises and for injuries from tennis elbow to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Popular with athletes, Owens said, “(kinesiology taping) can take the edge off pain. Athletes can tape along line of movement and action and get sensational feedback. There’s a whole school of thought around taping for enhanced performance, giving that feedback to the body.”
For employers, Owens thinks massage is an excellent choice for employee benefit programs. Fulcrum offers packages, including chair or table massages, for corporate events, parties and conferences.
“I would love to work with more businesses in that way, and it’s on my radar to expand that,” Owens said.
Owens followed a unique path to her work. A graduate of Smith College where she majored in dance, Owens said, “I found my way to body work, and massage was through dance and movement. I was pretty focused on dance. I majored in dance in my 30s and I was alone and I was panicking a bit, wondering what I wanted to do and what I wanted my life to look like every day.”
After considering dance therapy and psychology, Owens said, “I made a left turn into body work. As I studied dance, motion, and fascia, I came to an understanding that it’s all connected; everything we do, every motivation we have, is facilitated by movement.”
Owens still pursues dance and movement at a high level. Last year she launched Ergo Movement, a collaborative performance project. “It’s been a dream of mine to be part of a collective of artists that wants to create work and support, share and perform one another’s work,” she said.
Through Fulcrum, Owens is finding fulfillment as both a healer and learner. “I love my job,” she said. “To learn the ins and outs of how we work — how I work — fascinates me. And the biggest takeaway is that an intentional touch can go so far, back to what we need as humans. And we neither survive or thrive without it.”
Fulcrum Massage and Bodywork is in the Richardson Building at 2 Church St., Suite 4C, in Burlington. Hours are roughly 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, with booking available online. Reach at 802-363-5544 or www.fulcrumvt.com.