A myotherapist's booming business offers less pain, more gain, writes Josh Jennings.
Myotherapist Carissa Stewart says the consultations she has with clients revolve around assessing their range of movement in particular areas of the body, using hands-on techniques to alleviate pain and checking clients are correctly doing stretching exercises.
The sessions are physically intensive but mentally stimulating too, Stewart says. "While you're treating, you're feeling and assessing the muscles to work out which ones are tight and which joints are stiff and which ones are moving well. So as you're treating, you're constantly thinking about which muscle you're going to treat next and how a muscle has responded to a particular technique.
"Every client is different and a technique that works on one doesn't necessarily work on another."
Stewart is the director of Body Align Myotherapy. A typical day for her includes treating patients, fielding business inquiries and appointment requests, completing administration tasks and marketing.
The business used to operate exclusively out of Clifton Hill but Stewart opened an additional clinic in Brighton last November, and she says business is exceeding expectations.
"We've continually got new clients every week since the clinic has been opened. I had done research on where other myotherapy clinics were and there aren't many stand-alone myotherapy clinics at all ... and I just wanted to get it out there and give it a go."
Stewart gravitated towards a myotherapy career after an accident in high school caused her to experience lower back pain. This switched her on to contemplating a health career in which she could educate herself about her own body.
She completed a three-year advanced diploma of remedial massage (myotherapy) at RMIT in 2002 and has subsequently completed postgraduate studies in assessment, treatment and preventions of soft-tissue dysfunction, along with studies to become a certified rehabilitation Pilates instructor.
She is registered with the Institute of Registered Myotherapists of Australia (IRMA), which means she's bound by its code of ethics and recognised by private health cover providers. "You have to complete a certain amount of continuing education each year to stay registered with IRMA," she says.
Body Align Myotherapy has been operating since 2007. Stewart spent about five years beforehand working in other myotherapists' clinics.
Myotherapists treat a variety of conditions including headaches, stiff necks, shoulder pain and hand and finger numbness and tingling, and they apply treatment in preventative, corrective and rehabilitative phases of therapy.
Stewart says one of the big satisfactions she gets from the job comes from helping clients become pain-free. "It's great when a chronic migraine sufferer comes in and then after a few treatments and educating them they become pain-free."