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Wisconsin School of Massage Therapy

January 5, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Soup's On!

​A cold, gray day here in Wisconsin calls for a big pot of soup! Believe it or not soup does not have to come out of a can! If you make it yourself you won’t believe how easy, cheap, and healthy it can be. I bet you want to be thinner and healthier this year, right? Because of its high water content and high nutrient content, soup is a perfect weight-loss and health food! Let’s get started.

First, get a pot heating on medium with some olive oil or butter in it. While that’s going chop up 1 or 2 onions. Do you get the idea that these are very loose instructions? That’s because you really can’t do it wrong! Throw the onions into the pot and swirl them around with a spoon. Go ahead and swirl them every little while and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan as they develop.

Then while that’s going, gather some carrots and potatoes. If you were smart and bought organic all you have to do is chop off the ends of the carrots and dig out any eyes on the potatoes. A quick scrub with a veggie brush under running cool water and we’re ready to chop up. If you didn’t buy organic, peel everything to remove as much chemical residue as possible. Also peel any potatoes that have gone a little green under the skin as this is not something you want to eat. Keep potatoes in a dark, cool place (not the refrigerator) like the basement and they won’t turn green. If they get light they start producing chemicals you don’t want to eat and the green is an indication this has happened. It’s only skin-deep, though, so just peel and you are good to go. Throw the chopped up potatoes and carrots into the pot. Keep stirring it up as you go.

Next chop up a pound or so of smoked pork butt (I love the product made at House of Homemade Sausage on Mequon Road in Germantown,) or a little bacon, or ham you might have. Something smoky is nice. Throw that in the pot and stir it up.

Then get out a big bag of dried split peas (green or yellow is fine.) Throw that in a colander and just push it all around a little to look for anything like small stones, hunks of dirt, or peas that just don’t look as good as the others. Take any of those things out and add to your compost pile. Rinse the peas under cold water, drain and dump into your soup pot.  

Now you can add plain water to fill the pot, or boiling water you have in a tea kettle which makes it faster cooking, or some leftover broth you might have. Cover and simmer (just barely bubbling) on low for about 45 minutes. Take out a spoonful, wait for it to cool a bit, and taste. If the veggies and peas are soft you are done. If not let it go a bit longer and test again.  

In winter, here, it is so convenient to make this in a giant pot because cooling and storing the finished soup is a breeze. All you have to do is set it in the garage! I use really nice enamel coated cast-iron pots and I don’t want the enamel to get shocked by the cold concrete floor out there. So I just have a little block of wood always sitting on the floor which is where my hot pots go. This keeps the ice cold concrete a little bit off the pot. In a few hours the whole thing will be very cold and you will find that split peas continue to absorb liquid and thicken as they cool. This is great because the whole soup becomes a concentrate. From here you can freeze smaller portions which is just wonderful on a cold night getting home late and you don’t feel like cooking. Pull out and warm up; in a few minutes you have a wonderful home-cooked meal without any work at all! But because it gets very thick and concentrated you usually want to add some water when reheating, and as usual it doesn’t matter how much. That is up to you and how thick you want your soup.

Seasoning for me is usually some black pepper and thyme. I always add thyme to every soup I make. It always tastes good and it has great immune-boosting and viral-killing properties. Salt is iffy with this soup because the pork product probably has a lot in it. It is easy to overdo the salt if you’re not careful. So, I add salt, if needed, right at the point of eating the soup to make sure I get just the right amount without too much.

There, get cookin'!

Copyright © 2018 Wisconsin School of Massage Therapy. All rights reserved. 
Wisconsin School of Massage Therapy
N112 W15237 Mequon Road Suite 400
Germantown, WI  53022

Wah-lah!  Notice square of parmesan cheese rind right in the middle.  Another nice thing to throw into any soup for flavoring!  
January 11, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Make Yogurt!

​Here is an update on my yogurt making and a primer for those of you who have been asking for the basic directions again. I have been a yogurt maker since I was a kid, having obtained my first Salton appliance not long after first tasting Dannon yogurt. It was the only kind of yogurt in the store and it came in a wax paper cup that didn’t have a false bottom. The yogurt actually went all the way to the bottom of the cup! I know, I know, I’m ancient, and so is the art of yogurt making!

I have evolved to a persnickety yogurt maker who grows healthy and luscious yogurt. Now I even make Greek-style which is extra thick. My favorite way to eat it lately is with a chopped up orange in it, a little homemade vanilla, and some stevia. It reminds me of a dreamsicle. Do they still make those?!

Anyway, here are the basic instructions:

1. Gather a pot (glass is really nice, but stainless steel will work too, an instant-read thermometer, a heating pad that will stay on for 8 hours or scope out some other place where you can keep the temperature about 110°), a small container of yogurt starter with live and active yogurt cultures (I like Stonyfield Farm the best.)

2. Heat milk over low/medium to 180°. Check often with an instant-read thermometer. If it goes over this it’s ok, but 180° is best.

3. Remove from burner, open lid and let cool to 110°. If you are in a hurry, put the pot in the sink and fill up with cold water. Keep checking with the thermometer. 110° is best, and it will work ok if it gets a little cooler, BUT you cannot have it any hotter than 110°. If hotter than 110° you will kill the starter when you put it in and no yogurt will grow.

4. Put the yogurt starter in the pot and stir well to dissolve the yogurt into the milk. Cover and place the whole thing on the heating pad for 8 hours. I keep mine on Low and cover it with a thick towel. You might have to use yours on Medium. It depends on the temperature of your house and how well the pad works. You can put the thermometer between the pad and the pot to get a rough idea how hot it is.

5. After 8 hours put into the refrigerator. After it is completely cool it will be yummy yogurt.

6. You can add any sweetener and/or fruit you like along with things like vanilla to jazz it up.  

7. To make Greek-style extra-thick yogurt: Get muslin from the fabric store and rinse it with hot water. Line a colander with the muslin and put over a bowl. Cover and put into the refrigerator. How long? Well, that depends on how thick you want it. The longer you drain the whey out, the thicker it gets. If you forget it and it gets too thick you can just pour some of the whey back in and stir to get the consistency you want.

In my picture you can see the yogurt pot on the right, the straining set up on the left and the little jar in front where I take out the starter for the next batch. Don’t forget to save some if you plan to make it again. The starter lasts for about 10 days before it dies, so if you make it by about the 10th day over and over again you will not have to get new starter.

Why yogurt, you might ask?  Well, check out this link to learn about the health benefits of yogurt.  I hope you enjoy yogurt making!

January 23, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Long-Term Weight Loss

​It’s January and many people are working on the extra pounds they put on during the holidays. I know several people who started big weight loss efforts before the holidays as well. Getting weight under control is a big step to achieving long-term health.  

I have struggled with my weight for my entire adult life. 3 years ago I wrote here about my success with losing 35 pounds through About 1 year ago I wrote about maintaining with the techniques outlined in the book, “I Can Make You Thin.” Right now I’m happy to say I have maintained 25 of those pounds off for the entire time. My goal now is to tighten it up and keep the range within a 5 pound variable. I am finding it is true that maintaining weight loss is much more difficult than achieving it in the first place.

I have found encouragement, though, in an article on Pubmed which says that the success rate for long term weight loss is actually better than usually reported, 20%. That still sounds pretty low to me. The article goes on to outline the strategies that work for those who are successful keeping their weight in check. Want to know what they are? Here you go:

High levels of physical activity – 1 hour per day (walking the dog counts!)
Low calorie, low fat diet (for me that’s high quality/small amounts)
Eat breakfast (the most important reason to get out of bed!)
Self-monitor weight (everyday on the scale for me)
Eating consistently across weekdays and weekends (keep it in check every day)

The best news in the article is that the longer you keep the weight in control, the easier it gets and the more successful you stay. I think it’s because these things become ways of life, habits that become ingrained in each day. One of my slim and trim clients inspired me recently by saying, “I’ve always had to work to maintain my weight.” I was surprised because I mistakenly think that people who are thin for a long time must not have to pay any attention to it, but they often do. It’s a part of life and it’s important to keep tabs on it for everyone.

February 6, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Do You Teach Deep Tissue Massage?

Today I want to talk about “Deep Tissue” massage. Sometimes potential clients, potential students, and employers of our graduates will ask if we teach or do this at WSMT. Let’s start with the term “Deep Tissue” which, according to several sources I checked is supposed to mean working down to the deepest layers of muscle in the body.  

Robert Byrnes in his Youtube videos states, “In deep tissue work there is nothing too deep, only too fast.”  Really? I cannot push into a person’s body too deeply?  He indicates warming up the muscles with gentle work to begin is a must. Then I see videos and articles of people stating that this type of massage work uses the elbows and forearms as well as the hands to achieve deep work.  What is special about using forearms and elbows in addition to hands?  Cathy Wong at says, “Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.”  I didn’t know there was a prescribed speed and pressure for classic massage therapy.  Many references warn that this treatment is quite painful because, “When your muscles are severely knotted, this therapeutic treatment is designed to break it up.” (  Stephanie Blake at says that deep tissue work, “forces muscles to relax and it should be quite relaxing even though it can be quite painful.”  Yeah, that sounds really relaxing! I can’t wait to pay a lot of money for that!

With all that being said would somebody please explain to me what makes this something different from relaxation massage? Several sources made vague references to this being neuromuscular therapy or myofascial work, which are truly different than relaxation massage. I could find no videos of deep tissue massage, however, that was actually showing these two modalities. And if you’re doing these two modalities why do you need another term like deep tissue massage anyway? Also, NMT and myofascial work are often applied very superficially depending on the minute-by-minute goals of the session so to call them deep tissue is definitely a misnomer.

Warming tissue with broader strokes to start, using a variety of body tools from hands to elbows, and varying the pressure and speed according to what the tissue is doing and how the client is reacting is all relaxation massage and YES, we teach it well! Can every massage therapist achieve pressure from very light to very heavy and every gradation in between? No. Some will never be able to work as deeply as others due to strength, endurance, muscle mass, and adherence to the principles of body mechanics. This is great for many clients who don’t want to be beat up by a massage therapist. Leaving clients bruised and limping for several days after a treatment because we tried to “force” muscles to our will should not happen. If this is what clients are asking for we need to educate them about what  healthy massage is because these symptoms indicate tissue damage. But what most clients interested in deep tissue massage are really asking for is help with a pain condition or for a relaxation massage that feels engaged and not just what one of my clients calls fluffy vacation "rubdown" massage.

If I am a deep tissue massage therapist does this mean every client gets heavy pressure right down to their bones albeit slowly and with warming up of superficial layers?! I think it does. I have received the very unhappy clients who have found their way to me from these therapists. This is because there is no one pressure or purpose that is appropriate for all clients. Our practice should be based on client intake (find out why they came) and our knowledge and skill (how can I use what I know and can do to help this client achieve the goals for the session?)  

This means each massage session should be individually constructed for each client each day. I might be doing heavier pressure today because everything feels good and my client just wants to relax and heavier pressure feels good. I might be using fairly light pressure next week with the same client because she went snowboarding and she is pretty sore almost everywhere. I might be using medium pressure the next week with extra, more specific therapeutic work on the shoulder and neck muscles because my client painted her ceiling a few days ago. This is quality massage work. It is dynamic and responsive. Clients feel better – that’s the mission!

 Just an aside here:
If you watch massage instruction videos on the web you will see a wide variety of horrible body mechanics styles.  If you do any massage work using such injurious and sloppy execution you will probably not be doing it for very long.  At WSMT we are passionate about teaching and coaching correct body mechanics for massage.  We don't just tell you about it, we guide you, remind you and coax you until moving correctly is second nature!  You will know how to do this work effectively and safely for your client AND for you!
February 13, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Starting Massage School

Yesterday the new day class started. It got me thinking about what it is like to start massage school. It is exciting! Usually students have been thinking about it and anticipating it for a little while. When the first day finally arrives it’s nice to get the ball rolling.

The first few hours of the new class is all about the nuts and bolts of how the classes will work. The instructor will take you through your bag of books and explain when and how each will be used. This is good news because you won’t have to lug that big bag every day! There is also discussion about insurance, food and drink in class, when to go to the bathroom, what to do with cell phones, how lunch will work. Then there is some time to learn how to safely set up and take down a massage table. So there is still some preparation that goes on in the beginning.

But then the model shows up and the instructor gives the first demonstration of back massage techniques. You get to watch, take notes, ask questions, and then try it out! Yes, your first day you will begin to actually do massage work. And you will be surprised at how easy the instructor makes it look. You must keep in mind that the instructor is a masterful massage therapist who has been doing this for many years. This is a new way to move through space. Your muscles are surprised by the new movement and your brain is having a little difficulty coordinating hands with the rest of the body. That’s because this is whole body work, not just your hands. That’s why your hands will be able to do this because you are learning to do this correctly with body mechanics that work with gravity, not against it. The instructor is a gentle coach who helps you when you forget.

It’s not easy but within the first trial you can see how it works, and you begin to get the hang of it! That first night back at home you have something to offer your family, a practice back massage.  

Our students tell us consistently how happy they are from the start. They get to jump right in and learn massage work from the beginning and it’s exciting!

Just an aside here:

If you are worried about the job market, don't!  I just met the owner of 2 Massage Envy locations and he tells me that although he employs 60 massage therapists right now he is looking to hire 10 more because the demand is so great.  I hear this from massage employers across the area.  The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states, "Employment of massage therapists is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists."  
February 20, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
The Middle of the Program

​My last message described the first day of massage school. I got to thinking that it might be nice for potential students to get a glimpse of the middle of the program in this message. Then next week I’ll describe the latter parts of the program. I hope it helps to get a feel for where you are going!

In the middle of the program you have finished the Anatomy & Physiology course which lasted 17 weeks. It’s a lot of material to absorb, but really interesting background and taught by Lisa Krause, a teacher who is easy to love for her careful explanations and patience in answering questions. Passing that final exam was a major accomplishment. Now you are almost through the Pathology course where you have been introduced to all those body systems you learned and how they can have problems. It is fascinating to learn how standard medicine addresses the various medical conditions. You are beginning to feel prepared for the clients you will see and all the possible medical conditions they might present to you.

In addition to these science courses you have finished learning the sequence of massage techniques for relaxation massage. Your family and friends enjoy your practice at home and they say they can really tell the difference from when you first started. In your Theory & Practice class you have been learning palpation skills; how to find landmarks on the bones where muscles attach and to follow the muscles from end to end discovering the direction of their fibers. You had no idea how complicated the human body was before starting this adventure!

You have just begun working with clients in the student clinic. It was a bit unnerving the first day, but your instructor assured you it is normal to feel nervous and it would get more comfortable. She was right because now you just look forward to clinic days. It is exciting to have appointments with real clients who say they enjoyed and benefitted from your work.

There are always things to anticipate in massage school. Soon you will learn chair massage and hot stone therapy. Stretching and therapeutics are later on and it will be so great to have more techniques to help people in pain. You are beginning to imagine how this program will get completed and you will attain state licensure in Massage Therapy. How exciting!

February 28, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
The End of the Program

Just an aside here:

If you are worried about the job market, don't!  

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states, "Employment of massage therapists is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Continued growth in the demand for massage services will lead to new openings for massage therapists."  
The Department of Veterans Affairs has classified massage therapy as a "high-demand occupation" and reclassified it as a program which qualifies under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program
The last two messages addressed what massage school is like in the beginning and middle of the program. This message will attempt to complete the picture with a glimpse of the program near the end.  

At this time you will have completed all of basic relaxation massage and all the palpation exercises through which you have learned the muscles and bones. You are able to find muscles and their attachments now and with this great foundation you are getting how this knowledge is going to help you when you are working with clients in pain. The therapeutic techniques you are learning are really exciting to begin using because now you have more precise knowledge and skill to offer clients.

You have completed relaxation clinic where you worked with many different clients and you honed your skill at customizing a massage session for an individual. Now you are working with clients looking for help with pain. You are applying everything you know in the therapeutic learning lab.

You have learned about Business practice, both from the perspective of a person looking for a job as an MT and also from the perspective of a business owner. You are considering your options. Maybe you’ll start working for someone else to get a lot of experience both with massage work and in running a massage business. Then maybe you’ll realize your dream of opening your own business.

You have learned about the state laws and you are about to take the exam, one of the steps to graduate and become state licensed. Before long you will have your graduation certificate in hand and you will begin the next phase of your career!

March 8, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Are You Smart Enough for Massage School?

Sometimes potential students come to me with trepidation about the academic demands of massage school. Do you wonder if, even with time to study, you will be able to do it? Have you heard that there are tests and performance assessments to pass? Maybe you’ve even had terrible school experiences in the past with mean teachers and now you have a lot of anxiety about possibly going down that road again.

Well, calm yourself! Take a breath, have a cup of tea and lend an ear. We have encountered every kind of student imaginable and we are here to help you succeed! Being a small school gives us the flexibility to focus on each student’s needs and to give you the support you need. Our instructors are kind and thoughtful. They consider themselves successful when you are!

We find that “smart” is an interesting term. Smart is usually thought of as being naturally endowed with intelligence which makes life easier. But the truth is people who appear to be smart actually just have a few habits in place which really do make life easier. Anyone can adopt these habits and get smart! Here they are:

1. Be present and on time for every class (almost always.)

2. Come ready to learn – well fed, rested, focused on class (not the concerns of the day.)

3. Spend regularly scheduled time on study.

4. Study diligently with no distractions – put the phone away.

5. Keep a positive attitude. Anything worthwhile requires effort. With the efforts come the rewards.

That’s it. If you will do these things you will be successful in massage school. Come, join in the fun!

March 16, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey

As part of our professional massage therapist training program we bring in allied professionals to guest speak about their professions and how they might help a client we send to them. On our staff is Robin Wenninger who is a clinical aromatherapist in addition to an MT and instructor at the school. MTs can refer clients to her for customized aromatherapy treatment. I do the basic introduction to this world for our classes where they get to learn about safety, quality, storage and the like. During the class we sample at least 10 different essential oils. This gives students an understanding they can safely use in preparing their lubricants to enhance massage sessions for a variety of clients’ needs.

It is always a fun class and students are also excited to learn how essential oils can benefit them personally for things like house cleaning, laundry, and personal care. Here is our newest class sampling some of the oils dripped on paper slips.

March 23, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Kinematics with Douglas Nelson 
and Jan Kiener

Recently our two hands-on instructors, Alesia Streff and Robin Wenninger, and myself experienced a class on Precision Kinematics with the developers, Douglas Nelson and Jan Kiener.  

From the PNMT website, “Precision Kinematics is a bodywork approach utilizing passive movements for both assessment and treatment of the musculoskeletal system.”

This movement can be integrated into focused therapeutic intervention work or general relaxation massage because it feels good and it seems to have a relaxing effect on the nervous system. There is a playfulness to these movements, just testing the waters without pushing the body to move in any uncomfortable way. It provides a nice additional tool for the therapist to see how the body will move, helping to determine if and where more focused massage work is needed. Receiving kinematics was soothing and enjoyable. All of us have already played with incorporating these movements into our massage work. It’s always great to have additional tools in the massage toolbox!

We are pretty excited about a new concept for us in continuing education. We are starting a therapeutic massage study group. This little 90-minute, monthly meeting will give participants a chance to practice orthopedic tests and therapeutic work that is specific to the outcomes.

For several years now we have been taking excellent continuing education classes which introduce us to these great techniques. Then we come back to our practice, and because we don’t only do therapeutic work, and some of us don’t even see many new clients, we get little opportunity to practice. We don’t want to be therapists who aren’t proficient in these concepts where we just throw up our hands and say, “Oh heck, I’ll just do relaxation!”

We’ve bought into the idea that we can be really effective in narrowing down the client’s pain issue and using time efficiently to either address the issue and begin its correction, or refer out for medical treatment because we know massage isn’t going to solve the problem. Now we want to get the tests really clear in our minds: which test(s), when, how to, and what do the results mean?

I envision this group even bringing in clients from which the group can learn. Doesn’t this sound like fun? If you are a Wisconsin M.T. looking for continuing education which will really develop your skills, making you more effective and more valuable, consider coming and giving our study group a try. You can come for 1 session, intermittently, or you can sign up for a set of 6 at a discount. I hope to see you at our inaugural meeting April 30th. See our CE page for more information!
March 29, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Our New Study Group

April 8, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Is Massage Training a Good Investment?

Hi Mary,
I thought I would share with you what a great investment my WSMT (training) has been. In adding up all of my sessions so far for the year, I calculated that with only working very part-time from home since April (when I got my license), I've already earned back 1/2 of my tuition and was able to make a sizable donation to a charity through a fund-raiser I ran this year : ) 
Debra (December)

Above is a communication I received from a graduate regarding the return on her education investment in massage therapy. I hear this a lot from our graduates, but not always from graduates of other types of certification programs.  

The job outlook and pay for massage therapists is bright and you can check the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to verify this statement. In addition, I can tell you that we are inundated with requests from employers locally who are eager to hire our newest graduates.  

It is worth doing some research at the Bureau of Labor Stats as well as at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services which lists licensing requirements for all professions. Some professions will pay you back faster for your investment of money, but a greater amount of time is needed (i.e. a 4-year or even 6-year degree.) Some professions can be accomplished cheaply and quickly but don’t pay very much. Some professions offer little chance to work part-time if you would like to use your degree to earn extra money while working another job or raising a family.

Massage therapy has a lot to offer. For a modest $8200 educational investment and about a year’s studies with schedules that allow you to keep a full-time job, you can be licensed and making $25-35 per hour including tips. This has potential to pay you back your tuition money fairly quickly. And employers are so hungry for you they are happy with full-time or part-time employees.  

Keep in mind there are a lot of variables, your stamina, your availability, the venue you work in, etc. But that pay quote above is not uncommon for us to hear people are earning. We have even had many students who obtained massage training just to have the job as a side-line to their full-time profession because it is so flexible and lucrative.  

If you are choosing a profession to invest your time, your money, and your life’s energy I advise you to do some research into the job market for that profession and how fast you can be expected to have the tuition investment paid. Massage therapy is an excellent choice in this regard!

April 13, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Welcome Spring With a Healthy Fruit Smoothie!

Spring is a great time to get your nutrition on solid ground.  Why not feed your cells with excellent nutrients, take off a few pounds, and get active to boot?  

Making fruit smoothies is a great start.  It's easy and you can sneak a lot vegetables in there too.  Your whole family can benefit with a quick whirr of the blender!

Peel some bananas, slice small, place in a heavy bag in the freezer.  Get some frozen kale, spinach, berries, pineapple, etc. from the store.  Put a combination of these into the blender, add a sweetener like stevia, honey, or maple syrup and some water, milk or almond milk.  Give it a whirr and in a few minutes you will have a nutritious and luscious meal.  Your body will thank you!

For more information on smoothies,stainless steel straws, and superfoods see

April 20, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Improving Your Skills

We just offered Fascial Yielding: Upper Body Techniques this past week. We tried it on a Tuesday and Thursday instead of the usual weekend marathon schedule. I have long suspected that having time to assimilate and practice new material before getting more in a second day would be better for learning and I was right. Participants liked having even the one day in between the classes.

A class like this offers benefits beyond the expected knowledge and skill advancement. Things like this that came out of the time together:

A refining of skills to make them more effective for both client and therapist. We revisited skin rolling and found that the correct way to do it is much easier on the thumbs of the therapist.  

Learning the correct pace of myofascial work completely changed the effectiveness.

Making peace with not doing everything in one session. Listening to the clients’ requests and really meeting their goals, not inflicting ours.

Getting really excited about our work again. Observing big positive changes in our clients with just one treatment using some new skills.

We have planned the Fascial Yielding: Lower Body Techniques class for June. See our Continuing Education page and join us! Also consider attending one of our Therapeutic Study Group sessions which will give us ongoing small doses of review and practice of therapeutic assessment and techniques. One of the great things about massage work is that you never need to become bored. There is always so much to learn. Massage school is just the beginning!

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

May 1, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Palpation Exercises

A big part of our curriculum is the muscle and bone specific anatomy and palpation exercises. When students first enter our program they think they can feel things with their hands. After going through our palpation work they discover that their brains can, indeed, grow new neurons!  

When they first begin the fingertips can’t really feel very much below the skins surface. By the end of several months of intense work, the brain has adapted to the new demands for more sensitive fingertips and voilà, they can feel things when they look for them! Suddenly bony prominences, muscle fiber direction, muscle contraction and constricted tissue all comes to life under their hands.

It is a wonderful process, and so great for us to watch happen for each student who travels the path!

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

May 8, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Graduation Day

We just had another graduation day this past Saturday and it is always bittersweet for us.  We are so happy that our graduates' dreams of working in this field are coming true.  We look forward to hearing about their successes and to the new students who will take their places in the next class.  We are also always sad to see them go because they always bring something unique to us.  Each individual has a contribution to make to our organization and we value each one.

The graduates tell us they feel the same way.  They have been treated very well at WSMT and they feel ambivalent about going, but this whole new world beckons.  This sentiment warms out hearts because we work very hard to make each student successful.  

We always say, "If you want to do this, we will find ways to help you accomplish your goals."  We can't do it for them, but we can stand right along side and accommodate individual needs.  This is one of our most important strengths as a small school which specializes in massage therapy training only.  We care about each and every individual.  

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

May 20, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Therapeutic Study Group

We have had 2 sessions of the Therapeutic Study Group with more planned. All massage therapists are welcome, whether you are from WSMT or elsewhere. We have started with the shoulder and measuring range of motion with a goniometer. We’ve also reviewed some side topics that participants brought to the table namely, working side-lying and how to retain clients.  

Participants are finding the short (90 min.) time and flexible group atmosphere beneficial. It requires much less commitment than an entire weekend workshop, and yet, each has gotten something to take away and practice after the short review.  

Graduates are telling us that they wanted more therapeutic practice (uh-huh, it’s your life’s work now) so the group is good for that as well as getting updated information about effective techniques.

Consider joining us for one or more study group sessions. You can come or skip as your monthly schedule allows! See our Continuing Education page for more details.

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

May 27, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Mary's Top 10 MT Traits

Do you want to become a licensed, professional massage therapist? Here are my Top 10 traits needed to be a great massage therapist.  


1. Like people, all kinds of people.

2. Like work, to be physically active with your hands and your whole body.

3. Like to learn, you understand there is no such thing as a know-it-all.

4. Like to refine what you do, you are always looking for better ways to do things.

5. Like to see immediate effects of your efforts, you would like to capitalize on an opportunity to make a difference to someone right now, this hour!

6. Live in the here and now. You accept that healing is not magical and that you will not be “healing” people.

7. Are able to put your needs aside for an hour. You will not blow your nose, touch your face, fart, or prattle on about your problems for one hour at a time.

8. Like to attend to detail and adapt to moment-by-moment changes. You can remember to check on many things in quick succession like what your hands are feeling, how your body is moving, what the client is doing/saying, how the tissue is changing.  You can follow through on what a client has told you and what you need to do to help the client achieve their goal.

9. Are a hygiene and sanitation nut. You could not risk your clients’ health, safety, and comfort with anything short of perfection in this department. Your body, breath, clothing, sheets for the table, lubricant containers will always be impeccably clean.

10. Take care of yourself to be able to take care of others. You will come to your appointments from a position of strength, not weakness. You will bring everything you have to help your clients: your health, knowledge, intellect, heart. You will care about each individual with whom you will work.

​I hope you have these traits!  Consider joining us to start your new career.

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

June 10, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Sports Massage & the Trek 100

Each year our students attend the MACC Fund Trek 100 bicycle event where they get a chance to practice their sports massage techniques with real athletes. It’s a hectic day, but very satisfying to help out some very dedicated athletes who give their time, effort and money to support a great organization. WSMT provided 125 short, focused massages at the event!

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

June 25, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Not So Fast With the Rocking Chair!

Over the years I’ve run into people seeking massage as a last resort to their chronic pain problem. Many times it has taken a long time for the problem to develop. Maybe it has been years of cycling without good stretching or cross-training. Maybe it has been years of sitting at a computer with head-forward posture, internally rotated shoulders, and overused hands without any attention to body-maintaining activities. Maybe the client has just been living in their body without realizing that the body has limits and it deserves attention to do its best for us every day and for many years.

Sometimes I hear from such clients that they think it might be time to hang up whatever it is that they have been doing which now causes them pain. Sometimes after one massage treatment they are surprised that the problem isn’t completely solved and they just wonder if they have to become more sedentary due to their pain. Sometimes there is disgust and anger at the body that it is “causing” pain problems!

This is unfortunate because, although rest to heal an injury is a good idea, radically changing to become less active to accommodate a muscular dysfunction usually is not. More inactivity often leads to less healthy tissues. And getting into an angry, adversarial relationship with one’s own body is always a bad idea.

The good news here is there are a lot of lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in these kinds of problems, especially if you give it the time and attention it deserves. I always say, “This needs to go on project status.” Getting on a regular massage schedule for a time and watching for improvement can help a lot. Incorporating things like stretching, cross-training, diet changes, and attention to sleep/rest can go a long way toward changing a musculoskeletal pain problem for the better.

Don’t resort to the rocking chair just yet!

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

June 29, 2013
Message from the Director - Mary McCluskey
Massage School is Fun

Many people approach the thought of returning to school as an adult with trepidation.  There may have been bad experiences with school in the past.  These might include learning difficulty, failure to complete classes, mean teachers or fellow students, boring classes and assignments, lack of real-world significance to the material, and more.  

Well, at WSMT we learn a lot, and we have a lot of fun at the same time!  Students regularly say they missed school when we have a week off.  They often approach graduation with both a sense of excitement and also sadness that the program is over.  Occasionally I even have a student ask me when we are going to start being mean, like school has always been!  These happenings let me know we are doing things right.  

Our goal at WSMT is for you to learn to become an excellent, effective massage therapist.  Our other goal is for you to enjoy school because we know that happy students learn better.  Everyone gains when students enjoy coming to class!

If you are worried about returning to school just know we work hard to make it a pleasant experience.  You will find it worth the risk of jumping in to make your dream of becoming a professional massage therapist come true! 

For reading about health, food, and travel see Mary's personal blog at

Laura, helping us to understand that a 
massage can be helpful when we are 
stressed and feel like we can't "ketchup."