Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Sept. 22, 2011 Volume 33, No. 5

Deskbound faculty and staff keep massage therapist busy


Massage can ease pain, reduce blood pressure

“Jeff is booked.”

Try to make an afternoon appointment with MU massage therapist Jeff Rioux, and that’s likely the message you’ll receive — unless your back pain can wait until after Thanksgiving. 

Rioux is a licensed therapist, specializing in orthopedic massage, sports massage, Swedish relaxation massage and therapeutic stretching. Rioux, who has been practicing for 11 years, said about 99 percent of his clients are MU faculty and staff, who are eligible for discounts through the Healthy for Life Wellness Program.

 “Usually when people think of massage therapy, they think of it as a treat, like eating chocolate,” he said. “But there is an increased awareness that massage has a role to play in pain management and other clinical issues.”

Rioux said the most common culprit responsible for his clients’ pain is the computer seat. Sitting down for the majority of the day, five days a week can cause misalignment in hips and shoulders. “Not only is a sedentary lifestyle bad for our heart,” he said, “it’s bad for the rest of our bodies.”

Gaye Baker, reimbursement coordinator for MU’s Department of Ophthalmology, is one of Rioux’s regular clients. She originally sought help with headaches, but now she’s motivated by prevention.

“People who work at desks a lot get a lot of back and shoulder tension,” Baker said. “This just helps me keep any problems away.”

Few scientific studies have measured the health effects of massage therapy, which is considered complementary or alternative medicine. The National Institute of Health, however, reports that massage can help reduce blood pressure and heart rate and is effective in treating depression and pain. And a recent study by the American Hospital Association/Health Forum found that 64 percent of hospitals use massage therapy as part of outpatient care.

“It used to be a very small percentage of the population that would consider massage therapy for chronic headaches, arthritis or hamstring (injuries),” Rioux said. “They would have previously just taken a pill.”

Rioux said every case is different, and he designs exercise regimens for his clients to practice between sessions. “If a client is motivated and does the exercises religiously, it may only take three sessions.”

Baker, who tries to schedule a deep-tissue massage every other week, said the therapy is a “great value for the price. I would say if you judge by how long it takes to get into his schedule now, that most of his other clients feel the same way.”

For MU employees, sessions at University Hospital cost $35 for 30 minutes; $50 for one hour; and $70 for 90 minutes. Rioux will also schedule two-hour, off-site chair massages for $150.

There have been discussions about expanding Rioux’s practice at University Hospital. Until then, new clients should try to schedule a morning or lunchtime appointment. They can also try to slip in after a cancellation.

At press time, he said, “the first opening I have for an afternoon slot is the 28th of November.”

To make an appointment, call 573-884-1312. 

— Megan Cassidy