ROCHESTER - Kelly Wilson Rogers of Rochester remembers picking rocks out of topsoil on her dad's Aroostook County potato farm as a child and one year asking him, "How come there's always more rocks, they should be gone by now."
"He told me, 'They just keep coming up from the bottom,'" she said on Tuesday, likening getting the deeper rocks out of the ground to provide better topsoil to getting the knots out of the deeper muscles of her customers so they can have less pain and feel more mobile.
While the average career length of a massage therapist is about seven years, Rogers has been doing it for almost 30 years, the last 11 on her office on Walnut Street.
|The bamboo rollers she uses to knead skin and break down achy muscle knots.
She said working since the 1980s has given her a deep understanding of the benefits of clinical massage, not to mention strong hands.
"People are surprised by my how strong my hands are," she said. "That's from growing up on a potato farm and digging potatoes."
And just like the stones she kept digging out of the ground up in The County, she said getting down through the six to eight layers of muscle to get out the deeper knots is vital to bring relief to aching bodies.
To do that she uses bamboo heated to 126 degrees to help soften up tissue and knead muscle.
"You try to get as deep as you can," she said.
Rogers said she has about 100 regular customers who take up most of her time yearround, but there's usually a spike after the first snowfall when people are either falling down or straining their back shoveling or clearing snow.
"I always see an uptick with the first snowfall," she said, adding it's busy all year, with outdoor sports like water skiing in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
Rogers, who caters to a mainly female clientele, is familiar with all types of massage, but chiefly works on deep tissue and neuro muscular. She also works as a subcontractor for patients of Dr. Joel Thone, a Rochester chiropractor.
"We work hand in hand with chiropractors, because they work on the skeletal and I work the muscular," she said.
One unique aspect of her work is use of heated bamboo, which she uses like a rolling pin to soften up tissue to help get deep into muscle to get out the knots.
She said she likes the bamboo instead of hot stone massage, because often they tend to get too hot and can click, which can "hurts relaxation," she said.
Rogers says virtually everyone could benefit from therapeutic massage.
"Everyone's got knots," she said.
Besides being one of the longest-practicing licensed massage therapists in the state, Rogers has also been recognized as one who is has been most supportive of her profession, mentoring young people who are considering a career like hers.
Two years ago the state of New Hampshire awarded her a Mentorship
Award - its first ever - for helping people get started in their own massage therapist practice.
"It's so rewarding seeing people get better and see them so happy," she said. "If I didn't have to charge, I wouldn't. It's my gift."
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