Feb 1, 2024
Body & Soul

Soft tissue rehabilitation therapy with Stacy Butler

Stacy Butler, LMT, may have cracked the code. The secret of life is spelled out on a giant canvas in her tranquil waiting area: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

This quote, by Pablo Picasso, “comes closest to expressing the way I feel about my vocation,” Butler said. “I hesitate to even call it work. I love what I do.”

And what she does is this: soft tissue manipulation, better known to laypeople as massage therapy.

Emphasis on therapy. Butler has, from the very beginning, approached her career in massage from a therapeutic, holistic perspective.

“The most common misconception about massage therapy in general is that it’s all about pampering,” Butler said. “And while, yes, massage can feel really great in the moment, my goal with all of my clients is to help them enjoy all the other moments of their busy lives.”

This is why nearly 100% of her clients are regulars.

Depending on the reason for their therapy, Butler sees clients as often as semi-weekly to monthly, with the majority of her patients holding standing appointments every two weeks.

“While the reason for my clients’ first visit may be specific, often pain relief, they keep coming back for other reasons. I have some clients who have been with me for 15 years.”

Butler refers to her practice as “soft tissue rehabilitation therapy,” an approach that focuses on providing pain relief and restoring mobility in ligaments, muscles, tendons and fascia.

Fascia is a thin connective tissue that surrounds and links every muscle, organ and nerve fiber in our bodies. It is a continuous three-dimensional web of connectivity from head to foot. Dysfunctions in any one area can cause impingements in any other. Butler works with the whole body in mind — not just the point of pain.

“Massage therapy education has evolved,” she explained. “Fifteen years ago, when I was in school, the emphasis was on individual muscle groups. We learned everything there was to know about, for instance, hamstrings, then moved onto quads or lats. Today, we are taught to consider the whole body when devising a treatment plan. It is a much more holistic — and in my opinion, effective —approach.”

This is why Butler’s clients keep coming back. The maintenance of this fascial system underlies everything she does in the treatment room.

“Most of my clients have very active lives. They put their bodies through a lot. I’ve worked with NFL linebackers, Blue Wahoos players, MMA fighters, marathon runners and our very own middle and high school athletes. They all want to be able to keep doing what they do. I help them with that.”

Butler is especially passionate about helping clients recover in the aftermath of surgery. She works with patients who have undergone joint replacements, spinal fusions, plastic surgeries and other medical procedures. She also finds great satisfaction working with migraine and fibromyalgia sufferers, clients recovering from cancer and even people struggling with anxiety and depression.

“It is so gratifying to literally feel my clients getting better,” she said. “After so many years of doing this, my hands have become very intuitive. And with nearly all my clients coming in regularly, I get to know their bodies.”

While her hands are her most important tools, Butler does incorporate many different devices and modalities in her therapy sessions.

“Every client is unique — their therapy is too,” she said. “Every person receives fully individualized therapy, and it can change from session to session, based on what I ‘feel’ when I begin their massage and what they report to me regarding their symptoms.”

This is why Butler encourages all her clients to talk to her. They often ask her what she thinks they might have done to cause impingement or pain. She can only solve that mystery with a lot of clues.

“A current client suffered a mysterious return of migraines after being in remission for months,” Butler said. “My immediate question was, ‘What has changed?’”

In the end, it was something as simple as the height of her desk when she returned to her office after COVID. This client now works from a stand-up desk, and her condition has improved. Regular monthly “tune-ups” help keep her symptoms at bay.

“Massage, or soft tissue rehabilitation, is a little like maintenance for your car,” Butler explained. “You wouldn’t drive 100,000 miles without getting regular tune-ups, oil changes and new tires, would you? Give your body the same love.”

Butler smiled — she smiles a lot — and glanced back up at the framed Picasso quote in her lobby. She has found her gift; she gives it away.

“I’m so fortunate. I get to do what I love every day of my life. And I get to help others continue to do what they love.”

How great is that?