By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN For some people, getting a massage is simply a way to unwind after a stressful day, but massage therapist Christopher Vaughan of Waverly knows that the right touch can also be a powerful way to alleviate a host of medical conditions.
“The best reward is when patients get off the table and they’re like, ‘wow! The pain is gone,’” Vaughan said. “They look so shocked, like ‘it actually worked.’”
Vaughan opened his own practice, Power of Touch, in the Adjust to Wellness building in Waverly Sept. 8.
He offers a “medically-based” approach to massage, implementing a variety of techniques to address problems in the spine, bottom of foot, jaw, and more.
“Any place that soft tissue and musculature is, which is basically everywhere,” Vaughan said.
The benefits of massage therapy are numerous.
“It may have a tendency to lower anxiety levels, lower blood pressure, and improve digestion,” according to Vaughan. “It doesn’t hurt, and at the very worst, you’re going to come out relaxed and feeling better.”
Elderly people often receive massage therapy as a form of “passive exercise.” Similar to active exercising, such as going for a run, massage has the potential to stimulate blood flow, help sore muscles, and increase energy level.
Young people can also benefit from Vaughan’s services. Athletes often receive sports massage therapy before and after their events, as a way to release lactic acid and waste products from the muscles.
“It can be any age, really,” Vaughan said. “I have a patient who’s in high school with slight muscle strain from a soccer injury, and I’ve worked on Vietnam vets in their 70s.”
Some people enjoy massage for relaxation and “general wellness benefits,” according to Vaughan.
“Even if a person doesn’t come in with a specific issue, there are usually one or two muscle areas that could use rehab work,” Vaughan said.
Headaches and migraines caused by tension in the soft tissue, as well as pain from sitting at a desk or driving, can also be alleviated through massage.
“Our society is very computer-oriented now,” Vaughan. “We’re locked in one position, our arms forward and looking at a screen.”
Vaughan has experienced firsthand the pain-relieving impact of massage.
“In my case, I had some extreme pain in the back of my head at the base of my skull,” he said. Through “trigger point” therapy (applying pressure to tender muscle tissue), his pain is completely gone.
“Trigger point therapy really sold me,” Vaughan said.
Sometimes, pain can be relieved in one session, but it may take two or three, depending on the level of congestion.
Vaughan said he had no idea how useful massage therapy was before attending training at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington.
“At Northwestern, it was introduced in a totally different way,” he said.
Vaughan always enjoyed helping people, but he hadn’t been formally involved in the health care industry until recently.
“I used to do computer work,” said Vaughan, who’s done everything from server administration and small website design to computer networking and custom assemblies.
One of the companies Vaughan worked for, Toccoa Clinic in Georgia, introduced him to the medical field. Helping his grandmother while she was in hospice care also furthered Vaughan’s interest.
“One of the best aspects of working in the hospital was interacting with people,” he said.
Vaughan earned a bachelor’s degree in neuropsychology from the University of Georgia, and also served in the military reserve.
Then, he decided to come to Minnesota, in order to see a different part of the country and escape from the Georgia heat.
“Minnesota seemed like a good place,” Vaughan said. “I enjoy the winter sports snowboarding, cross country skiing whatever you want to throw at me.”
Vaughan remembers that the day he arrived, Oct. 31, 2008, there was already snow on the ground.
Initially, Vaughan was hired for contract computer work at Wells Fargo, and he was living in St. Paul. However, when he saw an ad for a house on the lake in Waverly, he knew that was where he wanted to be.
“I’m more of an outdoors, away-from-the-city type of guy,” he said. “The price was really great, and here I am.”
Vaughan said massage therapy is more related to computer work than one might think.
“In some ways, it’s similar,” he said. “It’s still fixing things. Machines are very predictable, however, whereas every person responds in a different way.”
Vaughan’s goal is to be a provider in natural health care, continuing his training and education to offer additional services. In the future, he plans to become a master herbalist, and also obtain training in myofascial massage techniques.
To learn more or to make an appointment, call (706) 599-4548. Power of Touch (in the Adjust to Wellness building) is located one block north of Highway 12, at 202 5th Street North in Waverly.