Get to know AMTA National Convention speaker Leisa Bellmore and learn more about her hands-on session "Shiatsu for Migraines." Read Leisa's story below!
Why massage therapy?
I was thinking about a career change and wanted to do something that would really have an impact on people's lives. I was impressed with how effective shiatsu and acupuncture were for me, and I was fascinated by anatomy and physiology. I also worked with my hands in my previous career as a theater costumer. Given all of that, shiatsu seemed the logical choice.
How long have you been practicing?
Since 2001. It's my 15th anniversary this year!
What was your education like?
I chose the most in-depth shiatsu course I could find, which was a full-time, two-year program, plus practicum. I had extensive study in anatomy, physiology and pathology, along with shiatsu theory and practice, kinesiology, nutrition and TCM. I studied and practice Namikoshi shiatsu, which has less emphasis on TCM and more on Western anatomy. I chose this style of shiatsu because I felt it was important to be able to communicate with my patients regarding their health in Western medical terms that they could easily understand. I also thought it would help in communicating with other health professionals. I'm also currently pursuing an MSc in Complementary Medicine Research.
What is your current setting like?
I work at the Artists' Health Centre (AHC), a unique integrative clinic at Toronto Western Hospital, part of the University Health Network. The AHC offers biomedical care alongside complementary and alternative health care to serve the health needs of professional creative and performing artists.
Education is a big part of my practice, not just for other manual therapists, but also for the general public. I love giving people the tools they need to better manage their health and wellness.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
Our team collaborates to give our patients the best possible health outcomes. We have a great deal of respect for each other and each other's disciplines. It is amazing to be working in an integrative environment where consultation and collaboration are such a key element of the clinic philosophy. It is wonderful to be a valued member of a team in the hospital environment, something that is extremely rare in the world of shiatsu.
How has AMTA impacted your career?
Why should massage therapists attend your session at the AMTA National Convention?
My session will be about using shiatsu to decrease frequency, severity and duration of migraine. It is such a complex neurological condition that I find it absolutely fascinating and love speaking about it. The techniques are fairly easy to learn, and, with practice, the process can often stop migraine pain before the treatment is over. Shiatsu can be (although isn't always) extremely gentle, so it can be used on people who are in severe pain.
Takeaways from your session that attendees won’t see in the description?
Participants will gain a clear understanding of the phases of migraine and their symptoms, which many people are not fully aware of. I'll also discuss recent research on migraine. Most importantly, I'll talk participants through self-shiatsu for migraine so they get a feel for the points. They'll work with a partner so they feel confident in taking these techniques and applying them in clinical practice.
Your advice to newcomers to the profession?
Listen to your hands. Be open to learning new techniques and new approaches, but never forget to keep listening to your hands.
Attend the AMTA National Convention in Milwaukee October 26-29! Check out Leisa's session "Shiatsu for Migraines" and expand your knowledge and skills!