Louise Mueller is a massage therapist from Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound, north of Seattle, WA. She is getting ready to retire from the profession at age 87. In this interview, she shares how she got into the massage therapy profession, what she loves about massage and how she has practiced self-care to keep performing massage well into her 80s.
What drew you to the massage therapy profession? How long have you been practicing?
I decided to become a massage therapist, when I realized that I was burning out from running my business for 18 years - I cared for six senior people in my home, the oldest being 106. I had also worked in real estate, sales, and teaching over the years as well as being a wife and mother.
I knew I wanted to be a healer. When I was in college, my major was physical therapy. I didn't finish my fourth year - sad, but that's life. Massage therapy was a natural step after my physical therapy training. I completed my massage training in 1997 when I was 68 years old - I was the oldest person in my class! I started my massage business the same year.
What do you enjoy most about being a massage therapist? What are the challenges?
I have always enjoyed feeling the muscles under my fingers change and relax and seeing the client relax and smile. The energy in my fingers is very strong and very healing. People have said that I have "magic fingers." The challenges are the male clients. They are so muscular and don't always relax easily.
How has AMTA impacted your career?
in the 20 years I have been practicing, the AMTA conventions have been a godsend! I've attended every one of them, have always learned so much, and wouldn't have learned about hot/cold stone therapy without them, which has saved my hands.
How do you practice self-care?
I always wash my hands in cold water after each client. If I can offer advice, I would say that you should be aware of your posture and your body mechanics. Relax, be happy, and love what you do.
Do you have advice on how to have a long career in massage therapy?
What better thing to do in the world than to take people out of pain? I have always just loved my work and the people. I really think love is the answer!
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