The Colgate Scene ON-LINE


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NTUITIVE HANDS

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by John D. Hubbard

Amy Moss Clark ’82 can feel trouble coming on. She can put her finger on a problem and in her hands is the power to exact change.

A sports massage therapist in athletically active Fairfield County Connecticut, Clark sees about 15 clients a week practicing preventive and rehabilitative massage. Whether it’s someone in training for the Ironman Triathalon or a post-operative referral, Clark’s patients find relief under her touch.

A political science major with a minor in philosophy and religion, Clark augmented her Colgate experience with two study groups — to England and Washington. A self-described city kid from Brooklyn, Clark needed the semesters away to ward off cabin fever.

"While I was in England, I knew I wanted to live abroad after grad-uation," says Clark. First, though, she worked in the financial world long enough to learn it "really wasn’t me." The experience, however, would prove invaluable.

When Clark’s then-boyfriend, now-husband Bill had the opportunity to be transferred to England, Clark went along. What was supposed to be a two-year assignment stretched into nine years.

 


A sports massage therapist in athletically active Fairfield County Connecticut, Clark sees about 15 clients a week practicing preventive and rehabilitative massage.


"It was the right place at the right time," according to Clark, since the British business world was "desperate for Americans." She found herself in television, first producing a weekly business and current affairs show for London’s Channel Four, and later a daily program. Clark even stepped out from behind the scenes to do reporting and on-camera work in her sixth year.

By then, however, she and Bill were married and their daughter Elise was born. The baby faced major medical complications that required nearly around-the-clock attention.

Clark, always active, began running again as a way to relieve the stress of Elise’s demanding care. An injury led to the discovery of a leg length discrepancy, a widespread though often-overlooked condition.

"One day I couldn’t move. I had been tearing muscles in my hips, knees and shins. I had to undergo a big rehab program — there were tears everywhere."

During the year and a half of gym work and healing, Clark realized the one who helped her the most was a massage therapist. "I was intrigued, and the next thing I knew I was in school."

Not only was the London School of Sports Massage "preeminent," Clark had come to the conclusion she wanted to work part time and be her own boss. It was also clear to her ancillary medical practices were "up and coming."

The program, unlike most massage training, was strongly medical-oriented. "Science was anathema to me and here I was studying anatomy, physiology and kinesiology and working with doctors the whole way."

After completing the intense two-year program, Clark began a practice, only to learn a year later her family would be returning to the United States. The transition proved easy, however, and her practice has grown through referrals and word of mouth.

 

08b.JPG (27503 bytes) "I help people with their pain," says Clark, "help athletes return to training."

By working deep tissue, muscles, tendons and ligaments, Clark is able to increase the flow of oxygen through the body, which in turn cleans out toxins. Massage also helps break down scar tissue, which restricts range of motion.

Another benefit is teaching the brain that the proper function of the muscle is possible again. Following a sprained ankle, for instance, the brain will think that limited mobility is normal. Massage helps to reset the brain’s control center. "I’m not just pushing skin back and forth," says Clark. "The idea is to keep the machine in the best shape, and massage is a very effective technique for people who are active."

Massage is grueling work, and Clark limits her practice to "15 bodies a week." She works out daily herself and has studied Tai Chi to improve her body balance and endurance. A typical session lasts an hour and most people come once a week, though Clark was working with some women training for the Olympic trails who came twice a week.

While not a diagnostician, Clark has seen enough bodies to have a sense of what is happening — whether it’s a frozen shoulder or a ruptured disc. "I pride myself on being able to get right in there. You don’t realize how unaware people are of their bodies, and men more than women. They want to work through the pain."

Helping people is Amy Moss Clark’s work and she has the power in her hands.