by Katie Madden, RN, BSN, IBCLC
I have gotten three massages in my life. One left me with a headache. The other two were amazing and relaxing, but left me with a heavy, tired feeling in my body. So when Liz Kerrick offered to give me a Shiatsu massage on my 34th birthday, I was apprehensive at first. Sure, I wanted a massage, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my birthday feeling like a slug. Also, I am not really all that into “energy work.” But, I happen to love and trust Liz. I have been there to care for her at The Birth Center since she had Isla five years ago. So, I took her up on her offer. She told me to wear comfy clothes because I don’t get undressed for a Shiatsu massage. Sweet. No awkward nakedness? Even better.
Let me back up for a moment and tell you a little about Liz. I am always struck by how radiant Liz is. She is gorgeous and has perfect blonde tendrils, but her beauty is more than that. She glows. There is something so light and warm about her. Again, I am not an “energy” person, but her energy is simply infectious. You may have spotted her leaping from one of Angie Gray’s gorgeous pictures at the top of the first flight of steps at The Birth Center.
So, I went to see Liz after I dropped Lucy off at school. She is situated just over the DE/PA line off of 202 on the second floor of a Chiropractor’s office. She led me to a bright, neutral room with a futon on the floor. I filled out some paperwork and we got started. I reminded Liz I may look at her funny when she starts talking about “meridians” or “chakras” or whatever it is, but please feel free to tell me a little about my energy.
So, at first, everything seemed pretty similar to a regular massage minus the nakedness and oils. I was chatting away as I tend to do and she was working her way up my spine putting pressure on either side of my spine with her thumbs. At one point, she hits a spot midway up my back and I got silent. Like, I literally couldn’t talk and my whole body went limp. Once I could regain my voice I told Liz what happened and she told me that was my something meridian which is connected to my bladder. I said, “I’m glad I didn’t pee myself.” Liz laughed and let me know it didn’t work like that. Silly non-energetic Katie Madden.
Before the massage, I had mentioned to Liz that my shoulders were really tight. Like many others, I carry my stress and tension in my neck and shoulders. She went to work on my left shoulder. It wasn’t a massage though. It was more like pressure plus stretching. It was almost as if she were stretching muscles I couldn’t reach or stretch by myself. The pressure was on the brink of pain and I would have told her to back off if it didn’t feel so damn good. When she was done with my shoulder it literally dropped two inches below my ear. Interestingly enough, I had a lymph node under my left ear that hadn’t drained for two weeks that I noticed was 90% smaller immediately after the massage.
On and on this pressure/stretching went. For 90 minutes, she passively stretched my body using her own body as resistance. For example, at one point I was laying on my stomach and she placed her bare foot on my sacrum, bent my knees and pulled both legs up. It was the best hip flexor stretch I have ever felt.
At the end of the massage, she did a few weird things like “brushed” my back with her hands and pulled each finger. Liz told me that massage and stretching mobilizes a lot of toxins in your system. A major difference between Shiatsu and traditional massage is that in Shiatsu she gets rid of the toxins. I wasn’t a slug after this appointment. I felt light and energized. I went home and ran three miles.
Here is the interesting thing. After the massage I was sitting talking with Liz about what she observed during my massage. I was raving about how amazing and loose my shoulders felt. She told me those muscles or energetic pathways or whatever are connected to decision-making. She asked me if I was trying to make a big decision right now. No. I wasn’t. But, I had made a bunch of huge decisions in January and February. I asked if there could have been “build-up” in my body. She said absolutely. Hmm. Interesting… maybe this energy work makes a lot more sense than I imagined.
Liz told me that no two massages are ever really alike. Somehow, the body she is working on tells her what to do. That is something I can totally understand. When you are a master at what you do, as Liz is, you simply just practice your craft. She may find areas of grief from a past loss of a pregnancy. She may mobilize muscles that are preventing a good milk production. She may help find pent up anger and release it. Liz said often times, the person getting a massage will start crying for no clear reason. It is just one way energy leaves the body.
I may not get into all the terminology and theory behind energy work, but I certainly will be going back to Liz for more amazing bodywork. Whatever energy she happens to find and brush out of my body is simply a perk.
Elizabeth Kerrick is a certified Zen Shiatsu practitioner.
After attending Penn State University where she majored in human development and family studies, Elizabeth discovered Shiatsu and was attracted to its healing principles and benefits. She enrolled at the International School of Shiatsu located in Doylestown, PA, obtained her Zen Shiatsu certification in 2003, and started her own practice in Manayunk and Old City, Philadelphia.
In 2009, Elizabeth and her husband moved to Wilmington, Delaware, to start their family. As Elizabeth’s family grew, her Shiatsu practice took on new meaning as she gave Shiatsu treatments to her two little girls and husband. Elizabeth treats all ages and a significant portion of her practice is dedicated to treating the family unit. Especially women during and after pregnancy who experience discomfort, and desire to refocus energy on their personal body awareness and balance. During treatments, Elizabeth utilizes many traditional hands-on Shiatsu techniques including acupressure, stretching, and rocking. Elizabeth believes Shiatsu treatments help to heal the whole person by focusing on the root cause of discomforts or emotions as opposed to treatments that focus on suppressing symptoms.
Elizabeth is inspired by every treatment, and the foundation of her practice is the positive and healing intention she brings to every client’s treatment with the goal “to create harmony within to create harmony all around.”
Contact: 215-901-3430 / ElizabethaKerrick@gmail.com