Massage Therapist Offers New Take on Ancient Arts

The Garden
by Blake Jones
Massage therapist offers new take on ancient arts

There are a lot of reasons why Gary Remes has taken to massage therapy.

For starters, it’s in the family.

His Ukrainian grandfather, a Russian massage practitioner, started passing down lessons when Remes was 4.

And then there’s his own history of chronic pain, which led him to seek relief from massage therapists as well as chiropractors and acupuncturists.

As a teen, Remes suffered 12 hairline fractures in his back from a gymnastics accident. Over the years, poor posture from his injury led to spinal stenosis in his neck, for which he had surgery a year ago. And last January, Remes was in a car accident and suffered whiplash.

“When I get better, something else happens,” he said.

Now 52, he still has lower disc problems. But the affected area has improved from three discs to one. And the arthritis that once plagued his low back is gone.

Remes credits a combination of therapies with his own health improvements, as he noticed longer-lasting results when he paired different healing arts therapies back to back.

About 15 years ago — he has been a licensed massage therapist for 16 years — he began developing that same combination of treatments into one therapy, which he now calls neuro fascial re-education.

“It’s a melody instead of a single note,” he said of the concept.

“Neuro” refers to the nervous system that sends signals of pain, and “fascial” is the body’s connective tissue, which serves as a path on which pain can travel.

Remes says that while traditional approaches treat the exact points of discomfort, his approach looks at how pain can migrate far from its origin.

For example, he may see signs of tension headaches or neck pain by looking at the legs or back — or even the feet.

“Most massage therapists are trained to believe that all our problems are where we think they are,” Remes said. “I’m trained to believe they’re not.”

While the individual components of neuro fascial re-education -— primarily massage and acupressure — have long histories in Western and Eastern medicine, Remes prides himself on drawing from his broad training to tackle chronic pain and limited rage of motion in a unique way.

His clients are often referred to him by chiropractors, osteopaths and physical therapists when their own patients are too tense for their work.

He said he also sees other massage therapists as well as people with multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.

“I’m looking for the people who have tried everything,” he said.

Katie Buckley, a physical therapist on-island, went to Remes for her back after injuring it three weeks ago.

As a therapist herself and a trained Reiki master, Buckley said she is particular about who she sees. But she was so impressed with his work that she’s even referred her own patients to him.

She called Remes a “good healer” who brings compassion to his work, which she feels is informed by his own history of chronic pain.

“For those of us who spend decades in pain, it’s a real honor to help someone get out of pain,” Buckley said.

Remes offers neuro fascial re-education in addition to neuro-emotional kinesiology, myofascial release, cranial sacral bodywork and different types of massage, including sports, Swedish, deep tissue, shiatsu and jin shin do.

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