Angela O’Connell never saw massage therapy becoming as big of a part of her life as it has. But when her oldest son was diagnosed with autism, she left her career behind to focus on supporting him. It was after seeing how he responded to massage therapy techniques used by her son’s occupational therapist that O’Connell decided to support him in his healing.
“He had so many sensory issues and he did so well with that type of therapy,” O’Connell said. “It really benefited him, and so I decided I could do it part time and also help treat him.”
Five years ago she graduated from massage school; she did her internship at Cloud 9, Making Waves and EJ Movement. Then, one day, inspiration hit.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own clinic,” O’Connell said. “But when this space became available, I just saw it as my next logical step in my career.”
River Rock Massage opened March 2 at 432 Water St., Prairie du Sac. So far, business has been good. “It helps having your own place with a sign on the building,” O’Connell said.
She said the Sauk Prairie community is very supportive of alternate ways of health and wellness.
“There are two dozen of us (massage therapists) in our two towns who work in salons or out of their homes,” O’Connell said. “It’s amazing how for how small our two towns are that can support that many. It shows this community is very open to alternative care. And we’re all busy, so that’s pretty awesome.”
There are a variety of techniques used in massage therapy; O’Connell said she uses a mixture of Swedish massage and deep tissue techniques, along with neuromuscular therapy.
Massage isn’t the only service provided there. There’s a room dedicated to infrared sauna, which uses heat and light to help relax and detoxify the body. In addition, O’Connell shares space with Melissa Graf, owner of Origins Acupuncture and Wellness.
Graf tried acupuncture back in 2004 to treat whiplash. “It helped me immensely, so I decided to pursue Chinese medicine school,” Graf said. Graf started practicing in the Sauk Prairie area part time, opening along with River Rock Massage in March.
“I think acupuncture and massage fit really well together and many people can benefit from the two modalities,” she said. “While my treatments include a little massage and cupping, it’s very different than what Angela provides.”
Graf said acupuncture can help a variety of ailments, including headaches, allergies, provide stress relief, back and neck pain, anxiety and depression.
O’Connell said many people to try out a massage for the first time due to wanting relief from stress.
“We all have so many activities and our jobs are stressful and we are constantly in motion with our kids,” she said. “I think finding time to lay and zone out for an hour is a really big draw for some. For others, it’s about pain management. Some people don’t want to take pain relievers for one reason or another. So it’s an alternative way to deal with pain.”