As Seen in the Main Line Time - June 21, 2001

BRYN MAWR - The Philadelphia 76ers, who battled through injuries to reach the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, needed all the healing hands they could find this season. Some of these healing hands were to be found at MassageWorks, a Bryn Mawr massage therapy center that worked closely with Sixers trainer Lenny Courier during the season.

And it all began with Sixers President Pat Croce. "Ann Marie Woods, owner of MassageWorks, said, "A long time client referred Pat (Croce) to me right after he injured his leg. He started coming in weekly and told me, 'I'm a great believer in the healing powers of massage therapy.' He said he noticed a big improvement (in his recovery process) right away, and in turn thought this would be great for the basketball team. He said to me, 'I Want you down there (with the Sixers)."

Woods and her staff of sports massage therapists started with the Sixers last October. Woods said, "Toni Kukoc took to it, then slowly but surely the other players took to it (within about a month). "The players would come to me on their own, but (Sixers trainer) Lenny Currier would give me a headsup on who needed what, so we worked together with Lenny after every Sixers home practice. During the NBA playoffs, we traveled to Milwaukee and Los Angeles. "It was a great experience for me traveling with the team to LA and I feel honored that they asked us."

Woods traveled with the team to Los Angeles, while staff massage therapist Kyla McFadden went to Milwaukee with the Sixers. Woods, a longtime professional sports massage therapist who has done therapeutic massage professionally for 20 years, has worked at the Olympics in Barcelona, the Ironman in Hawaii and the Royal Ballet Company visiting from London.

Woods, who has worked with professional athletes from around the world said, "Most professional athletes have a massage therapist. We work with specific muscle tissues to help with the healing process, flushing out lactic acid and helping the body to heal so (the athlete) can go back to their peak performance more readily - it speeds up the recuperation process. For basketball players, shoulder release points, lower back and legs are key (muscle areas). "There's a remedial type of massage - a kind of fix-it - and there's a proactive massage for optimum performance (in sports). In sports massage, we do a little of both. Most athletes know their bodies really well, and most have had traumas here and there over the years."

Woods, who used to play basketball at Archbishop Carroll High School, said, "The Sixers are a great group of guys. They have a great camaraderie. They're a tight group, supportive of each other." Woods added, "Pat (Croce) has been a great inspiration for me as a business owner. He's given me pointers as to marketing and capitalizing on what you have advocating the therapeutic benefits of massage." MassageWorks, incorporated in 1996, has a second center in Wayne at the Club La Maison. MassageWorks has a team of 20 nationally certified therapists each of whom has had at least a year's worth of full-time educational training.

Woods encourages continued education to her staff and often gives them tutorials on the finer points of specific muscle work.

The mission of MassageWorks is to integrate their knowledge of massage therapy and holistic medicine to aid individuals with specific anatomical and muscular problems, while reducing stress and facilitating clients' misunderstanding of massage as a preventive medicine.

At MassageWorks, part of their expertise ranges from prenatal to infant massage to massage for the older adult. Woods said, "We work at the Ardmore Senior Center once a week. Like the basketball players, the seniors were a little skeptical at first, but once they took to it they really took to it, so now we're doing two days a week (at Ardmore) because the seniors are enjoying it so much. The feedback we get from moms (on infant massage) is incredible they say their babies are sleeping better and eating better."

MassageWorks also has been embraced by the business world as stress management/preventive medicine, and has been quoted as being the best passive stress-buster to prevent corporate burnout.

MassageWorks performs on-site chair massage at corporate offices on the Main Line and throughout the greater Philadelphia area. Woods said, "Michael Mannix of United Behavioral Health told me, 'We should have you on retainer.' The feedback we've gotten from them has been really, really positive."

MassageWorks can be reached at 610-525-0110.

Bruce Adams, Main Line Times