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Therapist: Medical Massage Popular

Massage no longer considered a luxury, but a medical therapy, local massage therapist said.

Medical massage treatments are becoming more popular, Heather Lastuka, a licensed massage therapist who has worked at Hand and Stone Spa, said.

"The massage business is booming," said Latsuka, "People are looking at massage as more of a medical treatment than just a spa treatment. The trend is spreading through word of mouth."

Lastuka became licensed in April 2009, and worked at the Huntington Rehabilitation physical therapy office. She is now expanding her private practice in Smithtown in a space she rents from a chiropractor.

To become licensed, massage therapy students must complete a 72-credit program. Lastuka became interested in massage therapy because she was attracted to the health-care field.

"Massage therapy is a medical treatment without all the blood," she said.

Lastuka's clients have a variety of ailments, like recent knee replacement pain, stiff backs and neck stress and most fall in the 25 – 45 age range.

"Working the muscles helps relieve the pain," Lastuka said. "My clients have definitely seen results. People who tell me they haven't turned their head in years now easily can."

These range-of-motion benefits are a clear, unique benefit of massage therapy. But in today's Advil and Tylenol- obsessed world, does massage therapy rival the medication?

"It's all about balance," Lastuka said. "Muscle inflammation can be reduced through massage therapy exercises, but also with drugs, ice application and through nutritional counseling, since foods you eat influence the muscles."

Lastuka said her clients are her best advertisers. "As clients see results from our services they are referring other patients," she said. "People just keep coming."



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