We're meeting with Claire Hay, Santosa's massage therapist to find out a little more about her journey.
Do you remember the first time you had a massage?
Yes. It was in the late 1990s when I was living in a small town on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. My friend suggested we book in to see the local massage therapist. It was in an idyllic setting and a very relaxing experience.
When did you decide to become a massage therapist?
That was a few years later. I was back living in Edinburgh, working for a newspaper and was asked to review massage/beauty treatments for the beauty column.Once in a while I’d meet a massage therapist who clearly knew their stuff, and the treatment stood out because of it. I’d previously only thought of massage as a treat, as a pampering experience, but I realised that it can be much more than that, especially how it can help deal with stress. Those therapists made such an impression on me I decided that that was what I wanted to do.
There are so many different kinds of massage treatments - which ones do you offer?
My initial training was in Swedish massage, and subsequently I have trained in aromatherapy, Indian head massage, clinical massage (such as myofascial release, trigger point therapy and stretching) and pregnancy massage. My massage treatments often bring together a combination of techniques from these modalities, including a tailor-made aromatherapy blend (mostly organic) made at the beginning of the appointment. It really just depends on the client’s desired outcome. Over the years, I’ve found that a combination of these techniques works particularly well for clients dealing with stress and burnout.
What prompted you to train in Cancer Care Massage?
At the end of my Swedish massage training someone from the Iris Cancer Partnership came to speak to us about their foundation course, Massage for People Living with Cancer. I knew that this was something that I wanted to do but it wasn’t the right time - my dad had recently died of lung cancer. The right time came a few years later and I went on to complete their Level 1 training.
I now also massage at a Macmillan cancer support centre. No matter where someone is on their cancer journey, and that includes if they’re having medical treatment, they can have a cancer care massage. It is comfort-orientated. As the saying goes, ‘less is more’. The cancer and the treatments can be invasive and at a time when the person can feel disconnected from their body, massage can help renew this connection. Some find that their sleep improves or that side effects, such as anxiety and fatigue, are eased.
You hear stories about people being turned away from getting a massage because they have cancer.
Unfortunately these stories are all too common but it’s important for a massage therapist to have the appropriate training. I think all foundation massage courses should include some teaching on oncology massage, in the same way it already includes pregnancy massage – if you want to specialise in pre / post natal you do more training. It should be the same for cancer care massage then no-one is turned away.
Claire Hay, DipSM, DipCA, SMTO | Massage Therapist
Claire is available for a range of massage therapies at Santosa including:
Deep Tissue Massage
Indian Head Massage
Cancer Care Massage
1 Hour £45 | 1.5 Hours £65
Contact Claire for more information or to book an appointment: