Massage Therapist

Interview Genna Neilson, massage therapist in Amsterdam

In this interview, Genna tells us about her passion for massage therapy and why it is particularly helpful to new and expectant parents. Read on to learn more!

Could you tell us a little bit about you?

Hi, I’m Genna Neilson. I’m originally from the United States and I come from a very lively family! I am one of five children and I grew up in a very small town in the state of New York called Kinderhook. I’ve lived in New York City, in different parts of Italy, and I’ve now been living in Amsterdam since 2012. I’m the mother of three half Italian, half American, 100% Dutch children aged seven, four and six months ☺  

I’ve been working as a massage therapist for over 10 years, practising in Amsterdam Watergraafsmeer for over six years now.

Why did you chose to become a massage therapist?

Thanks to my mother, I’ve always loved to give massage (I even used to make gift certificates for my parents for their birthday – I’d gift them a five-minute hand massage or a ten-minute foot massage)). She instilled a strong importance of therapeutic touch and encouraged all of us to regularly receive massage from the age of seven. From a very early age, massage became a way for me to connect to my body and to notice how I feel about it in general. 

I studied something completely different since, and I chose to study classical antiquity and Latin at university (which actually helps in learning muscles names!). Later on, I went traveling with my husband and missed having a skill that I could easily practice anywhere around the world. This is when I decided to explore massage and realised I still had a passion for it. I decided to go back to school!

What study do you need to follow to become a massage therapist?

In the US, it varies state by state. I went to the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences in New York City, which is the oldest institute in the United States for massage therapy. My grandmother actually attended this same school and graduated from it seventy-five years before me! (This is why my mother was very aware of the importance of massage therapy!)

I followed a very intensive program for nearly 2 years, for five full days a week with a thousand practice hours in Eastern and Western therapies. After that, I passed the state board examinations to be able to practice in the state of New York.

The program is very extensive and includes neurology classes, working on site in hospitals, in hospice care houses, etc. And although it is called the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences, it now goes way beyond Swedish massage, teaching equally both Eastern and Western modalities (Shiatsu, Tui Na, etc.).

Is there a type of massage you specialise in?

I label my work as customized therapeutic massage. It’s everything from Swedish classical massage to deep tissue trigger point. The type of massage I provide really depends on what the person coming to me needs at that moment. 

What’s their concept of relaxing? Maybe they need the stronger pressure? Or maybe they want some slow strokes that really calm down the parasympathetic nervous system and slow down the breathing? Everyone is particular and has different goals…  I find it really important to discuss them upfront. 

Do you often work with expectant mothers or fathers? How can you help them?

Yes, absolutely. I do see a fair number of expectant mothers and fathers. I sometimes treat whole families and already had a few mothers bring in their newborns here as well so that they could just get a quick massage while the baby is sleeping!  There is a lot going on when you are expecting a baby… massage is a way to reconnect, settle and help relieve some of the discomfort that parents are feeling so they can focus more on the joyful parts.

Which massages are particularly indicated for them?

My massage is always customized to the needs of the individual, so it really depends. I provide foot reflexology treatments which stimulate points and zones in the feet in order to bring balance to the body as a whole.

I find that to be a really beautiful way to treat the body by just working on one specific spot. If expectant mothers are feeling heartburn or acid reflex for instance, I focus on the area of the oesophagus or the cardiac sphincter. By stimulating those nerve endings that make their way to the oesophagus and then go back to the spinal column and up to the brain, the brain is able to tell that whole pathway “calm down, work as you’re supposed to work!”. It helps bring the body into balance.

What are the main discomfort expectant mums come to you with?

It is generally about hip/ pelvic pain, lower back pain and… shoulders because there’s a lot of changes going on in the pectoral region! The body of a pregnant woman changes in so many ways in such a short span of time that it really throws the whole balance and dynamic off. From legs swelling to feelings of stress and uncertainty or carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist…expectant mothers experience many sorts of discomfort. 

How frequently should one get a massage?

I always encourage everybody to incorporate massage into their lifestyle. You are your best therapist! You know yourself best. You decide how often you want to come. After a first session, it is important to listen to your body and see how long the effects last for. On average, I see people once a month or once every two months but if there is a more pressing issue (headaches for example) I might see them more frequently.

Do you still get massages yourself?

Yes, of course! I do it once a month. If I could, I would do it more!

What is the one advice you wish every new and expectant parent would receive?

Keep time for yourself! I think that is really, really important. We get caught up in this rush, we focus on providing for our child(ren) and we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Massage is really a chance to reconnect and remind yourself that you are loved and deserve to feel good!

Why did you decide to join Parentally?

I think Parentally is a beautiful way to provide new and expectant parents with a handful of useful services and tools, all in one place. I know personally that the process of parenthood can feel very overwhelming. I hope this platform will minimize the stress and allow parents to focus on the joy of that process. 

And I would love to be a part of that joy and a part of that journey! 

Want to know more about Genna? Browse her profile, discover the services she offers and book an appointment with her on Parentally now: GennaNeilson

Related topics: discover how acupuncture can help during pregnancy, read here!  

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