Jamara Joyal is the face, and the hands, behind Jamara Joyal Massage Therapy.

Joyal graduated from the 3-year program at the Okanagan Valley College of Massage Therapy in 2009. Shortly after graduation Joyal moved to Merritt, where she has now been in practice for a decade, after beginning to take on patients in March of 2010.

According to HealthLink BC, there are at least 80 types of massage. Massage is defined as the rubbing and manipulation of soft tissues, such as muscles, in order to stimulate blood flow, reduce tension and pain and promote relaxation. Massage therapists may provide active (intense) or passive (gentle) massages, using their hands, forearms, elbows or even feet.

Joyal was drawn to massage therapy as it is a career that gives her the opportunity to help others.

I believe that there is always a way to reduce pain and improve your quality of life,” said Joyal.

“Massage therapy is an amazing treatment option to help people improve a person’s health and reduce pain.”

Joyal helps people from all walks of life. From those recovering from workplace or vehicle accidents, to stressed moms and students, or those simply seeking to reduce chronic pain.

“Massage therapy can treat many injuries and conditions as well as many ages,” said Joyal.

“I have treated children, teenagers, seniors and pregnant women.”

Joyal’s oldest patient so far was 98, and her youngest patient was only three months at the time of treatment.

“I hope to bring health and wellness education,” explained Joyal about the goal for her practice.

“Providing treatment so that a person can improve their quality of life by reducing pain from injuries through massage therapy. I want people to know they don’t have to ‘deal with’ the pain they have. There are options and treatment.”

Treatments are very patient specific, and range from $55 to $107. However, Joyal encourages her patients to check their extended medical for coverage and also notes that certain MSP beneficiaries are eligible to receive $23 per visit for an annual limit of 10 visits each calendar year.

Joyal also sells health and wellness products such as ConcenTrace, an electrolyte supplement and Ortho Flex, a muscle and joint ointment.

Although stiffness and soreness are often afflictions that lead people to seek out a massage therapist, Joyal uses massage to treat a wide variety of ailments.

“Common issues massage therapy can also help with are headaches, sprains, strains, muscle spasm, post-surgery scar tissue, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and many more,” said Joyal.

In some cases, a person may stop treatment because they have reached a point of recovery where they are no longer in pain. In other instances, a patient may feel less pain and an improved sense of wellness between treatments. For Joyal, this is the goal, and her favourite part of what she does.

“By far my favourite part is when I see the progress a patient has made with treatment and how happy they are to move without pain, or to not have had any headaches since the last treatment,” said Joyal.

“I find it very rewarding.”

Becoming a massage therapist is quite an undertaking, with several years of schooling required, as well as a commitment to continuing education.

“In BC, a student must complete a 2-year Registered Massage Therapy program, and the college must be one recognized by the College of Massage Therapists of BC,” explained Joyal.

“Once graduated from the program, three written exams and a practical exam are taken. You also have to have your criminal record check done every five years and First Aid renewed every three years. Once you become an RMT, you must maintain your Registration by completing Continuing Education courses every year as well.”

Joyal feels that the ongoing commitment is worth the rewards of the career, and encourages anyone interested in becoming a massage therapist to pursue the necessary education.

“You can take your career in any direction you want,” said Joyal.

“The Continuing Education courses you take are your choice. So, if you’re interested in prenatal, sports, post-surgery, geriatric, anything!  You can focus your massage therapy practice to what you’re most interested in. I find it very rewarding, helping people, and being a part of the Health Professionals field.”

Since most RMT’s are self-employed, there is also a high level of flexibility.

“Being self-employed allows me to set my hours and take holidays when I choose,” said Joyal.

“The pros outweigh the cons by far, for me at least.”