The 3-Minute Interview: Tam Gelman

DC,Kristen Byrne

The holidays are a time for family -- and that often means a time for stress, too. Gelman is interim co-director of the Potomac Massage Training Institute, a nonprofit massage therapy school in Bethesda. She graduated from PMTI in 2002 and now teaches there while managing her private practice in Maryland.

What does the PMTI offer?

We offer a 600-hour program in massage therapy training. It's an 18-month part-time program. Our philosophy is you can teach anyone to give a massage in 6 to 12 months, but you need to teach how to maintain a good therapeutic presence. ... We also run a clinic with three different levels including student, graduate and professional. The general public can come to the school and receive treatment at a price point below the market.

What are the health benefits to massages?

They can enhance circulation; improve joint and muscle function and flexibility; treat injuries and chronic pain; improve posture; enhance athletic ability; increase body awareness and clear the mind.

What should first timers look for in a massage therapist?

You want to make sure the therapist is licensed and certified. You should also check if they are a member of the American Massage Therapy Association or the Associated Bodyworks and Massage Professionals, because these organizations set a high industry standard of professionalism and ethics.

What methods can people use on themselves to relieve stress?

Massage can be very comforting. You can gently stroke your hands, feet, face, neck or shoulders. These are all areas where we carry our stress. Getting a massage can also be a good way to de-stress for the holidays.

What should people know before they get a massage?

Do not come in when you are sick or if you feel like you're getting sick. A massage can make a cold worse, so it's best to wait until you feel healthy.

Kristen Byrne

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