Massages treat body, soul

 

Feb. 5, 2014

By Jacqueline Schaefer

 

Massage therapist Tom Lightfield is a busy man. Not only does he live on a small farm and work from his house, Lightfield also spends two days per week at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Lightfield works in the University Health and Counseling Services on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., giving massages to college students.

Tom Lightfield
Tom Lightfield

“I call in late Tuesday and Thursday to see how many massages I have the next day,” Lightfield said. “I can give up to eight in a day.”

The Burlington native currently resides about 26 miles away. Lightfield said he won’t come in unless he has at least two massages scheduled.

Lightfield’s massages range anywhere from 15 to 75 minutes long. A 15-minute massage is a chair massage, and the rest are on the table.

A typical day at UW-W for Lightfield begins with setting up his massage room.  He makes sure the table is ready, begins the music and puts all the laundry away. After each massage he must wash his hands and change the linens.

Lightfield began massage school almost ten years ago because of his wife.

“I used to raise animals, but eventually we couldn’t compete with corporate farms,” Lightfield said. “After we got rid of them, my wife encouraged me to go to massage school.”

Lightfield attended the Wisconsin Institute of Natural Wellness in Racine and completed its 10-month program. Lightfield graduated with 17 others and first started working in Racine.

“Before I worked here I worked in Racine, but that dried up in a hurry,” Lightfield said. “This is the start of my fifth year here.”

Before coming to Whitewater, Lightfield struggled to find a job.

“I saw an ad in the Walworth County Advertiser for Whitewater,” Lightfield said. “Where I live, there are a lot of spas around, but they wouldn’t hire me, so I went for it.”

Lightfield said he enjoys his job, especially getting to meet all different types of people.

“I have massaged people from every continent except Antarctica,” Lightfield said. “When you get people from all over, it’s really interesting talking about how they view us.”

Lightfield said communication is important when giving a massage.

“You have to communicate about pressure, especially if I’m doing something they don’t like,” Lightfield said. “I will have people who will never say a word and some that will talk the whole time.”

Aside from getting to talk to others, massage therapy has physical benefits Lightfield said.

“Massages are very good for easing stress,” Lightfield said. “They help relax and help you sleep better. Giving them helps me sleep better.”

Although he can help, Lightfield is not a doctor and cannot diagnose illness.

“When people come in with a problem, I cannot diagnose them,” Lightfield said. “If they know what’s wrong, I can help them, but I legally cannot say what’s wrong with them.”

When not at UW-W, Lightfield said he enjoys splitting wood, hunting, cross country skiing and taking walks with his dog and his wife. Lightfield also has a massage business out of his house.

“It’s really not that different to work from home,” Lightfield said. “I have to make sure everything is clean, but it’s more relaxed because I give massages to people I know.”

Massage therapy also has taught Lightfield some life lessons.

“Before I was accepted, I didn’t really consider myself a caring person,” Lightfield said. “But massage teaches that you have to have empathy and care about other people because the clients can tell.”

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