Escaping midterm stress

Massage therapist Isabel Pla offers her services at the Wellness Center, which include Swedish and deep-tissue, accupuncture, as well as trigger point therapy and neuromuscular therapy. Brittney Bomnin//The Miami Hurricane

Massage therapist Isabel Pla offers her services at the Wellness Center, which include Swedish and deep-tissue, accupuncture, as well as trigger point therapy and neuromuscular therapy. Brittney Bomnin//The Miami Hurricane

From scrambling to finish class projects to cramming for exams, the pressure mounts quickly for students at the University of Miami.

With midterms looming, the massage therapy program at the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center offers students a calming escape, complete with dimmed lights and soothing music.

Here, the expert massage therapists are skilled at relieving student’s stressed, tight muscles.

“The massage program started 16 years ago, when the Wellness Center first opened,” assistant director Ashley Falcon said. “Massages fall in line with wellness and how, as an individual, you should make yourself your top priority and control your stress levels.”

School issues, current surroundings, health and social situations can all trigger stress. If not dealt with properly, stress can lead to painful tension in muscles.

“The students we see have a lot of tension in their neck and shoulders and the legs sometimes too, if they are runners,” Isabel Pla, one of the three massage therapists at the Wellness Center, said.

Pla has been doing massage therapy for five years, giving six to 10 massages daily. She also notes how the middle of the back and forearms hold a great deal of tension, resulting from daily activities like typing and writing.

“The tension comes from trigger points, which are similar to knots,” Pla said. “When the muscle is short instead of long, and very tight instead of loose, it makes a knot. This can lead to migraines and a lot of pain in the muscles.”

Senior Christine Bouchard has received two or three massages in past years, though not at the Wellness Center.

“I would get massages because I was stressed out and would get really bad migraine headaches,” Bouchard said. “Reading probably caused some of my problem. You bend your neck a lot, which can give you really bad tension.”

Junior Paul Rabut relieved his pain through two or three massage sessions at the Wellness Center.

“I had back and neck pain from playing the drums and having bad posture…staying in one position for too long and not moving around.” Rabut said. “I definitely have stress from classes too, it has an effect. Mental stress translates into physical stress; it’s all tied together.”

The program is not just for students; it is also open to faculty, staff, Wellness Center members and even those in the local community who are not members.

The massage therapists at the Wellness Center work with clients to meet their needs, using combinations of different massage techniques.

A 50-minute session typically works your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck and shoulders. The program also offers a 25-minute option, which focuses on a few key areas of the body.

Long, broad strokes are used in addition to deep kneading to eliminate especially tight knots caused by stress.

“Massage is a great stress reliever,” said Melissa Jurado, the assistant director of group exercise and instructional programs at the Wellness Center. “All the attention is on you, and your relaxation and relieving your stress.”

Danielle Kaslow may be contacted at

October 8, 2009


Danielle Kaslow

Senior EDGE Writer

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Escaping midterm stress”

  1. marty says:

    I could really use some wellness escapes right now. This sounds so inviting.

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

University of Miami linebacker Jamie Gordinier has had another unfortunate setback, effectively side ...

The calmest coach on the planet got mad Friday after football practice. University of Miami coach Ma ...

Lester Williams wasn’t on the field playing for the Miami Hurricanes when they won their first natio ...

An extremely frustrated University of Miami football coach Mark Richt began his media availability b ...

UM chatter: • One lesson learned in recent years, as one UM official put it: Don’t get your hopes up ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

Through the U Dreamers Grant, DACA students find essential support as they pursue their college degr ...

UM students talk about their internships up north in a city that never sleeps. ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.