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Massage Today
February, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 02

Lee Chaffee, LMT

By Claudette Laroche, RN, LMT, NCTMB and Lee Chaffee

Author's note: Professional of Note is a column devoted to recognizing individual practitioners and what they are contributing to the profession. Each article will highlight a unique feature of a practitioner's professional practice.

The purpose of the column is to take note of people who are not necessarily nationally known, but who make significant contributions to the field.

Lee Chaffee of Peterborough, New Hampshire is known to massage therapists throughout the state as a trailblazer in the business of on-site seated massage. With a great reputation for quality service over the past 16 years, Lee focuses on taking her hands and heart, along with her table and/or chair, to clients at their home or work. Lee is state-licensed in NH; nationally certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork; and a member of the AMTA, holding a specialization in event sports massage.

Hand position for Lee's Russian Method of Seated Massage. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Hand position for Lee's Russian Method of Seated Massage. Referring to the massage technique she created, known as Lee's Portal Hands, Lee says, "I created a unique protocol for doing seated massage by exploring ways to prevent repetitive pain patterns on myself." Injuries to her thumbs and wrists from a previous profession were a motivating factor in her quest to prevent further injuries for herself and other therapists. "As far as I know, I'm an innovator of seated massage in New Hampshire, and 10 years ago I was the first one to make a living solely on seated massage."

She has provided massage to hundreds of people in major businesses at Bell Atlantic (now Verizon Phone) and Digital Computer (now Compaq), as well as at a local hospital, and real estate, computer and medical offices.

As is the case with many of us in the profession, "word-of-mouth" promotion can be attested by many of Lee's clients. Patsy Franklin from Auburn, NH, says: "A colleague told me to see Lee when she was doing on-site seated massage at Compaq. I was 34 weeks pregnant and could not stand up straight due to sciatic pressure. After Lee massaged my side and lower back, I started feeling much better, and continued to do so with regular visits. Now it's been eight years, including another pregnancy, since she started providing me regular massage in my home."

Lee developed her sequence, which she calls "Lee's Russian Method of Seated Massage," based on techniques learned through her study with educators teaching the Russian methods. Russian techniques require minimal use of the thumbs. By incorporating the use of the dorsal side of the hand against the surface of the client's body, along with using a fixed wrist and fingers, and providing the thrust of movement from the therapist's shoulder, the wrist remains in neutral position most of the time.

When working on clients, Lee initially follows a choreographed sequence that lasts 25 minutes. As she gets to know the client, she will vary her patterns to suit the needs of the person. Lee explains: "I also incorporate my neutral hand technique into my table massage, so I'm able to continue to work without experiencing the pain symptoms I had several years ago. It's important when practitioners start out to be mindful of their own body, to keep a repetitive pain syndrome from slowing or ending their career."

Lee has a creative approach to educating all her clients about a simple self-help tool, while combining it with the marketing strategy of getting her name out there. Clients appreciate receiving what has become Lee's trademark gift: two tennis balls encased in a stockinet sleeve that has been imprinted with her business name and tied with a bow. As client Patsy Franklin says, "After my pregnancy, she taught me to roll the tennis balls under my feet and in the lumbar and buttock areas to help relieve pressure points."

Application of Lee's Russian Method of Seated Massage. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
Left and right: application of Lee's Russian Method of Seated Massage.

These days, Lee has a varied professional massage schedule. To make time for developing and balancing other massage-related venues, she limits her seated massage to about 10 hours per week. Consequently, she has expanded her professional skills into education, as an instructor of Russian seated massage in an area massage school. During the past several years, she has developed her business and marketing acumen from "trial and error" to fine-tune and market her teaching video on Russian seated massage. Lee's current focus (and source of "a great deal of professional satisfaction") is presenting workshops on Russian seated massage and demonstrating her seated massage technique at massage seminars and conventions.

Click here for previous articles by Claudette Laroche, RN, LMT, NCTMB.


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