While some let their fingers do the walking, massage therapist Diane Munson uses her natural talent and lets her hands do the talking.
“I always just had a healing touch in my hands,” said Munson, who left her corporate job after being miserable and, at the urging of others, earned her certification in massage therapy in 1990. “I get out of my head and into my hands.”
Munson began her career in massage therapy in the fast-paced city of Albuquerque, N.M., but was drawn to the mountains, particularly to the area near Wolf Creek, where she and her husband purchased land in Pagosa Country and found themselves not wanting to leave. It began as a parcel of land to camp on and, over time, the couple built a house and faced a decision — Albuquerque or Pagosa Springs.
“It’s a no brainer,” Munson said. The couple sold their house in Albuquerque and, with their son, moved to Pagosa full time in 2004.
With her, Munson brought her healing hands and opened SWEET (Southwest Empowerment, Education and Therapy), a therapeutic massage business that not only helps residents and visitors relax, but helps improve their overall wellness.
Similar to the way chiropractors fought for respect for their craft, Munson said massage therapy has gone from being associated with the red-light district to being a “very qualified, respected health modality,” sought out by residents as well as vacationers.
While she often sees tourists who receive massages once a year, while on vacation, Munson believes that even residents should let themselves be those on vacation from time to time (at least once a month, she recommends), treating themselves to relaxation and a chance to slow down and get away from their to-do lists.
“Massage therapy isn’t just a vacation,” she says. “It’s also a good health maintenance program — that feels really good.”
For Munson, the primary purpose of therapeutic massage is to maintain wellness, she believes she can also serve a role similar to that of a car mechanic who knows a car, where the therapist learns about a client’s body and can sometimes notice changes in health before a patient can.
“It’s one of those beautiful things like chocolate, where it not only feels good, it’s good for you,” Munson said, adding that she charges minimally more for 90-minute massages versus an hour, because she doesn’t want to support the “hurry up and relax” lifestyle.
And if you show up to SWEET and see a sign on the door that says, “It’s snowing! We’re on the mountain,” don’t be surprised — Munson has to relax, too, after all, and she sees Wolf Creek as part of her wellness program.
But don’t fret: Munson often schedules appointments for after the ski day or the next day to treat those whose wellness also includes winter recreation.