Susan Clark says education is the key to a perfect massage

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Susan Clark is all about education.

When her Clark Bodywork Therapies clients visit her, she shares her treatments on an oversized muscle chart on her wall.

“I show them where muscles connect and why I worked the areas,” Clark says. “A lot of people who have low back pain have super tight psoas and illiacus muscles, which are in the pelvic region. They’re amazed at how their low back pain has diminished or is gone after I’ve worked those muscles.

“I work the deep core muscles that are often missed.”

Clark, a board-certified, licensed massage therapist, is a member of American Massage Therapy Association and a 2004 graduate of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, specializing in therapeutic massage.

Clark, who works out of her Cave Creek home, says one patient’s chiropractor suggested she have an MRI because she wasn’t improving. After her first treatment with Clark, she started feeling better.

“She could walk normal again. It’s so gratifying. I love doing this work.” she says. “When the psoas muscles are tight, it affects low back pain and posture.”

Clark decided to pursue a career in massage in 2003, when she was 49. She attended Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe.

“It’s something I had been thinking about for a while,” Clark says.

“I was tired of working in the corporate world. I thought I could be working for myself. I worked in research and development and saw how the FDA worked. Drugs have their place; however, I think people end up using them chronically. It’s causing degeneration rather than regeneration.

I always had a passion for exercising, working out and weightlifting. I was a speed skater when I was younger in Chicago. I also loved horseback riding and owned my own horses. If a horseback rider wants to improve their riding, a massage is excellent for that. If someone is tense, the horse can feel it. The gait may not be as smooth because the rider is stiff.”

For patients’ first appointments, Clark offers a consultation, during which she describes pain and referral pain.

“A lot of people say, ‘I just want you to focus on this one particular area where it hurts,’” Clark says. “They could be hurting in a localized area, but the pain can actually be referred from another area. I usually tell them I’ll do a full-body massage but focus on the area of concern.”

When she founded Clark Bodywork Therapies, she quickly learned that people don’t always understand the connotation “deep tissue massage.”

“They think that deep tissue has to hurt,” Clark says. “I try to explain to them there’s so much involved in deep tissue therapy.”

“We have fascia that runs through our body like a three-dimensional web. The purpose of the fascia is to hold each individual muscle together. If the fascia is tight it becomes ‘sticky’ and the muscles can’t glide against each other. I work the fascia first and then go into the deeper muscle tissue. In doing that, I can get into the deeper tissue without excruciating pain. It’s more like a ‘good hurt,’ where the client feels like something is being accomplished and there is healing and relaxation involved. There are ways to make it less painful by slowing down the stroke, stopping at a trigger point and holding it while the tightness relaxes or ‘dissolves.’”

“When my clients tell me ‘That’s a good hurt,’ that’s wonderful. When they start tensing up, it’s counterproductive. They’re tensing their muscles and undoing the therapy work.”

Besides deep tissue massage, her services include Swedish massage, manual lymphatic drainage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage and reiki. For deep tissue issue and Swedish massages, her prices are $45 for 30 minutes, $60 for 60 minutes and $85 for 90 minutes. For pricing on other modalities, visit

For products, she uses all-natural creams and oils that don’t have harmful additives or parabens. She also uses high-quality essential oils to enhance the massage.   

Susan Clark, LMT, NCBTMB

Clark Bodywork Therapies


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