Massage Hits Right Notes for Concert Violinist

by Jenna Jares

Karen Nelson picked up her first violin at the age of 10.  That was more than 50 years ago, and she’s hardly put it down since.

“Something inside of me needed to be expressed and I found that through the violin,” Karen said.

Karen is now a professional violinist for the Joffrey Ballet as well as the principal second violin for the Chicago Sinfonietta. When she began experiencing shoulder pain, her passion to play kept her performing.  Karen tried everything from regular massage to physical therapy in hopes to alleviate the pain. Nothing seemed to completely cure her discomfort.

In preparation for a performance Karen is likely to practice anywhere between one to seven hours daily. Being the dedicated violinist she is Karen continued her daily routine filled with practice and performances while enduring the pain in her shoulder.

Things took a turn for the worse when Karen awoke one morning to a completely non-functional shoulder. With a Joffrey performance that night, she knew something needed to be done immediately. In desperation, Karen searched for a massage therapist to make a miracle.

She knew there was an Elements Therapeutic Massage not far from her home so she picked up the phone and made the call. Asking for the best therapist available, Karen took the first appointment she could get.

The answer to her prayers was Mary Lou Soto. With 20 years of hands-on experience in the massage therapy profession, Mary Lou uses touch to help her clients heal, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually.

“My goal is not only to relieve the stress and strain of the body, but also to help clients reconnect with themselves on a deeper level and feel whole again once they come off the table,” Mary Lou said. 

Mary Lou attained her goal when Karen’s massage concluded and she left with no shoulder pain.

“Mary Lou took me from a non-functional shoulder to one that could withstand playing violin for a performance that evening,” said Karen.  “Magic!”

That night Karen made it through the performance pain-free, something that would have been impossible only seven hours prior. Since the massage with Mary Lou, Karen enjoys regular massage through the wellness program membership with the Elements Park Ridge studio. She realizes that massage is not a luxury but a necessity in order to live a healthy life. It is especially a necessity as she continues playing the violin.

Though her pain is not completely gone, Karen notices a great amount of relief after a massage with Mary Lou.

“Mary Lou is thoughtful because she is always looking for ideas to find a solution to my pain; it’s something I really appreciate,” said Karen.

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