Elena Vans Evers, is a Licensed Massage Therapist, yoga instructor, and owner of Urban Zen Bodywork in Tampa, Florida. She is a graduate of Florida Career College with a diploma in Massage Therapy and has been practicing since 2007.
Elena specializes in deep-tissue massage, sports massage, prenatal massage, Reiki/energy work, Thai-Yoga massage, Ashiatsu- Fusion massage, Reflexology, and Chi Nei Tsang. Elena's clients include professional athletes, physicians, and those with chronic pain.
In this episode, Elena shares her experiences with treating physicians and gives us three things that can help populations live long.
Elena is a firm believer in the inseparable connection between body, mind, and spirit. Her mission and passion are to support each individual to enhance their overall health and well-being.
Welcome to the Practice Impossible podcast! Where your host, Jude Pierre MD, also known as Coach JPMD, discusses medical practice topics that will guide you through the maze that is the business of medicine, and teach you how to increase profits and help populations live long. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to listen and be transformed! Now, here's your host, Coach JPMD.
Coach JPMD: 0:24
Hello! Thank you for listening to my podcast, Practice Impossible. And today, we have the pleasure of speaking to Elena, who happens to be my massage therapist. And we'll be discussing and having conversation about massage therapy and self care and how it's important for us as physicians to really care for ourselves. And I'm a firm believer now, after going through some traumas in life, and just life experiences that have led me to truly believe that in order to take care of our population, we really need to take care of ourselves. And as an athlete, as a former athlete, and currently playing soccer again, it's been really important for me to recover from sports injuries and just being active. I'm no longer 20 years old anymore, and sometimes things ache. And I find that massage therapy has really helped me in transforming the way I've been living my life. And I'm so happy to have a conversation with Elena. So here we go. We're here with Elena Vans Evers.
Elena Vans Evers: 1:27
Coach JPMD: 1:27
You know what? I always mess that up. Is it Vans Eavers or Vans... help me out here.
Elena Vans Evers: 1:36
Try to spell that when you're booking anything on the phone. I always prepare somebody. Vans, like the shoes, and then Evers.
Coach JPMD: 1:44
Well welcome, Elena! I'm just going to say Elena. We're so excited to have you on the podcast today and talking about massage therapy. And as a licensed massage therapist, I'll let you introduce yourself and tell us who you are and what made you go into massage. And then we can delve a little bit deeper into as to how you think physicians should be getting massages regularly.
Elena Vans Evers: 2:09
Oh, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm very honored to be a part of your podcast. I started massage therapy training 14 years ago. And I think what introduced me to it, originally, was I started working at a chiropractor's office when I was 18. And I never knew what vitamins were, well, you know, my mom probably tried to make me to the real awful ones. You know, the Flintstone ones when I was little, but just really learned about, through that experience, really learned about how people started feeling better naturally. I was seeing with my own eyes, you know, people walking into the office to get a massage or adjustment or whatever. And they felt so much better. And that really interested me. So I went to school and became a massage therapist.
Coach JPMD: 3:03
When did you actually become a massage therapist?
Elena Vans Evers: 3:06
Coach JPMD: 3:09
Okay. And at that time, did you have family? And was it a business that you started? Or how did you... or what was going on in your life around that time?
Elena Vans Evers: 3:19
I...probably... Yeah I mean, my whole family lives here in Florida, luckily. So they were my guinea pigs happily for the time that I went through school. And then I actually came out and started working at a spa. And that's where I started. And then I just went from different locations, really trying to find myself as a therapist, and what I wanted. And while the spa atmosphere is nice, it's not, it never clicked right with me. So I started working in gyms and acupuncture offices and really gravitated towards a wellness lifestyle versus a luxury or, you know, something you do to pamper yourself. I knew that my work was more than that.
Coach JPMD: 4:08
And so you just mentioned wellness lifestyle. What do you mean by that? You see this as part of a wellness program? Or how do you see massage fit into wellness?
Elena Vans Evers: 4:21
I see massage fitting into wellness as something that is a necessity, right? Of course, I'm going to be a little biased, but it it helps with being aware of your body. You know, I... every day someone gets on to say well, "I'm feeling... I'm feeling good... maybe just a little tight in that lower back" and then I start massaging their traps and their hamstrings and they really start to notice "Oh wow, I really am tight! I really am, you know, limited on my range of motion" and stuff and just bringing awareness to their body and creating more of an appeal, hopefully to me, being a part of a puzzle piece of someone's wellness program.
Coach JPMD: 5:06
And so, what part do you find most exciting about massage? I mean, I know that there are different modalities. There's a Swedish massage and there's deep tissue. And I know that I've done some sports massages with you, and it's been pretty painful, but what do you find as being the most beneficial in in terms of bodywork?
Elena Vans Evers: 5:31
You know, this is a very controversial topic amongst massage therapists, because some people will actually say that, going very light, that you don't have to go deep is beneficial. And then some people "Oh, no, you got to go deep. You got to get in there". Personally, I, I love deep tissue. My sessions aren't just deep tissue, it's a mix of who I am. And what I've been practicing, as a massage therapist for, you know, over a decade. Which is, I add a little bit of Thai massage and stretching because I'm a yoga teacher. So there's deep tissue with a combination of different modalities. So probably more on the deeper end, but also stretching and opening.
Coach JPMD: 6:20
Yeah, and so, I know that I, you know, it took me a while to get to the point where actually, I could feel comfortable saying that I go to a massage therapist, because, you know, I find that there's a stigma behind massage. And how do you deal with that stigma of the unprofessional places that you know, people speak about? And how do you deal with that? And how do you market yourself in a different way to attract people that are actually looking to have this be part of their self care and wellness program?
Elena Vans Evers: 6:53
You know, educating people one by one. Yeah, of course, every time I meet somebody, they're like, "Oh, you're a massage therapist?" You know, I always get the "happy ending" joke. And so it's just, you know, I used to get really mad about it. And now I'm just like, well, you just need to be educated that you're actually insulting my profession. But I also think that today, a lot of people, they want to be healthy. And massage therapy is really growing out of that stigma, and really coming into something where it's not a luxury, or, you know, the "Places off Kennedy", so to speak. I think more and more people, through being educated, are learning that there's more to massage then just, you know, feeling good. There's a lot of benefits to it.
Coach JPMD: 7:43
Yeah, and I know the benefits myself. I think one of the things that I have gone through in the past seven, eight years is just learning self care. And I think physicians in general, tend to put themselves second or third in line in caring for themselves. And I know I actually started getting regular haircuts a couple years ago. I used to get a haircut whenever I wanted to, whenever I felt like I needed to. And you know? Now I get a haircut every two weeks, which I never did before. And I think it's the same thing with massage. I think I see you almost every every month. And I try too, because I'm still playing sports, and I'm still trying to stay active in soccer, and I get injured. But I find that when I go to massage therapy, then I feel better. So do you have any athletes that you treat? Or do you do treat physicians? What's your client base?
Elena Vans Evers: 8:37
Man, my client base is an array of people for sure. I do treat professional athletes, mainly baseball players. They're really interesting. A lot of people. They really are in tune with themselves. They really know where their aches and pains are. They know where I can focus and kind of gear the massage session. I do have doctors and you know, stay at home moms, and parents, and everything in between. I definitely see a variety of individuals.
Coach JPMD: 9:17
So tell me about your doctor clients. Obviously, we're going to maintain confidentiality, but what do you find is the the pitfalls that doctors have? Or the things that doctors are struggling with? In terms of taking care of themselves?
Elena Vans Evers: 9:34
Hmm. How much time do we have?
Coach JPMD: 9:38
However much time you need. How's that?
Elena Vans Evers: 9:42
Um, you know, what I find the most with my clients who are doctors, are they are wound up. I have one doctor who flies in here like he's like flying into the ER. You know, it's almost like they can't bring it down a level. And, you know, for the first 20 minutes of the massage, they're normally like, you know, asking me questions, sometime answering their own questions. It's hard to kind of bring them down, you know, and get that nervous response out of that flight system, right? And get them to actually relax and to ground them a little bit, which is, you know, a little difficult, but it's easy to do once someone gets comfortable with me. It's easy to kind of, bring them down a little bit, and just to get them to relax. And that way, I can get into the massage and get in. It's not uncomfortable, but that's probably the biggest thing that I see with doctors.
Coach JPMD: 10:46
And I think we both know that massage does help with reducing stress and anxiety, reducing pain, and improving circulation. So you know, I did some research on on it. And, you know, why is it that physicians don't go to this modality more? Why do you think that is? And you know, we have high performing athletes who go to massage therapy regularly. They have their own personal trainers. They have their their own set of crew that actually helped them to perform at a highest level. Why do you think that is?
Elena Vans Evers: 11:22
I, this is great. We can talk about Tom Brady, right? I mean, everybody, the entire football world is fixated on what this 43 year old can accomplish. Seven Super Bowls? I'm not a huge, huge football fan, but something that really stuck out to me during this process is he gave so much credit to the guy Alex who just takes care of his body. He accredits a lot of his longevity in his career, to the person who, I mean, it's a piece or part of the puzzle, right? Is you know, massage, and nutrition, and working out. But he gives a lot of admiration towards the person, Alex, who takes care of his body, and he's getting massages every week. And, you know, I think I said this before, I think doctors are like high performing athletes. And I wish that they would treat their bodies a little bit more like it. Not even just for massage, but you know, all the other parts that go with it.
Coach JPMD: 12:28
And I think if they're not healthy themselves, I think this is one of my... one of my missions. And that's why, you know, you're here to help bring awareness to how we can take care of our bodies better in order to serve our patients better. I think that's something that I've noticed that I'm able to play soccer at a not so high level, but at a level where I can play once or twice a week and still be able to come to work the next day. I remember when I first started playing soccer again, a couple years ago, my staff... my team members would know when I played, because I'd be limping the next day. But since doing some of the things that you've suggested, from foam rollers, to stretching exercises, and massage therapy, it's definitely helped and I certainly see a huge difference.
Elena Vans Evers: 13:18
It's a great preventative. Yeah, it's a great... it's a great way to prevent that injury. You know, because like I said, earlier, you become more aware of your body. So when, if you keep your body on the looser end, you feel when that hamstring starts to get a little tight. You feel when that bicep feels a little, just a little tense. You know? You feel those pecks and you start to feel things you're like, "Oh, well, it's time to go in for that massage" and make sure we keep everything loose and yeah.
Coach JPMD: 13:51
Yeah. So we touched on massage, we touched on self care. Tell me about cupping because I did some research on cupping and I know that you're a big fan of of cupping. And I sometimes don't like to get it done, because I look like a cyborg afterwards but, tell me how that helps in self care and what you feel are the benefits of that.
Elena Vans Evers: 14:21
Cupping is a great myofascial release, in my opinion. You know, there isn't a lot of studies on it, because I think that you know, the science world probably wants to study other stuff. But it most definitely is a myofascial release. I always tell my clients, think of each cup as a concentrated stretch and you're, you know, pulling up that fascia and creating that stretch. And then when the cups come off, you know, the fascia starts to unwind and really start to release toxins and increased blood flow as well.
Coach JPMD: 14:58
Sure, so maybe we went a little deeper then some of our audience might even understand. But can you describe what cupping is?
Elena Vans Evers: 15:07
So there's different forms of cupping. The one that I do, because I actually incorporate it in most of my sessions, and I only have an hour or 90 minutes or you know, I don't have a lot of time. So the form that I use is the plastic cups. And you know, I create, I put the cup on to the back and create the suction with a hand suction cup, and it creates like this pulling into the cup. Now you have fire cupping, which is the same thing, but they use heat and the fire to create the suction. And those are normally done with glass cups.
Coach JPMD: 15:43
Okay. And is that something that originated in the Far East or West?
Elena Vans Evers: 15:50
That is from China. I mean, they have been let... I mean, massage, is a 5000 year old modality. And along the way, you know, the Egyptians created the reflexology, and it keeps evolving. Cupping and what you hear these days, that skin scraping... those are all from modalities from China. So Eastern medicine. Can I say that?
Coach JPMD: 16:23
Yes, you can. We can say whatever we want here. So, Elena, as we we've talked about several different topics, what do you think are, let's say three things that you feel physicians can do to help populations live long?
Elena Vans Evers: 16:44
I feel like physicians can start by working on themselves, learning for themselves, how beneficial it is to get a regular massage. To actually take the time out for yourself to come in, get the massage, you kind of fill your cup back up. You know? And I kind of feel like a lot of people run with their cup on empty. And for physicians, in my opinion, to better themselves will only better their careers and create more longevity instead of more burnout.
Coach JPMD: 17:29
Amen to that!
Elena Vans Evers: 17:31
The second thing is, you know, taking time every day, even if you can't come in for that massage. Create a gym bag, per se, or a backpack that you probably bring in to work with you anyways, with your computer notes and whatnot. You know? Within that bag, put some tools in there. So bring a lacrosse ball. Bring a short foam roller that you know people travel with. And in between breaks, if you're feeling you know, tense and tight, you can just throw the foam roller on a yoga mat in the break room and use that to do some self care that way. You know? 15 minutes a day would probably be just enough.
Coach JPMD: 18:21
It's interesting you say that because I'm looking at my room right now. And I have a foam roller standing up and a yoga mat on the ground. And every time I feel a tweak in my back, I'm finding myself getting to the foam roller and I know that it helps. I played soccer last week and I kind of pulled my hamstring in the middle of the game. And I stopped playing and they were like, "No, no, what are you doing? You're leaving the game early?" I say, "Well, you know what? I feel something in my leg". I went home and did the stretch and now my leg feels better. So I totally hear what you're saying there. Sorry to interrupt.
Elena Vans Evers: 18:50
No, I, I'm glad to hear that. If I can give anything to this podcast, is just, if you can't make it to the massage as often as you would like, which I hope that you can, at least give yourself that chance to create a good new healthy habit. Put the tools in your bag, you know, have it with you. You roll out on the foam roller, use the tennis ball, manipulate your soft tissue. I mean, we all, you know do. And then the third thing is stretching. Getting down and closing your eyes. There's so much research on breathing. And there's endless research on just breath and breath is free! And I see that a lot with doctors. They are very short breathers, and being a yoga teacher for over 10 years, I'm teaching people how to breathe all over again. And creating that breath. Bringing that, you know, extra oxygen into the blood relaxes your shoulders. It brings you down. It, you know, brings... it brings everything down. It calms you down. So this is something that is, again, to put in your tool bag. You can go get a massage. You can have self care tools that you just throw in your backpack with you. And when you really need a little downtime, just sit in an office chair. If you have to close your eyes and take, you know, 10 deep breaths, it changes everything.
Coach JPMD: 20:33
That's wonderful, wonderful advice. You know, Elena, this has been a great, great discussion. Great conversation. I know that this will be helpful to many physicians out there. And how can people find you? How can we find you, if they want to get a massage from you in Tampa?
Elena Vans Evers: 20:55
You can visit my website,
//www.urbanzenbodywork.com. Honestly, the best way to reach me is through my cell phone. That's the direct line. And I like people to have the direct line to me. I like to create those relationships and that, you know, accountability. And I like to be able to reach out to you after your massage and say "Hey, how are you feeling"? You know? You need me to send you some stretches or a five minute yoga video? So that's really the best way. And my phone number is my cell phone on my website. So that's a great way to reach out to me or email as well.
Coach JPMD: 21:32
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Elena. So, so happy to have you on the podcast. Thank you.
Elena Vans Evers: 21:37
Thank you so much for having me. I'm very passionate about massage. Very passionate about helping people. And that's something that I think I have in common with physicians, is we both like to help people, and we have to make sure that we're taking care of ourselves so that we can continue to do that.
Coach JPMD: 21:58
Thank you again.
Elena Vans Evers: 22:00
Coach JPMD: 22:01
What a terrific conversation with Elena. She has been a wonderful help in my journey in transforming the way I take care of myself and I hope that this will be an inspiration to you to perform some of the self care tips that she recommended. Also, don't forget to visit www.practiceimpossible.com for additional resources and show notes. And don't forget to subscribe, and look out for some new episodes coming soon.