Indiana State University Newsroom

Massage therapy program helps students gain skills, relieves stress for patients

October 17, 2012

Mary Theisen lay face down on a blue vinyl-covered table. Low lighting contributed to a relaxed atmosphere as David Roos massaged her back, helping relieve the day's tension. Just as Theesen was about to fall asleep, Roos stopped.

"During the massage I felt relaxed and parts of it hurt but it felt good at the same time," said Theisen, a senior at Indiana State University and a thrower for the Sycamore track and field team. "When the massage ended, I could tell a big difference and it relieved a lot of pain."

Theisen is just one of a growing number of people who have taken advantage of free massages offered by students in Indiana State's massage therapy program.

The free massages are available for students, faculty, staff or people in the Terre Haute community.

"Students are really getting a better understanding how massage can make a big difference in how people feel and move," said Charlie Peebles, coordinator of the program in the department of applied medicine and rehabilitation. "I'm very excited about the opportunity I have to bring therapeutic massage here to ISU."

Peebles owned his own salon and spa before going into massage therapy. He has been a massage therapist for more than 12 years, with state and national certifications. He has been teaching for more than 10 years. Peebles received his training from the Florida College of Natural Health and is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association.

Though the program has been offering the free massages for only a few weeks, it is already attracting regulars who are seeing positive impact.

"I come to this because after a good workout it just feels a lot better and after they stretch you, you just feel so much more flexible. I can feel my muscles recovering," said ISU senior Joel Mathews.

"I come to this event because it is convenient for me," said Theisen.

Not only does the event help students and athletes, it also helps the students learning massage therapy.

"Since my major is in athletic training, I decided to get a minor in massage therapy because they both go hand in hand," said junior Jeff Voiles. "We do the free massage event so we can get more practice and to fill our clinical hours."Peebles said being a massage therapist is not an easy job.

"It is physically demanding. The main key is to get yourself positioned right where you use only your weight and legs," he said.

Peebles brought massage therapy to Indiana State while he was teaching at Ivy Tech Community College. He contacted ISU's athletic training department about doing clinical work with athletes.

The university shut the program down to revamp it but several athletes wanted the massage therapists to come back and university officials contacted Peebles about teaching classes at Indiana State. It took about a year to gain approval for the massage therapy minor program, but now there are 16 students in the class and most of them are majoring in athletic training.

"Having a minor in massage therapy works well with athletic training because they can help athletes recover from injuries by relieving stress and creating blood and fluid flow throughout the body," said Peebles.

Free massages are offered every Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. and Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Sycamore Center for Wellness and Applied Medicine, 530 N. Fifth Street in Terre Haute. Appointments may be made at the Athletic Training/Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation Clinic or by calling 812-237-8232.

Photo: - David Roos, a junior athletic training major and massage therapy minor from Rockport, works a patient's metatarsal and cuneiform bones for joint mobility during a free massage therapy clinic at Indiana State University. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Photo: - Anna Stoermann, a junior athletic training major and massage therapy minor from Wheatfield, prepares to work on a patient's calf during a free massage therapy clinic at Indiana State University. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: Charlie Peebles, massage therapy coordinator, department of applied medicine and rehabilitation, Indiana State University, 765-832-2250 or

Writer: Beth Pickerill, media relations assistant, 812-237-3773 or