Boulder Daily Camera

Massage with a dot-com twist

By Erika Stutzman, Camera Business Writer, January 27, 2001

With online booking and expertise in what ails tech workers - who should know better than to hunch over their computers all day, but do it anyway - takes a modern approach to holistic health.

The Boulder-based company, recently moved into a building on Broadway, launched in 1997 with three message therapists as Corporate Health Systems.

The company changed its moniker in 1999, and designed a Web site - which now takes about 40 to 50 percent of the appointments, said Dirk McCuistion, MassageSpecialists founder.

"I'm also the CEO and janitor," he says, jokingly.

The company has grown to include 14 therapists, four business staff members, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist and a Rolfer. The company sees about 300 clients a week.

In addition to in-office visits, therapists will come to clients - whether it's a corporation's health fair, an on-site ergonomic training session, or a service for visitors to a bed-and-breakfast.

And the company's business is booming - McCuistion says he's eyeing a second office, perhaps in the Interlocken business park in Broomfield.

McCuistion was once a competitive cyclist, winning the silver medal in the 1988 U.S. National Championships. He came to Boulder in 1994 to study massage at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy.

He furthered his education specializing in neuromuscular massage at the St. Johns Therapy Institute based in Florida.

"(Boulder) is probably one of the most competitive markets for massage in the world," he said. He said MassageSpecialists has seen such robust growth "because we're technically superior."

"I hand-pick all the message therapists myself," he said. "Together, we are able to address a lot of problems."

Though the company offers everything from relaxing full-body massages to treating sports injuries, the practice's specialty is treating muscular stress that leads to repetitive stress injuries and cumulative trauma disorders - modern workplace epidemics.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said the number of recorded cases of CTDs has increased 1,443 percent from 1972 to 1997. The disorders cost billions to corporations and individuals in treatment costs.

From the start, the company specialized in the corporate environment. Customers include MatchLogic, National Business Media, and Level 3 Communications.

"We really started rolling in late 1998, with Quantum as one of our first clients," McCuistion said.

McCuistion said massage therapy isn't the only way his company addresses workplace problems - his staff can also educate workers and provide ergonomics consulting on-site.

Ricky Berger is a client of MassageSpecialists, and senior director of information technology at Qwest in Boulder.

"I see massage as a way to address my long-term health," said Berger, who has been a longtime client of McCuistion.

"I hired Dirk to do a seminar for a team of about 25 people on ergonomics - really to just teach everyone to understand the basics," Berger said.

Berger said he really thinks his associates got a lot out of the session.

"People loved it. And it was information that they didn't know, and that they'll keep with them their entire lives," he said. "Several immediately reorganized their workspaces."

"With many of these problems, massage therapy is one tool," McCuistion said. "It treats sub-acute health problems that are often not addressed in traditional medicine - and it has very observable results."

Contact Erika Stutzman at or (303) 473-1354.


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