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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

Community Spotlight: Manage Your September Stress with the Benefits of Massage

by Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer 


As this final month of summer transitions into the first whispers of autumn, life is accelerating at a busy, hectic pace. Children are back in school and extra-curricular activities. Adults are balancing their job and family obligations. Calendars are full to the brim with piano lessons, soccer games, work projects, household chores, the list goes on.  

It’s no wonder that stress levels tend to peak more in September than most other times of year (Google Misery Index). But if you feel stretched in numerous directions right now, physical and mental relief is available. In this month’s Community Spotlight, I want to introduce you to one of Southwest Florida’s newest massage therapy practices and an extension of Sandhill Healing Center, located in the Port Charlotte area. 

To learn more about what this massage therapy clinic has to offer, I spoke with Dr. Cecilia “Cheech” Hill, DOM, AP, CCT (MA13356), who owns Sandhill Healing Center. As a Licensed Massage Therapist herself, Dr. Hill was quick to answer my questions and share her insights on just how beneficial this modality can be for relaxation, stress management, pain alleviation and health overall. Please enjoy our conversation below:             


Natural Awakenings: When will this new massage therapy branch open its doors?  

Dr. Cheech Hill: It is with so much excitement and pleasure that the former massage therapists from Bayfront Health in Punta Gorda will be joining our team at Sandhill Healing Center. We are currently accepting massage appointments while our expansion facility is under construction, and we anticipate the official grand opening this fall.  

NA: What particular massage therapy modalities will this expansion of the practice offer?  

Dr Hill: Below is a breakdown of just few of the massage techniques we provide. 

  • Swedish: This modality uses kneading, compression and long strokes to help soothe the  muscles, increase circulation, and promote energy and relaxation.  

  • Deep Tissue: This modality uses firm pressure targets the deep muscle layers and connective tissues to relieve pain and muscular tension.  

  • Sports: This modality helps to strengthen, stretch and lengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments in order to alleviate the pain of athletic injuries.   

  • Aromatherapy: This modality combines both gentle and firm strokes, along with the use of essential oils, to promote healing and deep relaxation. 

  • Hot Stone: This modality helps to melt away muscular tension and stiffness with the placement of smooth, water-heated stones on the body.  

  • Thai: This modality compresses, pulls and stretches the entire body in order to help increase flexibility and boost energy levels. 

  • Lymphatic Drainage: This modality uses gentle motions and pressure to help stimulate blood circulation, body fluid balance and immune function.  

NA: Who are the massage therapists joining your team at Sandhill Healing Center?  

Dr. Hill: Suzie Boland is a Licensed Massage Therapist with over 29 years of experience in her current field, as well as over 30 years of experience as a recreational therapist. She is trained in both craniosacral and relaxation massage with techniques specifically designed to enhance circulation, blood flow and overall health. She feels that a team approach to therapy ensures the best outcome for achieving health and wellness (Lic. #MA20202). 

Dawn Lautner is a Licensed Massage Therapist with over 14 years of experience. She has an Occupational Associates of Science degree in therapeutic massage and holds certifications for manual lymphatic drainage in medicine and aesthetics. She is experienced in various massage techniques including Swedish, joint mobilization, sports and neuromuscular therapy, but she specializes in deep tissue. She also believes in community involvement to help make a positive impact on the lives and well-being of others (Lic. #MA57359). 

           Crystal Lacen is a Licensed Massage Therapist with 14 years of experience. She is a graduate of Heritage Institute who specializes in prenatal, Swedish, deep tissue and trigger points massage, as well as the unique art of Thai massage on the table. She believes in assisting in the process of the body’s natural abilities to heal (Lic. #MA52712). 

Kelly Dinnan is a Licensed Massage Therapist with over 14 years of experience in her current field. She received her Associate’s Degree form Heritage Institute in Fort Myers, and she is trained in Swedish, neuromuscular and therapeutic massage with a special certification in medical massage. She also has extensive training in reflexology, hot stone massage, prenatal, craniosacral, Swe-Thai and MyoZen techniques. Dinnan believes in the mind-body connection in order to help the body achieve total wellness (Lic. # MA 50409).  

NA: Why is massage therapy such a beneficial part of holistic wellness and self-care?  

Dr. Hill: In today’s hectic world, we all need time to pause, breathe and relax.  Massage offers a safe space to disconnect from these stress and anxiety triggers. In clinical trials, massage reduces anxiety, increases emotional resilience and promotes a sense well-being. Massage is a low-risk modality and extensive health benefits.   

Massage increases overall energy and boosts immune function. It can even make you a kinder person by increasing oxytocin levels. You’ll feel calm, at ease and more connected to others. Massage also helps increase serotonin and dopamine for a natural mood lift. Massage therapy is also safe for all ages, from infants and children to adults and seniors.       

NA: What COVID-19 safety measures are being taken here to protect both clients and staff?  

Dr. Hill: Our massage therapy practice at Sandhill Healing Center will implement comprehensive sanitation protocols and utilize guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We ask that everyone in our building follow these precautions under all circumstances when they perform or receive massage therapy services.   

Dr. Cheech Hill is a Licensed Massage Therapist (MA13356), Licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist and Certified Neuromuscular Therapist in the state of Florida. Dr. Hill is the owner of Sandhill Healing Center, and is a board-certified diplomate of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She has 25 years of experience in bodywork, as well as 20 years of experience in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Sandhill Healing Center is located at 24901 Sandhill Blvd., Suite 8, Port Charlotte. For more information, call 941-235-8929 or visit 


Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer is the Managing Editor of Natural Awakenings Sarasota–Manatee. She also works as a freelance writer, blogger and social media marketer. Her personal blog features tips for embracing an active, nutritious, balanced and empowered lifestyle. 


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