Spencer Krueger is an energetic registered massage therapist who has volunteered on many medical outreach missions with Global Healthworks Foundation since 2014. She combines her skills in athletic training and manual therapy to provide high quality treatments to people in need. It has been a pleasure having her join our GHF practitioner team. Read all about Spencer’s story with Global Healthworks Foundation below.
Spencer Krueger: Massage Therapist and Belly Massage Extraordinaire
“Spencer, we’ve got a belly for you,” shouts Kristen Pawlick, Global Healthworks Foundation (GHF) acupuncturist, gesturing towards a treatment table. The tall, blonde Ontario resident walks over to the table, checks her patient’s intake form, and shares a smile with the middle-aged Guatemalan woman lying in front of her. “Hola,” Spencer says, beginning to press on the woman’s mid-section. “¿Bien? (Good?)” she asks. The woman nods. “Muy bien (Very good),” Spencer says again, enthusiastically.
The October 2017 jornada (medical mission) is twenty-eight-year-old Spencer Krueger’s fifth outreach trip with GHF. A registered massage therapist, Spencer is known as the team’s go-to belly masseuse—both for patients and fellow volunteers. “There’s nothing Spencer loves more than giving a Guatemalan a belly massage,” Kristen says of her friend and fellow GHF volunteer.
“There’s nothing Spencer loves more than giving a Guatemalan a belly massage."
With high rates of gastritis and other digestive issues in Quiché, the region in which GHF operates, Spencer’s belly massages are a welcome addition to the team’s skill set. As she describes, “The abdomen is a very neglected area. No one ever thinks that can be treated, even though it’s where most people’s problems stem from—hip flexor tightness, back pain, lower back pain, breathing issues. All kinds of things.”
After studying athletic therapy at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Spencer decided to change her academic and professional foci from athletic therapy to massage therapy; what she describes as “an easy transition.” She received her degree in massage therapy from the Ontario College of Health and Technology in 2014 and journeyed to Guatemala for her first jornada shortly thereafter. “Kristen had traveled here before and invited me to come along,” she says. “Now, I love Guatemala and can’t stay away.”
In addition to providing quality belly massages and therapeutic bodywork treatments, Spencer also enjoys educating her patients on easy ways to improve their health and wellbeing on their own. “I like to give them the tools they need to make themselves feel better,” she says. Though she speaks French and English only, she notes that her simple Spanish phrases combined with her “charades,” or exaggerated gestures, enable her to communicate despite the language difference.
“I don’t speak any of the languages here,” Spencer says, “but I never seem to have an issue. I act out and demonstrate how to breathe correctly and how to mobilize their ribs correctly, which increases feelings of calm and relaxation. When we breathe with our chest, our neck muscles have a tendency to compensate for the diaphragm. A lot of the neck issues here are a result of that incorrect breathing.”
Spencer’s desire to help as much as she can, however she can, says Dan Wunderlich, GHF Founder and Executive Director, is characteristic of her willingness to put “everyone else’s needs first. You wouldn’t even know that Spencer has needs herself. She’s a valuable team player all the way around and will do anything she’s asked. Spencer helps not only with very effective therapeutic massage treatments, but she also helps lead our yoga and body movement classes.”
It’s easy to be a team player when you’re “part of a great team,” Spencer says. “We’re all really open to sharing our skills and utilizing everyone else’s skills. We learn each person’s strengths and support each other whenever needed.”
Undoubtedly, one of Spencer’s strengths is making her patients laugh, smile, and relax more deeply while on her table. “She’s probably the only person here who gets a hug and kiss after each treatment,” Kristen says. “It’s obvious the Guatemalans love her, and she loves them back.”