10 Must-Do’s in a Massage Therapist’s Week

10 Must-Do’s in a Massage Therapist’s Week

Massage Snacks10 Must Do’s in a Massage Therapists’ week:

  1. Eat Breakfast!  We use approximately 200-600 calories per massage!
  2. Eat snacks in-between massages
  3. Use good body Mechanics…this is not a myth, it will make or break you
  4. Get plenty of rest
  5. Deep breathe during and between massages
  6. Stretch: your neck, forearms, back and legs
  7. Learn to protect yourself spiritually with prayer or other (watch for my upcoming blog on Massage Energy Zaps)
  8. Keep clear time-boundaries with clients
  9. Maintain a clean, organized workspace.  In my opinion, keep your massage table made with clean sheets and ready for your next client
  10. Stay strong: exercise regularly, 3x/week, focusing on hands, arms, back, legs and core

Is there anything I missed?  What do you find most beneficial as a Massage Therapist to keep you going?

Top 6 Reasons for Being a Self-Employed Massage Therapist

Massage Therapist AlbuquerqueThe Top 6 Reasons for being a self-employed Massage Therapist:

  1. Help people and really make a difference
  2. Choose your schedule
  3. High earnings per hour
  4. Work only on the clients you want to work with
  5. Your choice of environment, colors, music, type of sheets, oils, etc
  6. Concentrate on the style of massage or expertise you like most

Do you agree with these top 6?  What are your favorite things about working as a self-employed Massage Therapist?

A Week In the Life…as an Established Self-Employed Massage Therapist

A Week In the Life…as an Established Self-Employed Massage Therapist

Massage Room

_MG_2702What is it like to be a massage therapist?  Are you thinking of starting a career in massage therapy?  You Should!!!  It’s an awesome career! If you have compassion for others, you will get more out of a career in massage therapy than you will put in.

There are pros and cons, just like any career.  Each massage career is
completely unique, so you can truly build the career you want.  This is excellent for some and for other therapists, this free will is what challenges them the most.

After working hard to plan your massage career path, make goals &
work towards them, you can establish a wonderful career.  Please remember that this takes years of hard work and dedication.  If you can stay positive and focused, you can create the massage career you dream of.

An Example Week in an Established Self-Employed Massage Therapy Career of a Mom with kids:

DSC_0121You work when your kids are in school, Monday-Friday, from 8:00-3:00, massaging your most favorite people in the world and help them feel better for 12-20 hours per week.   The rest of your days are spent with your family.  You
also offer personal fitness training for your clients which has been a great addition

The appointments you make are mostly 60 minutes with 15 minutes in between treatments.  You try not to see more than 4 people per day, and bring a snack to eat between clients.  The perfect day is 2 personal fitness training hours & 2 hours of massage with a Tuesday weekly lunch date with your spouse.  You keep several calendars:  a pencil written small calendar, MassageBook, and iCal.  These you cross-reference incase any of them are damaged, stolen or lost.  You have backups of all your records.DSC_0723
The advertising, website and phone presence you maintain is a daily chore and keeps you on your toes of what is relative to your current client load.  The most important is keeping the MassageBook calendar up to date.   The work you put in on the website and with social media make it easy for clients to make appointments online with you, which makes things very easy for you

scheduling.

You make between $70-$150/hour, depending on the type of pressure you’re using and whether or not it’s Tigger, it's Me!a package, for which you offer a discount if the clients pay ahead. For an “Emergency Massage” or an “in-home” massage you charge more per hour.  You don’t usually do the out of office calls anymore, instead send one of your sub-contractors, since it takes so much planning around your childcare.You have a regular exercise and stretching routine in order
to keep your body (especially your hands) healthy and happy.  This includes receiving regular massage sessions from your favorite massage therapists around town.

An accountant does all your taxes & payroll.  You enter your clients’ information into MassageBook daily and keep both a hand written and electronic log of treatments & payments.  The continuing education you take to maintain your license is paid for out of your own pocket, so you get to look for the best and most relevant courses you can find.DSC_0695
You bring in $40,000-$60,000 working under 20 hours per week and get to take vacations whenever you like.  You find people to barter with:  carpet cleaners, dentist, hair dresser, handyman, mechanic, groomer, photographer, music teacher, etc.  You take good care of your clients and they in turn take good care of you.

REMEMBER:

This career will take about 3-5 years to create.  Consider having enough saved up to live on for at least 6 months (a year would be better) as you start this business.

Don’t take for granted the many, many, many hours and years it takes to establish a business, especially a business where you work the hours you want with the price you want to charge.  This is not overnight.  This is not simple nor is it guaranteed. It’s lots of hard work, dedication, and most of all, it’s working outside the “box” you want to eventually work in.  Late/early appointments.  Free appointments as you establish yourself.  Don’t give up.  If you ever feel like giving up, call me!

Favorite Massage Lotions and Oils

Favorite Massage Lotions and Oils

Santa Fe Lavender SalveWhat is your favorite massage oil or lotion?  We all have our favorites.  I have been using BioTone’s Dual Purpose Creme for decades.  It’s reliable and is still a staple in my office, but I’ve been a bit bored with it as of late and I’ve been on a mission to find some good alternatives

My current favorites are some Shea Butter beauties that I really love.  All of these I found at different Arts & Crafts fairs.BioTone Dual Purpose Massage Creme
1.  Santa Fe Lavender Salve is my absolute favorite!  This Shea Butter based salve is excellent for Deep Tissue Massage and Myofacial work of any kind.  The glide is slow and allows for deep work and lasts a long time on the area.  My clients love it too!  The Rio Grande Arts & Crafts Fair this spring had The Santa Fe Levander Company, which uses organic lavender that they grow themselves.  I love their products!  Check out their website for this salve and other great products:  www.santafelavender.com

2.  Essential Addictions Stress Relief Shea Butter is my other favorite.  It has a wonderful spearmint smell with lIMG_1620avender as well.  This Shea Butter blend also has a great glide and lasts for a long time on the area.  I found this little company at a Fair in Hermosa Beach, California.  Even in the heat and sun, this product was thick and had a slow glide.

3. Essential Addictions Balance Shea Butter is the last for this list.  It has a great smell and has the same thick consistency of it’s partner: the Stress Relief Shea Butter.  There are several other flavors on their website: www.essentialaddictions.com

What is your favorite massage lotion or oil?

I also love the LUSH massage bars and the BioTone products.

Top 4 Troubles for Self-Employed Massage Therapists and How to Avoid Them

Take care of your hands as a massage therapist

Take care of your hands as a massage therapist

Most Massage Therapists are good at the art of giving a massage, even spectacular.  Rarely is the problem, when Massage Therapists decide to leave this career, that the therapist is bad at massage.  Sometimes this is the case, but even a mediocre massage can be improved with practice & study.

Another reason often mentioned for leaving the massage therapist career is the strength Massage Therapy requires is more than someone can handle for more than a few years.  True, sometimes, depending on the modality the massage therapist chooses to use.

Honestly though, the top reasons therapists leave this business, which is similar to why people leave many Entrepreneurial professions:  a lack of business savvy.  I think this is why being an employee or sub-contractor is easier in the long run for those people who are good at massage, or which ever business you are in, but not so good at the business end of the business.

 

Top 4 Troubles for self-employed Massage Therapists:   (And How to Avoid Them)

  1. Not enough clients or income or both
  2. Feeling stuck or frozen about lack of clients
  3. Paperwork overwhelm
  4. Fatigue, in the hands, neck, back, forearms, feet

 

First of all, THERE IS HOPE!!  So don’t give up or stop trying because of fear.  If you are doing what you love, like massage therapy or personal training or yoga, etc, I have some ideas for your success (and a reminder for my own continued success).  My suggestion is just to be realistic, patient and persistent.  Lets look at why these pit-falls show up in the first place:

The first problems start with UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS….that:

  • clients are easy to find & easy to keep
  • money will show up often “just because”
  • expenses are low, almost nonexistent
  • paperwork takes care of itself
  • taxes are for other careers
  • your body is strong and you don’t need extra maintenance
  • self-care, hydration, rest, stretching, physical fitness is what we Preach, not what we Do. Hee, hee.
  • assuming that this is the perfect career path for you, without looking at hard facts

The second problem is a lack of knowing your CLEAR PATH:

  • List your reasons for doing massage (or personal training, yoga, etc)
  • Why do you love doing massage, so much that you’ve done many for free?  Remember those reasons.
  • What are your Goals? (answer these questions…in writing)
    • What types of massage do you want to do/not do…be VERY SPECIFIC
      • example: instead of saying: I want to work on athletes.
        •  I want to work on female Mom athletes, between the ages of 35-55 who are college educated and willing to do their physical homework in order to get better.
      • example: instead of saying: I don’t want to work on Mean people.
        • I will pre-charge for first time clients, and I won’t reschedule them if they are disrespectful.
  • Write a BUSINESS PLAN   NO KIDDING!!  
    • Start with a simple plan
    • Know your NUMBERS!
      • How many appointments do you need per week/month to pay your “nut” or minimum bills?
      • How many people do you need to talk to in order to make 10 appointments?
      • What is your rate of return? (how many new clients return?)
      • How much money are you putting into retirement from each massage? (often forgotten about)
      • Do you pay your taxes monthly or quarterly? (and put it aside immediately…untouchable!)
      • From Where are people finding you?  (where should you spend your advertising dollar?)
  • Take CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
    • In ANY profession…60 min of daily exercise, plenty of water, plenty sleep… for starters (do what i suggest and not what i do… :))))
    • Find Balance: easier said… but still essential
    • When your hands are hurting…let them rest

Don’t give up.  A career you love—-getting paid doing what you love is really possible.  Find a MENTOR!  Message me if you have questions.  Don’t give up yet…

Your Massage Toolbox

Jesse Byrd, NMT instuctor

Jesse Byrd, NMT instructor

A common question we hear from massage therapists is what Continuing Education classes they should take.  This is a great question. Most states require 16-32 hours every 2 years to maintain a state massage license.  New Mexico requires 16 hours and an extra 8 hours for Instructors.

Consider your “Massage Toolbox”, loaded with the best “tools” to serve your clients.  Is it well rounded?  Does it help most clients?  Is anything missing?

The basics are usually covered in Massage School.  We call that the “Square Massage”, where you learn the VERY basics of giving a massage.

Next, add to those “basics”, taking more Sports Massage or more Myo-fascial work.  Each of these modalities can help.

Every Massage Toolbox should have basic “Body Mechanics” and self care and good business practices.  Taking care of your body is AS important as learning fascinating skills.  If your body gives out…it won’t matter what you’ve learned.

After the basic classes are in your Massage Toolbox, then start looking for modalities that interest you.

Each therapist has specific talents and passions which they are drawn to.  Listen to your gut.

Medium deep trap work

Medium deep trap work

Massage CEUs are expensive, some more than others, and since each of us will only take 2-3 weekend classes each year, choosing your classes carefully is important.

Massage has so many options for Continuing Education!

  • Sports Massage
  • Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Pregnancy Massage
  • Oncology Massage
  • Cranial Sacral Therapy
  • Spa treatments
  • & many others

You can choose classes to help keep your hands and body from wearing out, or how to run your business.  Ethics is required by all and is often quite boring.

We can also use communication classes, personal training, nursing classes, aromatherapy, stretching, on and on.   Instead of learning ALL styles of bodywork, be specific.

If Sports or Trigger point is more your style, then ANY type of anatomy classes are a great help.  Or, if helping in a senior center or hospital is more your road, then you can find classes to help cancer patients, aging clients, or even hospice clients.

If moms are who you want to help, you could concentrate on pregnancy massage, infant massage, massage for migraines or massage for menopause.

photo-7

Whitney Lowe teaching Orthopedic Massage

If you have strong hands, then Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage or the like are good options.  Like Orthopedic Massage with Whitney Lowe was great.  He was easy to learn from and he very precise, which makes him good for “anal” students as well as those who don’t pay attention to details.  Or James Waslaski’s Ortho Massage is great, too.  James’ classes are more rugged or physical.  He really gets into each move and likes to manipulate the body more than other teachers.  Each modality I have found very helpful and effective back in the office.

 

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

 

If you don’t have strong hands or would like some smarter ways to work deeper, try Robert Stevens’ Core Synchronism  classes, which are incredible.  Even though “Core” is a subtle therapy, I use it in all of my “Deep Tissue” massages.  It is by far one of my favs.

Ultimately, you’ll need to choose your own path of learning, allowing yourself to be drawn to modalities that interest you.  Go with your gut.  The amount of CEU options is crazy and overwhelming.

Each therapist has great strengths and incredible talent in certain areas.  Explore different modalities to see which type of bodywork you excel in and like.  Which modality grabs your interest? Many will.  But, the better question is which modality KEEPS your interest.  Which do you always come back to? What is your “Go-to” when sessions get tough? When a friend or family member needs help with shoulder pain, what do you think of first?  In order to find your “Go-to” modality, you need to learn several modalities…different modalities.  I admit, some of the classes I took seemed to be a waste of time and money because I never used the specific style being taught…but I still learned from each instructor, and what was MOST important is to have clarity about what I DID NOT want to do.

Personally, I don’t think each of us is great at all modalities, and each of us has a specific way of helping people feel better.  Not each modality needs to be in your tool box….and not every person is going to “click” with you or you with them.

But, when you do “click” with a client, and you feel honored and genuinely respectful of their trust & concerned with the outcome of your time together, then having many different tools in your Massage Toolbox is very powerful. Using Trigger Points to specify pain, some stretches to loosen, deep tissue to lengthen, Core to synchronize, unwinding to calm and breathing to bring everything together, is one of oodles of examples of utilizing a well-rounded toolbox.  At the end of the day, when you get to make an amazing difference in another humans life, then ALL the classes are WAY worth it.

MassageBook.com is Awesome!

A new way for Massage Therapists to manage their businesses.

A new way for Massage Therapists to manage their businesses.

Massagebook.com is a new scheduling, bookkeeping, notes taking, client management site for massage therapists, yoga instructors, personal trainers, etc.  This is a simple system of keeping track of this specific business type, with easy scheduling, client tracking, etc.

How it works:  It’s FREE, yes, that’s the best part!  You pay $6 (the amount may have changed) for each client Massagebook.com finds for you.  A very small referral fee for sending you a paying client!  Besides that, the use of the site to run your business does not cost anything.

I have been searching for an integrated way to run my medium sized massage business for years. In the process I have tried Millenium, SpaBoom, MindBody & a homemade version of software without a name.  Each has good and not so good features for small businesses like mine. (I have blog drafts to finish regarding each of these options…coming soon).

Massagebook.com is made by massage therapists for massage therapists.  So far, I really like their feedback and the way things are constantly changing for the better.  Right now, for example, they don’t have a tax option, since the state in which the software authors reside don’t require Gross Receipts Tax like my state does.  So, instead, I’ve had to improvise and add the tax to the price.  Unfortunately, it’s off just a few pennies because there are also no “cents” just “dollar” amount options (as of this writing, that is, an it changes often).

Since small glitches change often and bugs get taken out and beautiful ideas put in their places, I am willing to do some extra background work in order to support this group and to use the user friendly interface.

What scheduling software have you used and like? I’d love to hear about other options too.

Core Synchronism with Robert Stevens

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

Robert Stevens, Core Synchronism

I highly, highly recommend Core Synchronism with Robert Stevens for any massage therapist, chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or neurologist.  I had the pleasure of taking Core Synchronism with it’s creator, Robert Stevens.

If you have the chance, come to Albuquerque and learn “Core” from Robert. He is incredible.  You will learn about the brain like you never have before.  Robert is inspiring, leading me and most of his students to crave more learning.  After his classes, I always find myself reading, exploring, searching and being curious more than I did before his classes.

A brilliant scholar & masterful communicator, Robert is able to explain how to palpate and learn Core Synchronism so it becomes natural in your practice.  This is subtle work; it’s easy on your hands and body, yet it’s effective on your toughest clients.  I use Core on my tough athletes and softer clients alike. 🙂 And, I use it on my ADHD husband when he has trouble being still.  Out of all modalities, my husband requests Core the most. So do my kids, btw.

The Class had about 20 students and 3 assistants.  Each assistant was incredibly helpful, patient and kind.  The class I took, Core 4, was 5 days long, 1:30-5:30, M-F, in the main classroom in The New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics where Robert Stevens in the director.  There are 7 weeks possible, Core 1-7, each class is a one-week class except for Core 7 which is 3 days and for which registration is full for about a year in advance (FYI).  Each class is a pre-requisite for the next. Many people take the first 3 at one time (I did too, years ago).  I would not recommend taking all 7 at one time.  It’s better to use Core for a year or two and understand the basics and then add to it from there.

After practicing Core 1, 2 & 3 since 1996, I was ready to move on to Core 4.  I do wish I had the childcare in order to take Core 4, 5 & 6 this year, but I’ll need to wait until next year.

Don’t get discouraged if you can’t palpate the rhythms at first.  It’s like riding a bike.  It seems impossible at first for some students, but once they feel the movement the first time, everything changes for them.

The classroom was large with plenty of tables and chairs.  The restrooms are in the classroom and there is filtered water available and a fridge for lunches/snacks.  Each student sat with a different partner each day and we traded as we learned from Robert, who worked on one of the assistants-unless the class is an odd number, in which case, he works on a student.

I would recommend arriving early each day and settling in.  There is oodles of info and it’s non-stop and very cerebral work, not physical, so being centered, well-rested and caught up with what happened the day before is helpful.  Also, bring a good snack.  You will have 1-3 breaks, but only one of them is long enough to enjoy your snack.

Core Synchronism is a great “tool” in your toolbox.  You won’t regret trying it, trust me. 🙂

The Best Schedule for Injury Care

Massage for injury rehabWhen clients come in with an injury that stops them from playing their sport, they usually want to know when they will be 100%.  And they usually hope you can tell them.  They want anyone to tell them.

They know their body pretty well, and they know how severe or mild their own injury is, so the answer or words they are really hoping to hear is for someone to tell them “out loud” what they are thinking to themselves.

“Oh, this is terrible.  Just terrible.  You are out for 6 weeks or 12 weeks.  Then you’ll be right back where you were before you got hurt.”

We wish it were that easy to know the future of when and/or how fast or slow someone will get back to 100%.

But it’s not that easy.  Every human body is different.  Every injury is different.  Every athlete is different and has unique styles of discipline, rest, recovery, diet, positive self-talk, etc.

Even the exact same doctor performing the exact same ACL replacement has different outcomes.  A different muscle tone before the surgery, different muscle imbalances that probably caused the ACL tear in the first place, etc, etc.

So, when helping athletes, put yourself in their shoes.  Consider their fear of NEVER playing their sport again.  Even with a simple injury, THIS is their main concern.

This is the schedule I usually try for acute injuries: (not the plan for post-surgery)

  • First Session: 1 hour in length, massage with assessment, ice, ice massage, stretches if indicated, refer to doctor if indicated.  You are looking for the specific muscle affected, how hot/swollen it is, is it even safe for you to work on them. After isolating the problem area, assess how much pressure they can handle, how strong of a contraction if any can they make, how much stretching of the area can they handle. Ice the area, and ice massage if tolerated.
  • Next Day, Day 2: 30 minutes in length, quick massage with assessment, ice massage, stretches
  • Next Day, Day 3: 30 minutes, same as yesterday
  • Two Days later, and every 2 days for 2 weeks: 30 minutes, same treatment plan using more pressure as tolerated, adding more stretching as tolerated.  If you are also a personal trainer, add strengthening as tolerated. Start assessing why the injured area is possibly out of balance.  If injury does not improve, or keeps coming back with little activity, send them to a doctor
  • 7 & 14 days after first session: 1 hour in length (in the middle of the 30 min/every other day schedule), massage with assessment, use more pressure as tolerated, ice massage, stretches and start adding opposite areas.  Always check in with the athlete about their workout schedule and how they are feeling, are they back to regular workouts? How is the pain right after the massage? When do they feel best? Worst? What are they doing themselves to help heal? You are looking for the swelling to go down, the heat in the affected area to go away, the pain to go away with pressure and then with action of that muscle, and lastly no pain with both.
  • Next twice per week @ 30 minutes or 1 @ 60 minutes, if they are still hurting, or this is a more serious injury that will take more time, pull back to 2-30 minutes or 1 60 minute session per week, depending on their availability and yours.  Be consistent & show them their progress.

Hope this helps.

 

The Best Massage Sheets and Their Care

Truly, there is a huge difference in Massage Sheets!  We will finally have the sheets we like for sale on this website!  We use Marigold Magic, a locally owned and operated company with outstanding sheets.

When we say “outstanding” sheets, this is what that means:

This is a "sturdy elastic seam"

This is a “sturdy elastic seam”

  1. they last 1000 washes
  2. they are soft and comfortable
  3. the seams don’t come apart
  4. the elastic is sturdy and stays on the table
  5. the elastic is still “bouncy” after 100’s of washes

There are so many different styles of sheets that massage therapists prefer: colorful, plain white, flannel, silky, all cotton, partly cotton, etc.

I prefer the basic: white flannel sheet set.

A “sheet set” refers to a bottom sheet, a flat top sheet and a head rest cover.  I use a generic pillow case to cover my king sized pillow as the client’s bolster.  I get those on sale when I happen to see them.  Since they are under the blanket, I use many different colors, which makes it easy to find them on sale.

Helping Your Sheets Last Longer

For us, the bottom sheets wear out quicker than the flat sheet or the head rest cover.  This happens more quickly if the sheets are pulled too hard over the corners of the massage table.  Over time, that action on the sheet will tear the middle of the sheet, the “under the back” area, since we slide our hands under the client’s back and the sheets get worn there the most.

To delay this wearing out in this area, be sure to use both ends of the sheet under the client, by the head rest end of the table.  You can keep track by noticing where the sheet label ends up when you are “dressing” your massage table with freshly cleaned sheets, then switch where the label is next time.

After 300+ washes, when the flannel is no longer visible, and the sheets are very soft but there isn’t any visible “Wear” in the “under the back” area, take care to gently roll the sheets over the corners instead of pulling hard.  With this care,  your sheets will last another 300 washes.  I have torn sheets like this and it is heart breaking to hear the “rrrrriiiiippppp” right when you are in a hurry.  It always happens to be my favorite softest sheets that feel like velvet to the touch.  So, remember to move SLOWLY when pulling the sheets over the corners of your massage table. 🙂

Washing, Drying & Folding

To wash the sheets, we use hot water with Oxy Clean powder & a liquid detergent.  We don’t use fabric softener.  I put 3 sets in one wash load, no more.  Not even one more little head rest cover.  With more in the washer, the sheets won’t get clean.

Wash towels and pillow cases separately.

We dry them in normal heat in the drier.  We tried hanging the sheets to dry but they were too rough and not soft enough.  Because we live in New Mexico, mold is never an issue.

One of the best advantages to the White Flannel sheet is they don’t wrinkle very easily.  Even if the sheets have been sitting for a while, they won’t get wrinkly, and they especially stay nice and smooth once they are placed on the massage table.

For me, it’s easiest to fold the sheets the exact same way every time.  This way, I can do it automatically, without really thinking about it.  And in the linen closet, they stack very nicely and I can always tell which stack is the flat or fitted pile by the way the sheets look after being folded.