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!

8 Tips for Healing Massage Hands

8 Tips for Healing Massage Hands

Hand AcupunctureThe massage profession is hard on our hands.  Be good to your hands.  Have tools around to soothe them.  Make your hand health a priority.  Here are some tips that have healed my hands after they were sore, and several massage therapist buddies of mine use some of the same tips.

Microwavable Hot Packs

1.  Keep your hands warm  Truly.  It really helps.  Do what ever it takes to keep them warm, especially right after you last massage of the day.  When your hands start getting sore, this is the #1 helpful tip!  I use a bean bag warmer to keep my hands warm: one of those bags that you put in the microwave for 2 minutes.  It’s awesome!

2.  Ice your hands after sessions  This seems counter to “Tip 1”, but it’s helpful.  Ice forno more than 10 minutes.  I use a ziplock bag of ice and usually no longer than 3 minutes at a time.  Soon after icing, I get my hands warm again.  For example, I get my hands warm after a massage: and by “after”, I mean, after saying “bye” to your client, changing the sheets, etc.  Get your hands warm again, and then ice them for 3-10 minutes, then use the bean/rice bag to warm them up.  I do this contrast therapy several times

3.  Use a paraffin hand bath often  Another “warming” option is the paraffin bath.  I have my machine on all the time.  Dip your hand in 5 times in a row and let it stay of for 5-10 minutes.  Because I’m
the only one using my paraffin bath, I put the wax back into the machine to reuse the wax.  If you’ve just iced your hands, let them get to room temperature before dipping into the wax.

Hand Acupuncture4.  Have Acupuncture on your hands!  This really helps!  After having a cyst in my Acupuncture for Handpalm, Acupuncture got rid of it in 5 sessions.  I went 5 days in a row.  1 hour session each day.  And I took the herbs they suggested.  A hand surgeon told me that surgery wouldn’t work and that the cyst would just get bigger and massage as a career was over.  Acupuncture worked great.  I used Acupuncture again when my thumb was sore and it helped that too… in 2 sessions.

Hand Stretch with a drum stick5.  Have a hand & body stretching routine  Here are some pictures of what I do.  I have a drumstick close by to stretch my hands/forearms and to show clients how to stretch theirs.  Stretch all the w
ay up to your neck, then also your back and side.  I roll my wrists, use the drumsticks for my forearms, a doorway to stretch my pecs, and an exercise ball to stretch my back, obliques, neck and triceps.

6.  Get Chiropractic adjustments  Sometimes the pain is coming from your neck…just like we tell your clients.  When I get an adjustment, it really helps my hands.  I try to see Dr. Marrich on a regular basis.  When you find a good chiropractor, it really helps to stay “pain-free” in such a physical job as massage therapy.  Often, my wrists, elbows and clavicle all adjust.

7.  Foam Roll under your arms  This really help my arms relax.  Get the teres major, minor and your lats.  Do this by putting your arm above your head and foam rolling the area under your arms.  Email me if you need some ideas with the foam rolling. When my hands are sore, I add this to my routine to soothe them.  It’s not always the obvious areas that make the most difference.

8.  Rest  Have rest days.  Make time to recover after a certain number of massage hours.  And then really rest your hands: no opening of cans, no pushups or weight holding at the gym on your rest days.  If you go to the gym, use the “hand rest days” as days for legs & core.  Do exercises where “gripping” isn’t needed.

I have many things I do daily to take care of my hands so I can continue to do deep tissue massage.  Email me if you want to chat about ideas to help if your hands hurt. 🙂 info@athletictouch.com

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.

Add a Few Minutes to Your Massage Time

One of the best ways to keep clients is to add a few minutes to their massage hour.

Add 1-2 minutes for your clients

Add 1-2 minutes for your clients

They are paying you per minute, for you time.  If you add just 1-4 minutes, it’s great for their neck, hands or feet, and they will love it.  Sometimes you could even let them know, “Are you in a rush today? I was going to add a few minutes so I can focus a bit more on your neck, or would you rather I end on your hand?”

Schedule 15 minutes at least in between each client to allow for time to change sheets, take payments, reschedule and let the next client get ready.  The only time clients can be scheduled back to back is when you only have 2. This way, if you start your next client a few minutes late, which you will, then you can go over a few minutes and not create a traffic jam of waiting clients.

Don’t short your clients!  This is the worst business practice in our profession.  Have integrity about your time.  If you have to short them at some point, let them know that you are aware of stopping early and offer to give them more time for their next massage.  If it’s a new client, then discount the massage. Keep the practice that “the client is always right”.

When you “take the hit” of a client discount and/or less money for a short massage, or a treatment you were late to, too tired/hungry to do your best, etc, a few dollars less is worth their loyalty.  They will appreciate the gesture, and in most cases will tip you more, or if not a tip, at least will remember your integrity. Respect their time & money.

A few minutes of your time given as a gift will return to you much more abundance than a few minutes of time.

What to Expect During a Therapeutic Massage

What to expect during a Therapeutic Massage

What to expect during a Therapeutic Massage

This is a great question and one that I often assume people already know the answer to.  For those of you wondering what to expect, who have never had a Therapeutic Massage and still wonder what that means exactly, I apologize for my assumption and will explain how I see a Therapeutic Massage from the clients perspective.  Here’s a basic list of what to expect:

  1. Friendly Massage Therapist who explains every step
  2. Clean office space
  3. Get ready alone to your comfort level of undressing
  4. Plenty of comfortable sheets & blanket to cover you
  5. The Massage Therapist knocks when they come back in
  6. The Massage Therapist should communicate with you for your requests/pain/comfort level
  7. If there are painful areas, your pain tolerance is respected
  8. If there is not enough pressure, you can request more…or leave
  9. Your aches/pains/tensions are addressed
  10. You feel safe, comfy, happy & relaxed
  11. Your time is honored and accounted for
  12. Payment is taken, (tips are encouraged)
  13. You reschedule 🙂 At least 1 massage per month for life (just think how this investment in your health could change your patience level, sleep, relaxation, effectiveness, peace & calm, etc….just sayin’)

First of all, keep in mind that the phrase and act of giving a “Therapeutic Massage” is as broad a term as asking an art class to paint the picture of a house.  For the art students, they are shown in the same way how to outline the frame of the house, where to put the windows and doors, maybe even what colors to use, yet each student will paint something very unique.  Their painting will still have the house frame, some doors and windows, and possibly similar colors as their classmates, but each painting is as individual as each painter.

The same is true for “Therapeutic Massage.”  The hours of required classes of “how to” in any massage school world wide are basically the same.  Students are taught the same framework of a basic massage.

I can remember learning to do 3 circles on each part of the arm, then each part of the leg, then the foot, then the other foot, then the next leg, etc, until the entire sequence was finished. And we’d practice this basic “square” until it was memorized.

Like an open canvas is to a painter, so is a massage to a Massage Therapist.  Each session can have different tones of light or dark colors, soft or hard pressure, starting on the feet or neck or back, starting face-up or face-down.  What type of lotion, oil, aromatherapy to use? Should you add hot rocks, hot towels, different music, heated blankets? Are you going to stay standing or use a chair? How much breathing or stretching will be involved?  The way the massage goes is lead by many factors of how fast the client relaxes with different tools from our pallet of massage moves.

What should you expect during a Therapeutic Massage…

Your therapist should greet you happily, with a form for you to fill out of your basic medical information as it pertains to having a massage.  This is because certain medical conditions, some obvious, some not so obvious, can be affected negatively by the rubbing of skin, lymph, muscles, etc.  You could see questions like, “do you have any open wounds?” (the more obvious problem for massage), to “do you have blood clots” (a less obvious but very serious contraindication…which means….massage could make this condition worse).

After you finish your paperwork, your therapist will lead you to your massage room and explain what to do.  It could go something like this: “Have you ever had a massage before? How can I help you today? This is the massage table. When you lay down, you should be between the bottom sheet and the top sheet/blanket.  Your face goes into this headrest. You can put your belonging and clothes over here on this chair.  For me to work on the pain on your back, I suggest that you take off at least your shirt.  You may also take off all your clothes or just leave your underwear on.  You should know that you will always be covered by this sheet and blanket.  Do you have any questions?  I’m going to leave the room and wash my hands.  You go ahead and get ready.  I will knock when I come back in.”

You can make the best choice for you of whether to get undressed or not.  Truly, as Massage Therapists, if they have worked on several 1000 clients, then they are used to anything.  I work on nuns who cannot take off their clothes, on clients who need an chaperone in the room for religious reasons, and those very used to massage who start getting undressed before I close the door…and everything in-between. Lay down, relax, breathe, get comfortable.

You need to be comfortable.  That’s what matters.  We will work with whatever makes you comfortable.

During your Therapeutic Massage, you should expect communication from your therapist: if the pressure is too hard, hard enough, are you comfortable, are you warm enough, is the music ok for you, etc, etc.  When you have a special request, for example, “neck pain”, then the therapist should ask you about your pain tolerance in certain “trigger point” areas.  What does “trigger point” mean.

“Trigger Points” to you mean a sore spot when it is touched.  One of those “I-didn’t-know-that-hurt-until-you-pushed-on-it” type points.  We are looking for these in certain areas because “pain patterns” often have a “trigger point” associated with them. This means that we may be able to stop the associated pain by rubbing on the “trigger point” instead.  The body is REALLY all connected.  I’m never shocked anymore with where a client will feel “referred pain” from a “trigger point”.

What is “referred pain”? This can happen, for example, when we are pressing on a “trigger point”, but instead of feeling pain at that point, you could feel pain down your arm, up your neck, in your chest, etc.  Sometimes it’s on the other side of the body, sometimes down the legs, arms, etc.  Everyone is different and every trigger point is different.

Your therapist should use several different styles or “modalities” of massage to relieve your pains, tenderness and tension.  This may include different oils or lotions, first checking if you have any sensitivities, aromatherapy, hot towels, deep tissue, lighter work, rocking, myofacial work, etc.

So, in general, if you only have a few areas of tension that need extra time, then your massage will usually go something like this:  You start face-down and the massage therapist starts on your back, shoulders and neck, by rubbing oil/lotion along the muscle next to the spine, neck and out to the shoulders for about 10-15 minutes.  Sometimes the hips are included, even under your underwear, if that’s ok with you.  Next, the legs and feet. (for the massage I give, I usually work on the legs and the back at the same time…because often back pain is relieved from relaxing the legs.  By working on them at the same time, I can tell which part of the leg “causes” different parts of the back to relax…fyi”  After both legs are massaged, then usually the back is worked on briefly one more time, then you are asked to turn over.  You are always covered when you turn over.  Once face-up, your legs and feet are massaged again, then both arms (I always work on the stomach here, but not every therapist does), and finally the neck, shoulders, jaw, head, etc. with the therapist working from the front of the table.  This part usually takes the bulk of the “face-up” time. To end, usually the feet are massaged one last time and you are asked to relax and get up when you are ready but to take your time.

The pain you could feel during a Therapeutic Massage should not be past your tolerance, period.  Given that you are telling them the truth of what really hurts, the therapist should not hurt you.  Sometimes “trigger points” can hurt, but usually not for long and the pain should not last for more than 24 hours.

Signs that the massage was too Deep:

  • You have bruising
  • It hurts to move after the massage
  • You feel soreness past 24 hours
  • You are uncomfortable during the massage

If the therapist is not using enough pressure and you feel like a Salad from having so much oil kindly rubbed on you, you can request more pressure and end the massage if you don’t feel like you are getting your money’s worth.

Don’t get trapped getting a “Fluff & Buff” from a non-experienced therapist with no hand strength.  That is a common complaint, though.

Payment for your massage should be painless and understood beforehand.  Some Massage Offices/studios only take cash/check.  Not all take credit cards, so plan ahead.

And, a note for tipping.  Please tip.  It’s common practice and really appreciated.  Remember that the average career of a Massage Therapist is only 5 years mostly because it’s hard on our hands.  So, keep that in mind, and if your therapist did a good job, let them know with a $10-$20 tip per hour.

Lastly, after your massage, after paying, if you enjoyed the massage, please reschedule.  Many therapists can be shy and might not prompt you to reschedule.  This is about YOU, and having a good massage once per month is really worth the time and money.  Just imagine how this world would be if each adult had a relaxing massage each month…