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!

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…

Low Back Pain and Massage, by Jesse Byrd

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Low back pain is the 2nd leading cause to see your doctor in America

One of the most common ailments for which people seek massage is Low Back Pain.​​

Recently, a good friend hurt his back by hefting some lumber around while building a greenhouse. He wanted to build it quickly as he was racing an upcoming cold-snap. He learned something that most of Americans do at some point in their lives: lifting and twisting at the same time is not a good idea. The New York Times reported in 2012 that Low Back Pain is the second most common complaint for which people consult their doctors’ (6).​

The most important thing to learn regarding Low Back Pain (LBP), is how to prevent it. A lot of grief can be circumvented using proper lifting techniques. The Mayo Clinic has a brief, but informative, slideshow on proper lifting techniques here (4). Many people who come to see me for LBP have been lifting things that they don’t expect to cause them trouble.​

For example, one woman had been frequently reaching down to pick up her child, and then carrying him on her hip. Children are light at first, but they quickly get heavier. This client was used to just twisting, bending over and hoisting the child up. She wasn’t concerned with bending at the knees and maintaining proper spinal curvature.​

Another friend often comes to me for LBP treatment. He frequently lifts heavy things, alone, so it isn’t surprising that he gets occasional spasms. There was one instance, however, when he was simply moving wet clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Wet clothes are heavier than you might think, but more importantly transferring them from one machine to the other requires lifting and twisting (probably with knees locked). He may not have had any trouble doing this usually, but my friend, having previous injury to the area is more susceptible to re-injury.​

It isn’t just previous injury that predisposes someone to LBP caused by muscular strain. A number of other factors can be involved, and paying attention to them can help avoid not only low back strain, but strain elsewhere as well. These factors, called perpetuating factors, by Travell and Simons’ (p178 1.) include mechanical stresses, nutritional inadequacies, metabolic and endocrine inadequacies, psychological factors, chronic infection, and others. Questions to ask yourself and your doctor include:​

  •     Am I overusing, underusing, or misusing my muscles? Bad furniture? Bad posture, repetitive strain?​​​
  •     Am I getting adequate amounts of vitamins B and C, Iron, calcium, potassium, and trace minerals?​​​
  •     Is my thyroid functioning properly? Am I anemic?​​
  •     Am I fully addressing my stress, depression, and/or anxiety?​​
  •     Are there underlying psychological motivations for continuing to be sick?​​
  •     Am I uncomfortable asking for help? Are there secondary benefits to being in pain that I don’t want to lose?​​
  •     Do I have a chronic infection or allergies?​
  •     Am I getting adequate sleep?​

Having an awareness of these perpetuating factors, along with proper lifting techniques and body mechanics are important to preventing strain and spasms in the low back, and if strain has already occurred, will help to promote faster recovery and prevent re-injury. ​

​©Jesse W. Byrd 2013

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Jesse writes for our Athletic Touch blog monthly. Visit his page on our website here.

1. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual,  by Travell & Simons’

3. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-treat-lowerback-pain.html

4. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/back-pain/LB00004_D

5. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/pulled-back-muscle-and-lower-back-strain

6. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/back-pain-low/overview.html

​​

How Often Should You Get a Massage?

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1 hour per month is the quick answer-for the regular NON-COMPETING person. (For competing athletes in training, this article is not for you.)

For preventative healthcare in your life, have a 1 hour massage each month, IF you don’t have any nagging pains, depression issues, injuries, recent surgeries (within 1 year). Start now and your body will thank you.  Just think…how the world would change if everyone had a massage every month!!

With chronic pain, anxiety, recent injuries or surgeries & other possible ailments, having a massage 1-2 per week —-until your issue is resolved—- is the best plan of attack.  Depending on your issue, this could take 1-12 weeks, or longer.  Try to think of this as an incredible investment into your healthcare, into your longevity, health, happiness & smart living.

After the pain or anxiety stays away for more than 1 week, then start to spread out the time between massages: 10 days, then 14 days, then 21 days, and finally 28 days between massages.  Remember to stay 14 days, 14 days, etc, until there is no pain for that entire time between sessions.  You could even call your therapist & push your appointment out a few days if you don’t feel pain yet.

It is not uncommon to need a weekly massage for a few weeks within this entire process…especially for off-season marathon runners or MMA fighters between fights, or people recovering from hip/knee replacements, for example.  Don’t give up hope!! This is not a set-back, instead, it’s a shift for your healing process and a time when your body may need just a bit more support.

Truly learning how to support your body by understanding what it needs to heal is a great gift.  Once your brain and your body are on the same team and not fighting each other, many things start to click into place.

When you have 28 days between massages PAIN FREE, there is nothing better for client or therapist!!  Even the first week without pain is very exciting.  Just remember that it can take a few weeks, but if you are consistent & gentle with yourself, miracles can happen.

Start this week!  Have a massage and de-stress.  Breathe deeper.  Feel more peace. Hope.  And most of all, Love.  Yourself.

Unwinding Really Works

I was reminded today, of how far I’ve come in my openness to treating the body, as my intern, Jordan, helped with a massage where we used “unwinding” of the neck. This slow, gentle technique is amazing…and took years to learn for my ADD type personality.

During massage school and for the first 500-1000 massages, I didn’t believe certain modalities (types of massage) really worked or mattered to learn. A few of the modalities I’m referring to are: Polarity, Reflexology, Cranio Sacral Therapy, etc. Anything I considered “non-sports massage” or “non-deep tissue” were dead to me. I would sleep during these classes. Phew on you, “non-massage” techniques!”

These modalities are often referred to as “Energy Work”.

I was a muscle person; I only wanted to learn about the muscles and how to help or manipulate muscle tissue with a firm grip. “Energy Work” was boring, useless and Woo-Woo. Massage Therapy has a stigma of having irresponsible, “Woo-woo” type people involved, and I was trying to fly very straight and narrow.

The clients I attracted and attract today are of similar thinking, and we understand each other when we discuss pain and problems in the body.

But, interesting “coincidence” started happening in my first year as a Massage Therapist: Deep Tissue work and Sports Massage were not helping all the issues coming into my office.

It turned out that muscles were sometimes responding to a lighter touch, a slight stretch or just being still. I was shocked with the results that came from presenting something “Calm” to tight muscles. Soon, I realized how naive I had been in school and arrogant to assume so much about the amazing machine our bodies are.

I went back to my school and sat in every “Energy Work” class I could fit into my schedule and received treatments from many therapists across Albuquerque, Santa Fe and San Diego (where my family lives)

Through the years, I have incorporated many “Energy Work” techniques into all of my Sports Massage or Deep Tissue work. The conversations with my clients changed to be more open to stillness, less pressure, slow movements and deep breathing. It turned out that some of my most type “A” clients, top athletes, real “go-getters” benefited the most from adding these techniques into their treatments…and they were also the most resistant. I walked them through the uncomfortable feeling of “stillness”, even when they were about to blow up at me. Each time, it turned out great, and we learned to communicate better…calmly.

I still feel like a kindergarten-er, learning new ways to help each different body feel better, run faster, punch harder, recover quicker. But mostly, I realize the importance of Calm…