Keeping It Professional in the Face of Awkward Client Situations - by admin@mcb on May 29 2015

Keeping It Professional in the Face of Awkward Client Situations

As a massage therapists, chances are you'll encounter some awkward situations. Know how to handle these situations appropriately. ©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages
As a massage therapists, chances are you’ll encounter some awkward situations. Know how to handle these situations appropriately. ©iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

Most massage therapists can rattle off a list of awkward situations that they have found themselves in. Perhaps a long-time client isn’t paying on time, you notice something unusual on a client’s skin, a client is upset you’re raising your rates, or there is an expectation of a personal relationship. Each of these, and many other awkward situations, are best handled with honesty and clear, concise communication.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy we are focused on providing continuing education for massage therapy courses and we understand the unique needs of a massage therapist. Our preferred methods for dealing with awkward situations include:

  • Focusing on the massage session- It’s best to focus on the massage session and ensure the client has a positive experience, even in the face of awkwardness. Redirect inappropriate comments or conversation by stating, “It’s best if I focus on this massage session now and we can discuss all of this once we’re done.”
  • Being direct- You can be direct without being rude. Make sure your policies and massage guidelines are clear and employ clear communication with clients to ensure there is no misunderstanding.
  • Trusting yourself- If working with a client doesn’t feel right or you notice a suspicious area on a client’s skin, it is your responsibility to speak up. Trust yourself, your experience, and your skills to make the best decisions possible for both your practice and your client.

Our team at the Institute of Somatic Therapy is committed to providing continuing education for massage therapy courses. Visit us online today to learn more about our courses and how they can help grow your massage therapy practice.

Is Your Pregnancy Massage Client’s Husband Hatching? - by admin@mcb on May 27 2015

Is Your Pregnancy Massage Client’s Husband Hatching?

Have any of your prenatal massage therapy clients reported that their husbands have started gaining weight along with their pregnancy? They might be experiencing “Couvade Syndrome.”

Image by Shutterstock
Image by Shutterstock

Couvade comes from the French word that means “to brood” or “to hatch”, and is used to describe someone who is having a “sympathetic pregnancy.” Symptoms usually begin to appear toward the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, and often increase in severity until birth. Symptoms commonly include indigestion, increased or decreased appetite, weight gain, diarrhea or constipation, headache, and backaches. While he doesn’t technically need a full prenatal massage like his wife, massage therapy can help with the backaches and headaches that he is experiencing, too.

Research on the condition varies widely, with some studies showing the occurrence as low as 11% and other studies reporting the incidence as high as 97%. There was also great variation from study to study as to what factors can lead to the condition. In an article that reviewed many research statistics (Brennan, A., Ayers, S., Ahmed, H., & Marshall-Lucette, S. (2007). A critical review of the Couvade syndrome: The pregnant male. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 25(3), 173-189), some studies linked it to age, with men younger than 30 more likely to experience it, while other studies linked it to age, with men over 30 more likely to experience it. Some studies linked it to lower education levels, while others linked it to higher education levels. Brennan concluded that the variations were due to small studies, different research methods, and research being done among differing ethnic groups. The authors of the review concluded that to have more definitive results, a much larger study needs to be done.

While no studies were found to confirm this, presumably Couvade Syndrome is not limited to a male pregnancy partner, but could possibly be exhibited by anyone emotionally vested in the pregnancy of a partner, friend, or relative.

In the meantime, since the only cure is birth, you can suggest to your prenatal massage client that her husband can follow her same morning sickness routines to ease his symptoms. The good news is that he will likely be more sympathetic to your client’s symptoms, too, and be more likely to support her receiving pregnancy massage on a regular basis. Perhaps regular couples’ massage sessions are in order.

Information to Send to New Clients to Prep Them for Their First Massage - by admin@mcb on May 25 2015

Information to Send to New Clients to Prep Them for Their First Massage

Make your client feel comfortable by taking time to inform them of all aspects of their massage. ©iStockphoto.com/kjekol
Make your client feel comfortable by taking time to inform them of all aspects of their massage. ©iStockphoto.com/kjekol

One great way to improve your massage therapy business is to deliver essential information to new clients before the massage session begins. This is a great opportunity for client education and to ensure the first therapy session is beneficial. Helpful tips to send to your new clients include:

  • Preparing for the session – Many new clients are unsure what to do prior to the massage session. Make sure to include information about timing, eating and drinking, and setting goals for the session. Encourage your new clients to come prepared with specific massage requests such as which body parts to target and overall goals.
  • Parts of a massage – New clients may be unsure about how the entire massage session works. You can answer many of their questions before the session begins by sending helpful information. Include details about the process and what they should expect from the minute they walk through your door.
  • After the massage – There are many helpful tips that therapists should share with clients after a massage such as drinking adequate amounts of water and avoiding certain types of exercise. Instead of relying on verbal directions you may want to send this information to clients before the session to ensure they understand.

If you are hoping to improve your massage therapy business consider enrolling in one of our online courses at the Institute of Somatic Therapy. We are committed to helping our students gain new knowledge and transform their practice. Visit us online today to learn more.

Prep Your Clients for Some Soreness After the Massage - by admin@mcb on May 22 2015

Prep Your Clients for Some Soreness After the Massage

After a massage, talk with your client and let them know that soreness is totally normal. ©iStockphoto.com/VladimirFLoyd
After a massage, talk with your client and let them know that soreness is totally normal. ©iStockphoto.com/VladimirFLoyd

New clients may wonder why their muscles are sore after a massage. When they were on the table they felt relaxed and invigorated yet the following day’s muscle soreness may seem like an indicator that something is wrong. A great way to head off a client’s concerns is to take the time to explain the potential for soreness following a massage.

After the massage is complete and you have a chance to talk and interact with your clients you should let them know that this soreness is normal. A massage is much like a workout and muscles that aren’t accustomed to the stimulation may be sore the next day. As a professional massage therapist you have the ability to reach all the kinks and tense muscles and increase blood flow to the surrounding area. This may cause normal soreness. Explain to your clients that as their bodies become more accustomed to massage therapy the soreness will become less noticeable. As always, make sure your clients have your contact information so they can follow up with you after the massage session with either questions or concerns.

One of the best ways to improve your massage therapy business is to enroll in online courses designed to expand your knowledge and grow your skills. Visit us online at the Institute of Somatic Therapy to learn about the many different courses we offer. Our team is committed to helping you improve your massage therapy business.

Advertise the Benefits of Hot Stone Massage to New Clients - by admin@mcb on May 18 2015

Advertise the Benefits of Hot Stone Massage to New Clients

©iStockphoto.com/YanC
Clients may be apprehensive about hot stone massage at first, but you can assure them that its benefits are many. ©iStockphoto.com/YanC

If clients have never heard of hot stone massage they may have questions about the technique and its benefits. Many times they may also be apprehensive to try new treatments that they have little knowledge of. When explaining the benefits of hot stone massage it’s important to focus on how the treatment can specifically impact the client’s massage session. Make sure to explain the benefits, including:

  • Improved circulation – Stones are typically placed on specific trigger points on the client’s body before the actual massage session begins. The heat from the stones encourages blood vessels to open and circulation to increase. The improved circulation delivers more essential oxygen to the muscles and can help ease aches and pains.
  • Muscle relaxation – The stones’ heat helps the muscles relax and boosts the effectiveness of the treatment session. Tight or tense muscles can hinder the massage therapy session and may not allow clients to reach a full state of relaxation.  
  • Pain relief – A hot stone massage tends to be more intense than other types of massage therapy and can have a greater impact on pain relief. The heat from the stones allows the therapist to penetrate deeper and access the spots that are causing the muscle pain.

One of our most popular online courses for massage therapy focuses specifically on hot stone massage. You can use this course from the Institute of Somatic Therapy to learn new skills that will benefit your clients.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy we offer a variety of online courses for massage therapy that can help transform your massage practice. Visit us online to learn more about the courses we offer and the ways in which you can grow your massage therapy skills.

Consider Adding Lava Shell Massage to Your Services - by admin@mcb on May 15 2015

Consider Adding Lava Shell Massage to Your Services

Lava shells can be used for massage in a similar manner to hot stones. ©iStockphoto.com/Riccardo_Mojana
Lava shells can be used for massage in a similar manner to hot stones. ©iStockphoto.com/Riccardo_Mojana

Many therapists integrate hot stones into their massage offerings because they understand the benefit of heat to loosen up muscles and the importance of relaxation. Another unique way to offer heat is by using lava shells. Lava shells are Tiger Clam shells from the Philippines that are specially polished with a hole drilled in one side. Inside the hole is a combination of essential oils, algae, dried sea kelp, and minerals. A little bit of water combined with plugging the hole creates a chemical reaction that produces heat for up to two hours.

The lava shells are perfectly suited to provide essential heat during a therapy session. They fit nicely into the therapist’s hand and maintain heat throughout an extended session. If you are thinking about adding a lava shell massage to your current options consider bundling it with other treatments as part of a recovery package. Many clients enjoy the soothing and relaxing treatment a day or two after a more vigorous deep-tissue massage. Marketing this new service is also important as many clients have never heard of lava shell massage. Take the time to explain the benefits and how it works. Enrolling in a continuing education for massage therapy course can help you discover innovative ways to advertise the service and include it in your current massage offerings.

At the Institute of Somatic Therapy we are proud to offer a variety of continuing education for massage therapy courses. Visit us online to learn more about our courses and how they can help transform your practice.

Becoming a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist - by admin@mcb on May 12 2015

Becoming a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist

Most massage therapists encounter a pregnant client at some point in their career. If you enjoy working with pregnant women, becoming certified and focusing your marketing efforts on pregnant clients will more than pay back the investments of your time and continuing education tuition.

Image from Istockphoto
Image from Istockphoto

When a woman is pregnant, every system of her body experiences physiological changes that impact massage. For example, the volume of blood in her body will increase as much as 20-30%. This necessitates avoiding certain types of strokes, watching for varicose veins, and using positioning designed to keep the weight of the uterus from impeding blood flow of the vena cava. The digestive system must accommodate the necessary additional food a pregnant woman must consume, all the while trying to digest the food in organs that are being displaced by the growing uterus. Using reflexology techniques for the colon can help provide relief. The endocrine system excretes hormones that lessen the stability of the skeletal joints, which impacts stretching or range-of-motion techniques.  The respiratory system is required to provide the body with up to 20% more oxygen than normal, so releasing the intercostals muscles can help her achieve easier breathing.

As you can see, there is far more to know about massaging a pregnant woman than just laying her on her side to keep the weight off her uterus.

Other benefits to becoming certified in prenatal massage therapy include the credibility your advanced training will provide when reaching out to the medical profession. Obstetricians, midwives, childbirth educators, and other prenatal care providers are unlikely to refer a therapist who has not received certification specific to their field. When you specialize in a particular modality, it helps you to stand out as an expert, which in turns helps you develop your business toward the type of client you choose to serve.

Many massage therapists who become certified in prenatal massage also choose to become certified for labor and delivery support during childbirth. There are numerous studies that show that the presence of a trained birthing assistant during labor helps the birthing woman have a shorter labor and less medical intervention, including less pain medications, as compared to women who did not have doula support.

There are many things a massage therapist can do during labor and delivery to help their birthing client have an easier labor. In the midst of contractions, the massage therapist can watch for building tension through the woman’s body and gently encourage her to relax it. The therapist can use positions and techniques designed to alleviate the pain of a baby who is in an occiput posterior position, which is the cause of back labor pain. The therapist can also give the birthing woman emotional support and encourage her to use the breathing techniques that can help with relaxation and pain tolerance.

The massage therapist is also helpful between contractions. She can use this time to massage away any tension that was built during the contraction in order keep the tension level at a lower, manageable level instead of building with each additional contraction. The therapist can also prepare for the next contraction by suggesting other coping techniques, positions, and strategies.

Massage therapists who work with women during pregnancy and childbirth report a high level of enjoyment with this specialty. If working with pregnant women is of interest to you, here are some of our courses that you may wish to consider:

Step One: Prenatal Massage Fundamentals
Step Two: Prenatal Massage Techniques
Step Three: Massage Doula Support
Infant Massage

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Feel for These Health Issues With Your Client During a Massage Session - by admin@mcb on May 11 2015

Feel for These Health Issues With Your Client During a Massage Session

As a massage therapist, you can help identify and relieve underlying health issues. ©iStockphoto.com/Gubcio
As a massage therapist, you can help identify and relieve underlying health issues. ©iStockphoto.com/Gubcio

As a massage therapist you have a unique window into a client’s health. You have the ability to see, feel, and experience their aches and pains and can help identify larger health concerns. There are certain health issues that you can simply feel with your hands during a massage session, including:

  • Constipation – A stomach that is firm to the touch is a sign of constipation. Encourage your client to drink more water, eat a variety of high fiber foods, and practice self-massage techniques to relieve constipation.
  • Lower back pain – Even if a client doesn’t mention lower back pain as a concern you’ll be able to feel it in your hands. Spend time visually assessing the back as well. Look for hips that are out of alignment or a large gap between the back and the table when in the supine position.
  • Stress – Everyone reacts to stress differently but a common sign of significant stress is tightness in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Focus on these areas to loosen the tense muscles and then discuss basic stress relieving techniques with your client.

If you’re searching for online courses for massage therapy visit us online at the Insitute of Somatic Therapy today. We’ve got a wide variety of online courses for massage therapy that can help you transform your massage practice and enhance your skills.

Massage is Becoming a Part of Many People’s Health Routines - by admin@mcb on May 08 2015

Massage is Becoming a Part of Many People’s Health Routines

Many people now see massage less as a luxury, and more as a necessary part of their health routine. more©iStockphoto.com/Oleksandr Gudenko
Many people now see massage less as a luxury, and more as a necessary part of their health routine. more©iStockphoto.com/Oleksandr Gudenko

Some people think of massage therapy as an indulgence, something extra to soothe tired muscles or reach the ultimate in relaxation. Although both of these reasons for massage are valid, many others are regularly incorporating massage therapy into their health routines to help treat specific ailments or conditions. Did you know that Americans visit a massage therapist more than 114 million times each year? Nearly $11 billion is spent on these visits, indicating the increasing popularity of massage therapy.

Understanding the benefits of massage can help you discover the best ways to integrate it into your life. These benefits include:

  • Stress relief – Life is hard at times and a massage can help ease your stress. Communicating with your therapists is essential so they understand your current needs and can help tailor a massage session to help reduce your specific stress level.
  • Relaxation – Many massage therapy clients list relaxation as the number one reason for scheduling a treatment session. It provides an opportunity to escape and relax while taking a break from your hectic day.
  • Pain relief – Often times people schedule massages when they have sore muscles and need  targeted therapeutic work. A massage therapist can also help relieve many different kinds of pain including joint pain, lower back pain, or myofascial pain.

If you are ready to renew your massage therapy license visit us online at the Institute of Somatic Health.  Our courses are designed to help you increase both your knowledge and skills and stay up-to-date on massage therapy techniques. Visit us online today to learn more about our courses and how they can help you renew your massage therapy license.

Another Reason Massage is Better Than OTC Pain Meds - by admin@mcb on May 07 2015

Another Reason Massage is Better Than OTC Pain Meds

Many  massage therapy clients use over-the-counter pain medicines on a regular basis for temporary relief of minor aches and pains. But it turns out they could also be “relieving” themselves of their ability to feel the maximum amount of joy in life.

Researchers at the Ohio State University recently concluded a study that showed that medications that contain acetaminophen (drugs like Tylenol, Benadryl, Dayquil, Nyquil, Anacin, Midol, and many more) dull not only the aches and pains their users are targeting, but can also dull emotions. According to the website Medication Use Safety Training for Seniors (www.mustforseniors.org), acetaminophen is the “most common drug ingredient in America.”

Photo from Shutterstock
Photo from Shutterstock

The Ohio study consisted of 82 college students, some of whom took a placebo and some of whom were given 1000 milligrams of acetaminophen. The students were then shown a series of 40 photographs that were designed specifically to trigger an emotional response, some heartwarming and others disturbing. (Examples: people happily playing with cute pets, children experiencing the pain of malnutrition). The study showed that the students who had received the drug reacted with considerably less emotion to both types of photos as compared with the students who had taken the placebo.

The lead author of the study, Geoffrey Durso, a doctoral student in social psychology at Ohio State University, said, “This means that using Tylenol or similar products might have broader consequences than previously thought.” He continued,  “Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever.”

Another of the study’s authors, Baldwin Way, assistant professor of psychology, stated that the students in the study were not aware of the effect the drug was having on their emotions, failing to recognize that they were reacting differently than if they had not been given the drug.

As much as 23% of the American adult population (52 million people) take this drug every week, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

Wouldn’t you rather relieve your pain with massage, than take a drug that can limit your joy in life?