November 16, 2013

Too Big for Massage or Too Dark?

The question comes up. A caller on the phone, looking for a massage. I had no openings. Let this massage therapist say for the record that I really had no openings.

We talked for a while, a male voice on the phone, pretty husky voice. A Carolina accent.

Sometimes you wonder, the caller said. You wonder if when I call and there’s no openings, if someone calls later who sounds white and there are plenty of openings. I’ve heard it happens.

I’m not like that, I said. But I have heard it from another client, a large, deep-voiced African-American actor. It just might happen. He told me he had a hard time finding someone who would do a good massage on him, you know, the kind of massage that makes you want to come back.

Oh yeah, I’ve had those, too, he said. Massages so bad they feel like an oil slick. Terrible. You wonder if the massage is bad because they don’t want to see you again.

That’s not me, nor my practice. But I do wonder. Are men, particularly ethnic-sounding or looking men, on an avoid list because of the difficulty of the massage - or therapists’ unfamiliarity with them?

Hope not. Massage therapists are free, of course, to choose their clients. It is a skill. But a professional therapist cannot discourage a client for a discriminatory reason – sex, race or religion. Even if those things might imply that a person might be harder to work on.

Yeah, my caller said. One time a lady told me to change my voice because it was probably scaring some massage therapists. I just sound like I sound, he said. That’s me.

November 8, 2013

What Good Would Massage Do?

A friend shared an experience with me. His stiff back had become worse recently. After sitting for a while at his desk, if he turned the wrong way when getting up or reached too far, ZAP! A pain would
shoot down his leg from the low back to the knee.

“It just takes my breath away,” he said. “It really gets my attention.”

This gentleman has played football, fought in the war, and built suburbs. If the pain is bad enough to rob his breath, I am on alert.

A few trips to the doctor and he was diagnosed with foramen stenosis, a term that means osteoarthritis – calcifications and inflammation - were taking up residence in the area where spinal nerves exit L4-L5. The osteoarthritis pushed against the nerve bundle as he tried to move. Hence the ZAP!

I inquired about the plan.

“Well, I went to p.t. and at first the stretches seemed to help, but then they made things worse. It’s not bad enough to operate on yet. I am just trying to move my back as little as possible.”

Good heavens. I had to speak.

“Have you considered doing some massage?”

“What good would massage do?”

Oh yes, sometimes this question comes up. I happily urge all massage therapists to answer it when it does.

Too often people think inflammation and calcifications of osteoarthritis are set in stone. They move less and less, giving the condition a wide-open opportunity to get much, much, worse.

Well, massage therapy alleviates back pain, inflammation and swelling. It is why we train to do what we do. I mentioned a recent study that found general, non-specific massage helped reduce stenosis pain.

He asked if massage could fix the problem.

The study didn’t go long enough to figure that out, I explained. The big result is that people felt better and thus did more and felt healthier.

Do massage therapists think gentle rubbing can reduce osteoarthritis? Or “just“relieve it? I think we know the answer, don’t we?

November 2, 2013

Jump Out of the Recycle Bin: Work-Finding Tips for Massage Therapists…

Most job hunts for massage therapists starts with the cover letter
email and attached resume. It’s the first introduction to a potential employer.

Grab this opportunity to make a great impression!

I have come up with some tips based on my experience interviewing and hiring therapists. These may seem elemental, but many people will be surprised how often applicants skip these steps, sending their first contact into the trash bin folder.


1. When an ad for employment lists requirements such as insurance, licensing, certification, etc., the applicant should be specific in listing those credentials. This means including the proper title, registrant number, issuance date and expiration. Believe it or not, I have seen resumes claiming “state license” in states that do not have licenses. Also, a massage class certificate is not a “license.”

2. Be clear if you do not have a credential. You can always say you qualify - if you really qualify - and will get the credential before starting work.

3. Please use spell check. When an applicant spells their title as “theraspit” it suggests lack of diligence and care, qualities many employers value highly.

4. List prior work experience even if it is in another field. Many massage therapists are on their second or third career, and unrelated work experience boosts applicant credibility.

5. Pictures are optional. Applications are not dating ads. That being said, if you think a picture will get you on top of the list, use it.

6. If you don’t get interviews, ask if there is anything you could do to improve your application for the next potential interview. Many employers will be happy to give you tips. It might also signal a willingness to learn, a quality that will get you noticed.

Good Luck!