Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2013

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Page 73 of 140

Find Your Passion When I graduated from massage school, there was little opportunity to work for someone else, so I knew I would be starting and operating a business. Today, there are all kinds of opportunities for massage therapists. No matter what you choose, it is important you find your passion and continually cultivate it. To do this you must build on your fundamental skills and learn what clients you want to work with and what techniques you love. You may have always known that you want to work with athletes, people with low-back pain, pregnant women, seniors, or another population. You may have fallen in love with Swedish or deep-tissue massage in massage school, or lymphatic drainage, neuromuscular massage, or some other modality in a CE class. On the other hand, if you work in a spa or a medical setting, the menu of services may dictate what kind of massage you practice. In employment settings, there may be opportunities to take a management role. Or, you may be drawn to teaching others, either in a primary education setting or in a CE class. If you are at the beginning of your career, try on different hats and see where your passion lies. Once you figure out your passion, commit yourself to excellence in that area. Gear all your marketing and professional networking efforts toward it, learn as much as you can, and continually refine your skills. For example, if you love working with people with neck pain, target your efforts toward communicating your expertise and passion. Your title may be "neck specialist," and your tag line, "Specializing in the treatment of neck pain." You may learn all about current research on the treatment of neck pain and share this in your social media avenues. If you have not focused your efforts on your passion, take time to reevaluate your practice. Find a new passion or refocus on an old one. Follow the steps aboveā€”it's never too late to reinvent yourself and your massage career. Hot and cold packs are my next essentials. I often use them to help prepare the client's muscles and soft tissue to receive the massage, as well as to maximize the effects of the massage session. Generally, I use cold applications if a client presents with an acute injury, pain, or spasm in a particular area. Conversely, I use heat on clients with chronic stiffness, tension, or sore muscles. In most massage sessions, I use a long hot pack along the spine from the upper thoracic to the upper lumbar vertebrae, known to control the sympathetic nervous system that regulates the stress response. Work Smarter, Not Harder Finally, continually seek ways to work smarter, not harder, in your practice. For example, I closely monitor myself for burnout, losing interest, and being exhausted from day-to-day practice. If I notice signs of this, I take immediate action by scheduling time off as soon as possible and invoking my self-care routine. I also look for affordable ways to spend less time on the details of my practice, outsourcing business activities to other experts and organizing a yearly strategic business planning session. There are many combinations of ways to achieve longevity in the massage therapy profession. I hope you find the combination that allows you to consistently step back, reevaluate, and ensure you are taking care of yourself, your clients, and your massage practice. Mary Beth Braun owns, and is the chief massage therapist at, One Body Therapeutic Massage in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is also a life and health coach, and coauthor of Introduction to Massage Therapy with Stephanie Simonson (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007). Contact her at Given that most clients experience a 24-7, chaotic pace of life, and are often in fight-or-flight mode, I use heat to facilitate relaxation and the parasympathetic response. My final tool is a marble, flat-edged massage stone. I use this when a client presents with an area that has adhesion, scar tissue, or tension. I use the stone, with little or no lubricant, to provide a broad surface to help break up the tissue in the area. Using this tool helps me save my thumbs and hands. See what benefits await you. 71

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