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Bodywork Buddy: business management software for the solo therapist that keeps you organized and makes tax time a breeze.

Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

3 Things Massage School Didn't Teach You About the Business of Massage and Why {Guest Post by Hillary Arrieta, LMT}

Owning a massage business is hard. There are many moving parts and massage school didn't cover any of them. It's true that massage training did not prepare us for all of the difficulties we come across on a daily basis. 

As a massage educator, I've heard the complaints for years. "Why didn't we learn this in massage school?" Or "my school didn't prepare me for this." It can be a sobering reality to find out that once you're out of school and in "the real world" you will need ADDITIONAL information, training, and resources to make it in this profession. 

Whether you choose to become an independent small business, buy a franchise, or work for someone else, you'll probably need more training every year just to stay up to date on your education. You'll need even more education to master your craft as a business owner. 

I've compiled a short list of things massage training didn't teach you about the business of massage and why, along with helpful resources to get you pointed in the right direction. 

1. How to do taxes, file a business structure, and manage finances. 

Massage therapy training is just that. We train you to be thoughtful, skilled massage therapists; not bookkeepers, business lawyers, or accountants. These are special skills all on their own and you'll need to build a team of qualified professionals in these fields to help you. People in these professions have degrees and have gone to college for many years to know what they know. Obviously, teaching you this in massage school is impossible and totally inappropriate. All small businesses work with pros to make things run smoothly in their businesses and so will you. Get some good referrals from trusted friends and start building your team. 

Which brings me to number two:
2. How to be a small business owner. 

Massage school isn't business school (duh!). That's okay because there are many resources out there to help you learn this new set of skills. Some of my favorites are which is a mentoring group of retired business owners who volunteer their time and skills to help small business owners thrive. How awesome is that? 

Chances are good that you have a group near you. They also host frequent business oriented workshops. 

I also got a lot out of web marketing classes online. I always recommend Marie Forleo's programs and all her free content on YouTube. She gives solid, classy advice and has some great suggestions that have really helped me in running my practice. I also highly suggest The Right-Brained Business Plan by Jennifer Lee. She really helped me put together a beautiful plan that was both creative and practical. 

3. How to be a good manager. 

Being a good manager of time, people, and tasks are really important skills in the business of massage. We have to manage our clients, our session times, and all of the endless "to do's" while running our massage businesses. This can be overwhelming. Add in a few employees and that can be even more overwhelming. 

Massage school doesn't carve out time in the already jam packed curriculum to prepare you for this. The hard truth of the matter is that not everyone is cut out for this part of owning a practice. 

Once you've discovered that your personal constitution is hardy enough to take on this level of business ownership, it's time to dig deeply into self-awareness and self-development (Yikes!). Finding a mentor or emulating a leader that you admire can be a great way to learn.

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, and Donald O. Clifton.

About the author:
Hillary Arrieta is a massage therapist and massage educator in the Dallas, Texas area. She owns Gaia Bodywork and specializes in barefoot massage. You can find out more at

Need help with your massage marketing content? Check out Bodywork Media.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Retooling Your Barefoot Massage

I had the good fortune to be a guest client for Mary-Claire and Abigail’s FasciAshi FUNdamentals class in Battle Creek, Michigan this past weekend. Even after having taught barefoot massage for 10 years and practicing it for longer, I had some “ah-ha” moments when receiving FasciAshi. (YOU GUYS, the anterior neck work is amaaazing.)

I received some of the work in the afternoon on the first day. I felt like what I received on the first day was better-than-average first-day-of-class work. It seemed to me that the way this class is structured had the students starting with full body strokes with their feet that make it easier to delve in with working with the feet for the first time, and easier to receive for the client… then working their way up to more specific strokes.

The definition of FasciAshi:
Ashiatsu barefoot massage focusing on exploration of how to engage tissue with each stroke using myofascial release, trigger point, deep tissue and ROM techniques applied by your feet.

I’m here to tell you, if you think you know all there is to know about ashiatsu and working with your feet, I can guarantee you will find some awesome value in the FaschiAshi classes. This is NOT your grandmother’s barefoot massage.
Mary-Claire Fredette
teaching how to install
bars in ashiatsu class

The guest clients on the last day of class were people I have had as guest clients for classes throughout the years, and one even said that this was the “best yet” massage from a class he’d received. And I really feel it’s not only the type of work, but in the way that it was taught - with the goal to help the therapists in class start thinking with their feet and working with intention rather than just following a routine.

Interested in learning more about these ashiatsu classes? Check them out at Center for Barefoot Massage. I’m planning to take some of their classes in 2018 myself.

What great continuing ed classes have you taken recently? Give them a shout-out in the comments, I'd love to hear what your favorites have been.

Cindy Iwlew is a licensed massage therapist who has had a private practice since 1999 and cofounder of Bodywork Buddy massage software.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Manual Therapy for the Anterior Neck {Guest Post by Dawn Lewis}

Manual Therapy for the Anterior Neck
By Dawn Lewis

Recently I read an article about a woman suing a massage therapist and Massage Envy.  The woman believes that the massage therapist was aggressive enough on her anterior neck that it lead to a stroke.  I do not know if this is possible, but I do not know that it is impossible.  Since that article there have been multiple facebook postings about why bodyworkers should be afraid of the anterior neck.  This I completely disagree with.

We do not make bodywork safer for our clients by being afraid of their bodies or what is happening to them.  We make bodywork safer for our clients by being as educated as we can be.  There are times when we need to send our clients to medical professionals such as doctors, physical therapists, or chiropractors.  But when we see an apparently healthy individual and we are afraid to touch certain areas of their bodies, we do ourselves and our clients a disservice.

We do not make bodywork safer for our clients by being afraid of their bodies

The anterior neck, in particular, is an area we should all know how to work.  Why?  Because humans spend a good deal of their time right now with their necks in flexion and their heads down looking at their devices.  This leads to shortened, tight musculature in the anterior neck.  Shortened, tight musculature in the anterior neck can cause a multitude of issues.

First, a muscle named longus colli runs the length of the anterior cervical vertebrae.  When that muscle is tight, the cervical spine is in flexion.  This pulls the lordotic curve out of the cervical vertebrae, moving the vertebrae toward the posterior plane of the body.  As the neck straightens and moves posterior, the clavicles and sternal manubrium move posterior as well.  This position of the clavicles and manubrium moves the upper rib cage posterior and the scapulas into abduction.  As the scapulas move into abduction, the shoulders round forward.  This all started with a shortened longus colli.

Next, we could look at longus capitis.  Longus capitis originates on the transverse processes of C3 through C6 and inserts on anterior aspect of the bottom of the occiput.  Again, this muscle tightens when we have our head in flexion looking at our devices, reading a book or magazine, doing bodywork, etc..  But this muscle is attached to the head.  When it tightens, it pulls the anterior aspect of the head toward the chest (think chin toward chest).  The natural antagonist muscles to longus capitis are the suboccipital muscles.  In this position, the suboccipital muscles are in stretched position, leading to weakness, and the possibility for suboccipital headaches.

Finally, a head down position leads to tension in the muscles attaching to the hyoid bone in the anterior neck.  These muscles attach the sternum, thyroid cartilage, head, and scapula to the hyoid.  As the chin moves toward the chest, the hyoid is moved inferior and posterior, causing tension in all the hyoid muscles.  This can lead to pain and tension in the mandible, the temporomandibular joints, or the shoulders.

It is imperative that we learn to treat the anterior neck in an effective way.  I have been teaching anterior neck work for decades.  I teach Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique (SMRT), a positional release modality I made up a couple of decades ago.  I was always fascinated by the anterior neck, but while in basic training for massage therapy 23 years ago, I had a learning experience.

I was in my third level massage course, which happened to be neuromuscular.  Please understand that I am in no way being negative about neuromuscular therapy, I am simply telling you about an experience I had.  One day, another student and I decided that we really needed to practice.  We had been avoiding the neck work because we were not very comfortable receiving it in class.  But we had to know it to pass, so we needed to practice it.  I went first.

I did the full neuromuscular neck protocol on her.  It took about an hour.  That night we had class.  When I saw her in class, her neck was red and looked marbled.  It looked like hamburger, I thought.  She was in pain.  I felt terrible.  The red, marbled look and the pain lasted for almost three days.  This turned me off to doing deeper work on the neck.  When I began to develop SMRT, I spent many hours studying the neck and figuring out how I could affect the neck without causing pain.

If we look at our examples above, it is extremely easy to relieve tension in longus colli.  At one point in my career, I was taught to go into the anterior neck, move the esophagus to the side and cross fiber this muscle.  I have it more effective to place my hand on the top of head and manipulate the head position until I get a release in longus colli.  The pressure of my hand on the top of the head is minimal, as are the movements I make to find the correct position.  When longus colli regains length, the curve in the cervical spine begins to reappear.

When the flexion of the cervical vertebrae eases and the natural lordotic curve begins to re-establish itself, the cervical spine moves away from the posterior plane and into a more neutral position.  This allows the clavicles and manubrium to move into an anterior plane, and the scapulas to move to a more neutral position on the back. As a side note, when the clavicles and manubrium move to the posterior plane, as they do when the neck is too straight, a significant amount of tension is created in lower fibers of sternocleidomastoid.  Allowing the position of these bones to move toward a more natural anterior position, instantly eases the pressure on sternocleidomastoid.

In our next example, we had tension in longus capitis that was causing suboccipital muscle weakness and possibly headaches.  Many times this pattern leads to a report from the client that the "problem" is at the base of their head.  When we palpate the suboccipital area, it feels tight, so we work that area.  But, I find that by again placing my hand on the top of the head and moving the head into the needed position, longus capitis is able to release and allow the chin to come away from the chest, which lessens the stretch on and alleviates the pain in the suboccipital muscles.

In both of these examples, I do not have to work directly on the anterior neck.  In our third example, however, direct anterior neck work is beneficial.  SMRT allows us to do this work in a non-intrusive, gentle fashion, while still getting the desired results.  All of the hyoid muscles can be released and returned to normal tone by working with the position of the hyoid, the thyroid cartilage, and the sternum.

Some therapists believe that it is impossible to get the results a client needs by working with a light touch or by working remotely (i.e. using the head to release the neck muscles).  But I believe it is impossible to get the desired results without knowing the possible reasons for the tension in the muscles being addressed and while working in a way that causes pain and tension.  I have taught anterior neck work to almost 2000 therapists (and that number will continue to grow).  Anterior neck work is not something to be frightened of, it is something to be learned and understood.

In my last SMRT: head & neck class, there was a older woman who had been doing massage for over 30 years.  When we got to the anterior neck, she said to me, "I don't really want to practice this because I will never use it.  It scares me and I will never do it to my clients.  But I don't want to disappoint my partner either."  I encouraged her to try it in class, with the understanding that her partner would be very vocal about whether she was hurting her or not.

45 minutes later, by releasing the anterior neck muscles, she felt a significant change in the position of the hyoid and her partners chin had come into an anterior plane.  Her partner sat up, rotated her head around, sighed, and said, "that was awesome!  Thank you so much!  I slept funny last night.  I had a headache and that catch in my throat that makes you want to cough all the time, feels like a knife stuck in your throat.  It's all gone now.  That was great!"

When I see training experiences like this, I get rather irritated at the facebook posts that insight fear and tell us to stop treating this area immediately.  It is essential that we work on the anterior neck, yet most of the students in my SMRT courses do not work this area when they come to class.  Within the few hours that we concentrate on the anterior neck, they become confident in their ability to effect change without causing pain.  If you feel you do not know enough to work this area, by all means, don't - until you have taken a class, and then by all means, do work the anterior neck.

Dawn Lewis owns Full Circle School and teaches Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique or SMRT. Please check out the Full Circle website for live seminar dates, course videos, free sample videos, and other articles. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pillossage Class

I took Pillossage with Karen Kowal a few weeks ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It's no secret I love Mother Earth Pillows (they're like heaven!), and I've been wanting to learn the thermal connective tissue release technique that Karen created using them ever since I first saw it at NERC (AMTA New England Regional Conference) in 2008. I was working in the Ashiatsu Deepfeet Bar Therapy booth, but got a chance to check out the other booths and fell in love with the aromatic Mother Earth Pillows. I hadn't gotten a chance to receive the work at that time. (Bummer!)

I found in class that it's nearly impossible to stay awake while receiving this work!  It completely zones clients out while receiving it. It's a great addition to any session, especially for those chatty clients that can't seem to relax.

From that first feather stroke down the body wrap pillow over the spine, clients seem to just sink into the table a bit more and really open up to receive. It's a gentle technique making it work well for most clients.

My clients comment all the time on the great aroma of the pillows. I've been incorporating them into my work for a while (mostly just to help keep clients warm) but after Karen's class, I have all sorts of awesome tricks to add in to my sessions with the warm pillows.

I found this arm and shoulder work in class especially yummy:

Went to write this blog post and realized I didn't get any pics with Karen while in class! Looks like I might have to make a road trip to her next class sometime soon for the self-care workshop she teaches. ;)

Cindy Iwlew is co-founder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software, a complete online management solution for independent massage therapists that includes online scheduling

She continues to operate her own private massage practice since 1999.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why Fijian Massage is the Secret Ingredient to a Long Massage Career

massage softwareA few weeks ago, I hosted a Fijian Massage class with founder Lolita Knight.  (along with a few other of her CE classes).  With the help of her “professional massage model” Mark, too of course!

Lolita has been a practicing massage therapist for over 30 years.  Here’s an article she has written explaining the history of Fijian Massage.

My girlfriend Rosemarie is quarter Fijian, quarter Chinese and half Kiwi.  In 1998 we traveled to Fiji to visit her relatives on several of the smaller of the Fijian Islands. On the island of Kadavu, I met her cousin Simonis.  He was the village “massage therapist”.  On this island there were no roads, no electricity except for a few generators, no indoor plumbing (outhouse), no hot water (a communal COLD WATER shower instead) and of course no TV.

Despite this, living with her relatives was one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had.  It made me think a lot about my life and the role money plays in it.  The Fijian people have very little financial resources, yet they live one of the richest lives I have ever seen.  LOVE is everywhere: especially for the children.  And LAUGHTER.  I wanted to learn Fijian just so I could be part of that ever-constant humor.  Plus FAITH: a faith that is rich in its strength and actions.  The Fijian community made me feel so welcomed, loved and for the first time I experienced unconditional love.

Rosemarie’s cousin Simonis, had wanted to give me a massage, but I was on holiday.  With 20 years of massage experience, I wanted a break and felt I would need to give him some lessons.  So I put him off for a few days.  Finally I agreed and I was truly amazed.  I certainly wasn’t going to the be the teacher.  Simonis had a very rapt student who wanted to learn everything he had to share.

Simonis had learned this massage, which I have called “Fijian Massage”, when he was 7 years of age.  When any of the villagers had sore or damaged muscles, they would seek out Simonis.  Massage Therapy is not a paid occupation for Simonis.  He simply gives of his time and talent to help his friends and neighbors.  Sometimes he is very busy and his main activity is attending his own plantation of taro and pineapple.  Therefore, he doesn’t have a great deal of time to spend giving massages.

I feel this is why such an effective massage technique has been handed down generation to generation to generation.  The people HAVE TO have strong and efficient muscles to survive as their bodies are their source of transport, work is very labor intensive and there is no social welfare for those unable to work.  And the therapist doesn’t have an “hour” to fix people so the method evolved that fixed people quickly.

In Fiji, the client would lie on the ground or a Fijian woven mat and Simonis would use mainly his feet, sometimes his hands to release the tension and repair the damaged tissue.  I have made many modifications to his technique to make it more comfortable for both the client and the therapist.  I have also created a method that ONLY uses the feet to help save therapist’s hands from repetitive movement injury.

I am ever so grateful for the method that Simonis taught me that I donate to the people in the Fijian villages as this can help them in their difficult financial situations.

When I returned to New Zealand (where I had lived for 20 years), I felt that Kiwis would not relate to lying on the floor and me using my feet to massage them.  So for 6 months I did not use the “FIJIAN MASSAGE”.  Then one day a client came to me with severe leg scar tissue and wanted to run a marathon in 6 weeks.  I knew the only way to help him was with the Fijian Massage technique.  He was desperate and willing to try anything so I convinced him of the Fijian Massage done with my feet.  He not only was able to run the marathon, but also beat his previous best time.  Then I tentatively recommended that my regular clients try the Fijian Massage.  Now over 80% of my clients prefer the Fijian Massage to the other deep tissue sport massages that I offer.

online scheduling
Why is the Fijian Massage so popular?  Mainly my clients want a deep massage that is also relaxing.  Prior to doing the Fijian Massage I did Deep Tissue Cross Fiber Massage with a lot of my method using my elbow.  While it was pointed and got to the troubled area, it was a “sharp” pain.  With the Fijian I do my  main deep work with my heel.  This deep pressure is softer that my elbow, yet it is a stronger stroke.  Plus my clients find that the repair happens much quicker with the Fijian Barefoot Massage.

If you think about it, the foot has stronger bones and the leg muscles are more powerful than the arm.  Try this: rotate your lateral edge of your foot on the floor laterally.  Now put your hand on the floor and do the same thing.  It is obvious that your foot is much, much stronger than your hand.

One thing I really enjoy with using my foot and leg (and abdomen) is that not only does it relax the use of your hands, but it also gives your legs and abdomen good workout; therefore adding more balance to your own muscular structure.

massage software
Fijian To Go: working with client seated
With the Fijian Massage you use your toes, lateral and medial edge of your foot, the pad, bunion bone point, the base of your heel, the edge of your heel and the back of your heel.  You can massage all parts of your client except the face.

When I reflect, I feel that it is amazing that this technique that I learned quite by accident on a remote island in Fiji, where I learned to accept cold showers as a pleasant way of life, is being taught all over the world.  I feel forever grateful to the warm and amazing villagers on the remote island of Fiji that shared and taught me a technique that I firmly believe will enhance deep tissue sport massage for both the therapist and client.

Lolita is a great teacher with amazing energy.  I’m so grateful I was able to learn from her before her retirement!  If you’re interested in learning Fijian Massage, you can find classes offered from her team of instructors by visiting

Cindy (me), Ginger, Lolita, Mark
Many thanks to Lolita and Mark for the wonderful class and many laughs!

Tweetable: Why is Fijian #massage so popular? via @BodyworkBuddy