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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 self-care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-care. Show all posts

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Favorite Shoes To Wear For Massage

I used to work barefoot (for hands-on massage, not to be confused with doing barefoot massage), and while I loved it, my body did not love standing on a hard floor all day with no arch support.

Because I also do ashiatsu, I needed shoes that could easily be slipped on or off as well as easily cleaned and sanitized throughout the day if needed.

One of my clients told me about Oofos* sandals. I LOVE THESE SANDALS. They are perfect for working in. I just keep them at my office as my work shoes. My back and knees are so much happier since I've been wearing these!

Have you found an awesome pair of shoes to work in? Let us know in the comments.

best shoes for massage therapists to wear

*Thank you for supporting our small business. Profits made from retail sales / affiliate links are reinvested in caffeine for our developers for Bodywork Buddy so we can continue to provide you with the best services possible.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Better You, Better Massages- Good Self-Care Practices for Massage Therapists {Guest Post by M. Simpson, LMT}

Better You, Better Massages- Good Self-Care Practices for Massage Therapists
By M. Simpson, LMT

I didn’t understand it at the time, but I started massage training right when my undiagnosed, chronic inflammatory disorder was worsening. Learning self-care was a trial by fire. Poor mechanics that my instructors warned would hurt after a few years would be hurting me within hours. I was a human crystal ball, reflecting the eventual reality of what repetitive strain would do to a body. This guide will help you build a self-care plan to avoid that fate, instead staying relaxed, strong and pain-free for yourself and your clients through years of practice.

Self-care isn’t an indulgence. It’s a necessity. As human tools, our bodies are the single most valuable asset to our practices. We need as much or more care than we give our clients. Even in the short-term, aching hands and a scattered mind will deprive your clients of the deep, attentive massages they need for
quality care. Whether you’re fresh out of school or experienced and already aching, it’s never too late to do right by your body.

Tweet: Self-care isn’t an indulgence. It’s a necessity.
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Self-care isn’t an indulgence. It’s a necessity. 

What Counts As Poor Self-Care
To start fixing your routine, you first have to know what's broken. Poor self-care is anything that needlessly strains or neglects your physical or mental wellbeing. Make a list of any aspect of your routine that you think could use work. Scrutinize and be brutally honest. Most MTs I meet are loathe to admit their self-care pitfalls, but remember that imperfections are just opportunities to be greater than you are now.

A few common issues include:
  • Poor body mechanics
  • Brushing off acute and chronic pain
  • Never stretching or addressing your own stiff muscles
  • Neglecting supportive equipment
  • Dismissing overworking and stress

Building a Self-Care Routine
Go down your list of concerns and ask yourself why each issue exists, what you're going to do about it and what you can do to keep it from becoming a problem again. From little things like replacing your work shoes regularly to big goals like going on vacation, start developing a
regular routine.

If you’re motivated by specific goals, ask yourself what the goal of your self-care plan is. Make it simple and achievable. If it’s something you feel like you’ve achieved every time you complete your routine, you’re more likely to make a habit of it.

Key Elements of a Self-Care Routine
  • Correcting and Adapting Body Mechanics
  • Self-Care Exercises
  • Addressing Pain and Injury
  • Stress Management
  • Self-Assessment and Reminders

Correcting and Adapting Body Mechanics All massage therapists know the basics of solid body mechanics, though a
refresher course never hurts. The trick is to regularly assess your mechanics and see if you could be doing anything differently.

This is especially important if you’re noticing strain on certain areas of your body. If you suffer chronic pain in your thumbs, for instance, it might be time to explore more forearm and elbow techniques or invest in tools to help your hands. Think outside the box if you’re having trouble finding solutions. When chronic pain battered my hips, I started following strain reduction tips for pregnant MTs.

Self-Care Exercises Stretching, yoga, strengthening exercises, continuing education classes, self-massage, getting a massage… The list of self-care exercise options goes on. Trying different methods is a blast, so make it your goal to experiment.

Online resources like YouTube and Pinterest can be exceptionally useful as long as you're smart about checking the source. Just punch "massage self-care" into the search bar and go. Self-care tools can be invaluable as well. Tools like foam rollers help stretch and relax broad areas while focused tools like
massage balls are great for deep tissue work.

Addressing Pain and Injury Over the years, most MTs will end up with some sort of
tendinosis or repetitive strain injury. When you start feeling chronic pain in a specific area, do something about it now, not later. Fix your body mechanics, adapt your techniques, work in new tools and see a specialist you know you can trust. Repeated injury can lead lasting damage, and lasting damage can end careers.

Stress Management
Like it or not, mental stress is just as damaging as physical stress. It's
physically damaging in and of itself and can slow healing if you're already injured. Burnout is a very real threat as well, but it's avoidable if you admit that you're not invincible. Make an uncompromising commitment to put time for yourself in your schedule. It's not selfish. It's what you need to stay healthy.

Ask yourself if your work load is reasonable, both physically and mentally. MTs that feel swallowed by financial or business matters can find plenty of help from continuing education courses, local small business resources and online communities. Think about trying stress management techniques. Mindfulness meditation is one of the most well-researched and easy to learn, but just going for a walk in an area with trees every day has been shown to reduce stress.

Tweet: Like it or not, mental stress is just as damaging as physical stress.
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Like it or not, mental stress is just as damaging as physical stress. 

Self-Assessment and Reminders Unless you take the time to stop and assess how you’re doing on a regular basis, the effects of physical and mental stress can sneak up on you. As MTs, we’re experts at meticulously addressing our client’s stresses and pains, but many of us equally good at ignoring our own concerns.

Put breaks and self-assessments on your schedule. Put them in your calendar and appointment books if you have to. Use that time to breathe, focus on your body to see how you're doing physically and see if you're feeling overwhelmed. Use tools to help keep you on-track in other areas. Download apps to track how much water you’re drinking or that monitor your sleep at night. Set a reminder to check your shoes to see if they need to be replaced. All of these little details will add up to a healthier, happier and more productive you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Beautiful Essential Oil Recipe and How to Track Oil Sales in Your Massage Business
I've been a massage therapist for a loooong time. I've had lots of massage friends/colleagues get heavily involved in essential oils over the years, and while I've always enjoyed oils, I just never really got into them. Or at least, not at the level my friends did. (You know, basically carrying around a case of them everywhere they went.) I always thought "yeah, that'd be cool, but I just don't have the <time, money, energy, knowledge> to get into it right now."

Well, I don't know if I just needed more time in the field to familiarize myself with all other modalities and aspects I was interested in to the point of fatigue, or if the timing was just right, or what... but I've recently really gotten into oils. I'm not quite that girl with the case, yet, but I think I might be on my way. ;)

I signed up with DoTerra oils and have been getting new oils monthly. (This isn't a post about oil brands or why you should use one over the other or blah blah blah....I'm not interested in arguing that point and really just want to enjoy oils and it just so happened that DoTerra presented itself at the right time in my life when I was ready to finally take the plunge into the world of oils.)

It's been fun and I'm digging learning new things that I can apply in my practice as well as my personal life. (I'm in love with diffusing and roller bottles! Who knew?)

I'm in love with diffusing and roller bottles! Who knew?

I'm not to the point of offering any for resale to my clients yet, but it got me thinking about the MT's who do sell oils or other products in their practice. Wondering how to track your sales and record income from that?

It's actually pretty easy to do within Bodywork Buddy.

  • First, create a service group of oils or whatever product you're selling.
  • Second, add products (called services in BWB) into that service group, and have them set to "private". This will keep them from showing on your online scheduler as an option to schedule, but will still allow you to add them to a session record when a client purchases one.
  • When a client buys an oil, simply create a new session record for the sale with the product as the service. Or, add a 2nd service line item in the session record for their massage appointment.

You can run a services report at any time to see how much of what product you have sold over the year. *Note: there is no way to track inventory within BWB. So if you have a huge amount of products in stock, this might not be the solution for you. But if you're a solo massage therapist like myself, this works great.

Thanks to Susan for this great pin!
I've been creating my own roller bottles and thought I would share a little recipe with you I found on Pinterest. It's pretty yum.

  • 30 drops of grounding blend (also known as Balance)
  • 30 drops of calming blend (also known as Serenity)
  • 15 drops of Vetiver
Fill remainder of the 10ml roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil, shake well and roll on to feet, back of neck, behind ears, or your wrists.

I've also found a cool podcast about aromatherapy where I can learn more while doing housework or working in the yard. ;) Gotta love that. Thanks to Hillary Arrieta of Gaia Bodywork for sharing this with me!
Aromatic Wisdom Podcast

So once I get more knowledgable on oils, I'm going to start offering them to clients and tracking it within BWB. In the meantime, I'm off to play some more with my new hobby.

I made a roller bottle recipe for heartburn for a family member and it's working wonders. So I'm a goner now. I will be that girl with all the oils, annoying everyone she knows with "have you tried essential oils?" and I CAN'T WAIT.

I will be that girl with all the oils, annoying everyone she knows with "have you tried essential oils?"

What are some of your favorite oil blends or what are some of your success stories with oils? Let me know in a comment here so I can try it out!

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.

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.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

How Do You Find Balance?

I've recently gotten back into doing yoga, and it's been amazing. Over the past few years with doing Bodywork Buddy, I've slowly started spending more and more time on the computer and less time doing the things that fill me back up and take care of myself - like yoga. I didn't realize how much I was really needing this until I started taking classes again.

It's helped me be more in the present, not only in class and other areas of my life, but specifically in my massage practice. I've found myself working more slowly, taking more time in each stroke, and watching the clock less. Even changing up my routines and techniques more while really listening to my client's bodies. Of course, I'd like to say that I alway do this ... but after 16 years of doing massage, the truth is sometimes I'm just on autopilot. 

It's been refreshing to see my work in a new light since doing yoga regularly. I wasn't expecting this result from starting up a yoga practice again, it's been a pleasant surprise. I'm really enjoying my massage work more lately, and I feel like I'm doing better work with my clients.

According to Karina Braun, Yoga will help you as a massage therapist to gain awareness in your body and help you to improve your posture and alignment while you work. Increasing flexibility while helping to prevent injury, yoga can help you do massage for years to come.

What other things do you do to help fill your cup and keep you balanced to be a better massage therapist?

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Got Issues in Your Tissues?

Today's blog post is an interview with Shannon Gilmartin, instructor for ACE Massage Cupping.
I hosted a workshop with Shannon at my studio a few years ago and absolutely LOVED her class.  I still use cupping every day in my massage practice, and my clients love it.

What exactly is massage cupping and how is it different from traditional chinese medicine cupping?Massage cupping is a modern adaptation of the ancient cupping therapies. We use cups to mimic massage techniques and as an adjunct, therapeutic technique.

What are the benefits to the client to use massage cupping?
Benefits vary widely, as massage cupping is truly as versatile a therapy as is each massage therapist. Its benefits include lymphatic drainage, loosening adhesions (from small cellulite dimpling to scar tissue and fascial bindings), moving stagnant materials/decongesting areas of the body, stimulating blood flow, hydrating and nourishing tissues that are otherwise lacking, relieving inflammation, releasing deep tissue restrictions, and sedating the nervous system. Clients receive therapeutic massage for so many different reasons and I truly think every client can enjoy this technique. Ever since I began working with massage cupping, EVERY client I have used them on has enjoyed the work and its results! Great descriptions I have heard from clients are that they feel 'more fluid mobility,' 'aired out' or that their tissue has 'breathing room' from massage cupping- how great does THAT sound!?

What are the benefits to the therapist?
The therapist benefits extensively, too. For one, massage cupping is a major vasodilator so the therapist saves their efforts to warm the tissue of their clients. Also, many of us have those clients who LOVE deep tissue but the therapists get burnt out, overuse their thumbs and struggle while the clients keep saying they can go deeper. The cups allow for quick hyperemia and hydration to their client's tissue, thereby allowing for much deeper sensations to be felt by the client with less exertion from the therapist. Also, the client feels MUCH better the next day. Many deep tissue clients feel tender and sore the following day(s) but the cups allow for much easier after effects with phenomenal, lasting results. That being said, many of us want to help our clients so very much and the results from using cups appropriately truly enable us to help release restrictions effectively and in many cases give permanent resolution!

How long have you been a therapist and how long have you been teaching?
I have been in the massage therapy business since 1999, working with Massage Cupping since 2004, and teaching with A.C.E. as an educator since 2008.

How did you come across massage cupping?
Funny yet true story: I saw an ad in a magazine for a class in Las Vegas. I wanted to go to Vegas and see my friend, learn about this technique that used fire, and the whole trip would be for business! Little did I know what a life changing experience the class would be.

Why did you decide to start teaching it?
When I left the class, I began practicing on myself and the results were amazing. I had been in a severe car accident when I was 17 and had a very large scar on my cheek and many muscular discomforts associated with the accident. I committed to working on myself regularly for a while; it began softening the rigid adhesions and scar tissue, and drew glass and sand out of the scar. Eventually my face looked almost 'normal' again. I contacted Anita Shannon with my enthusiastic testimonial and asked if they were ever interested in someone to help them... and here I am :)

What conditions have you successfully treated with massage cupping?
Wow, honestly too many to list. A few stellar examples: I am passionate about the scar tissue work and over the course of a year’s constant work, I helped dissolve 30-year, almost full-body, scar tissue (client had gastric bypass over 30 years ago, and followed by a brutal skin removal surgery which left thick rope-like scars from elbows to knees)! I am also passionate about working with amputees and have had amazing results with not only alleviating phantom pains but also helping purge the old blood, debris and medications from the remaining limb's tissue. The pulmonary results have been impressive; I have a COPD client who 'breathes because of me' and I have been able to help improve her quality of life, It is such rewarding work! I have helped avoid surgeries to 'clean out the area' for all natures of injuries. Athletes have quickly recovered from both injuries and intense sporting events – with enhanced performance, too! Post plastic surgery clients have accelerated healing from the drainage done with the cups. Diabetic, necrotic tissue that goes from open fissures and black tissue to no fissures and light brown coloration! And of course, there are people who say 'I can handle the deepest pressure you can give me.' I first use the cups a little, then BARELY give them DEEP work and they say WHOA!!! See!? I could go on and on. 

What do you like best about teaching massage cupping?
Sharing this awesome technique and its potential, and then seeing every student just GET IT. Every class, every student truly enjoys it and I see 'light bulbs' every time! It is so rewarding to be able to help pass this along because (I believe) every body can benefit from this in some capacity.

I am honored to work with Anita Shannon and the other educators in A.C.E., as I honestly feel our work changes lives. Words cannot convey the reward we get day in and day out from people all over the world and seeing how much our work helps. Cupping is as old as time, but these techniques Anita created and how we all cohesively came to share massage cupping and vacutherapies as both educators and bodyworkers is by far the most rewarding experience I have had.

My website is; our national website is We offer classes all year long, everywhere!!

A huge thanks to Shannon for this interview and for the awesome class she taught at my studio!

Check out this video of some massage cupping done by founder Anita Shannon:

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 of 14 years.