Songs for Weird Massage Therapists

As a Spotify user, the playlist feature comes in pretty handy.

By “handy”, I mean I’ve actually put together a collection of songs having to do with touching, rubbing, or those silly things found at the distal ends of our forearms.

Although several of these tracks were originally meant to be filtered through the speakers of our sex-crazed society where sensuality is inextricably linked to ejaculatory pursuits, please take a moment to push all boning references aside. Listen to these songs purely from the perspective of a massage therapist, and I promise you’ll be tickled. 

In case you aren’t able to access Spotify, here’s a list of the tracks currently included on Songs for Weird Massage Therapists. If you can think of more that might be a good fit, please list them in the comments section below this post. (And to those of you who helped with the initial lineup, thanks!)

1. I Want Your (Hands On Me) – Sinead O’Connor

2. Both Hands – Ani DiFranco

3. Too Much Time On My Hands – Styx

4. Slow Hands – Interpol

5. Clap Hands – Tom Waits

6. Destroy Everything You Touch – Ladytron

7. Invisible Touch – Genesis

8. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – Journey

9. Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me – Susan Sarandon (Rocky Horror Soundtrack)

10. Touch Me – The Doors

11. Human Touch – Bruce Springsteen

12. Touch Me (I Want Your Body) – Samantha Fox

13. Your hands on my skin – De/Vision (I am in love with this song, BTW.)

14. I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness

15. Healing Hands – Elton John

16. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) – Done Again (Joan Jett & The Blackhearts cover)

17. Grab It – L’Trimm

18. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

19. Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) – Diana Ross

20. Skin – Zola Jesus

21. Hands Off – Old 97’s

22. Body Party – Ciara

23. Icicle – Tori Amos

24. Sometimes When We Touch – Manny Pacquiao (whaaaaat!?!), Dan Hill

25. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey – Paul & Linda McCartney

26. Real is a Feeling – Pictureplane

27. I Wanna Hold Your Hand – Fab Again (Beatles cover)

28. I Touch Myself – Divinyls

Closing Down

Today’s guest post comes to us courtesy of Tracy Bradley. Tracy has been practicing massage therapy since 2003 in rural Arkansas. When not massaging she can be found sipping Cherry Coke, watching cat videos, reading massage discussions, or hanging out with her family. She publishes a client-centered blog at The Comfort Zone Massage. Her 8-year-old daughter creates stories about her two zany cats at Cat With a Chat. Tracy is moving over a hundred miles from home to begin a new adventure with her family!

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One month and then my massage business is closed. A month. No more clients, no more sheets, no more hot towels, no more. I feel like I’ve never done this before even though I left a different place 4 years ago. I wasn’t as emotionally involved with that place, I suppose. This place, this business is like home. I’m leaving home.

What will I do with my hands now? Will they miss the feel of flesh gliding under their fingers? Will my skin shrivel up and dry out without the daily use of massage oil? My hands, who have caressed, kneaded, rocked, pushed, pulled, rubbed, and comforted humans for the past 12 years, won’t know what do anymore. Will they lead me around searching for an aching shoulder like a forked limb leads one to “witch a well” for water? I apologize in advance to those I hug. My hands will surely try to massage your back and shoulders in what should be a brief moment.

Have you ever closed your business? Have you ever had to tell your massage clients you’re moving away and never coming back? It’s a difficult task.  After almost 4 years working as a massage therapist in a small town I’m moving away. Telling loyal, regular, make-their-appointment-before-they-leave clients is one of the most emotional things I’ve ever done.  The first eight years of my massage career were extremely part-time. The past four years were more than full-time. They were full emersion. I fully devoted most of my brain, heart, and soul to growing this business and caring for my clients. And now it ends.

I spent the week telling clients I’m leaving. A few were devastated. Most were supportive of my family’s new opportunity.  We cried. We hugged. We talked it out.

I will miss these people. Even with “good boundaries” relationships are developed. People talk. Living in such a small town many of us go to the same church, family members work together, kids attend the same schools, we go to fundraisers together, etc. We conduct our lives side-by-side. Boundaries are there but they are different than someone who lives in a place they never see their clients outside work.

All this said, I’m ready for a break. I’ve been “all in” for quite a while to make sure I supported the family while my husband was in college. I loved it most of the time. The Hustle becomes such a rush!  You try something to get more clients and your week fills up!  You write a blog and people read it and tell you they like it.  You develop a way of doing things, communicating with your clients, and operating your business. You get shit done. You try a new promotion that flops but it is still a rush because you get to brainstorm again. It never stops: the planning, writing, researching, talking, etc. It can’t stop if you want to stay busy.

I’m tired. I’m ready to shut that part of my brain off for a while. I’m ready to see if there is a Tracy inside me. She wants to laugh and smile and read and write and play and stuff.

Sharing is Caring

It’s in our nature to share feeling, thoughts, and other thing with people. I’m constantly hitting the share or retweet buttons on social media, or I’m creating my content. The Internet has made it easier to share things with people, but it’s also been a trigger point in my side (Pun intended).

I started MassageNerd.com, January of 2006, and since the beginning, I’ve noticed people stealing my photos and videos. It’s really frustrating to see my work on someone else’s website or social media account, and them not giving me credit. I’ve even seen people put their logo over my watermark and some have even cropped it out. I work hard at creating content! I just wish some people would respect that, and either buy their own, or create it themselves. I’ve even seen large massage companies stealing photos of mine – pretty sad. Someone even said: “I just do a Google search for images.” Well, I’ve got news for you; most images on Google Search are copyrighted. Even photos that you can buy usually have rules for using them. So, make sure you read the Terms of Service agreement before purchasing them. Leaving the watermark on a photo after you download it is stealing , so just don’t do it.

Facebook, and other social media websites have made it easy to share photos with a share/retweet/repin button, but some people haven’t figured that out yet. Just imagine your clients knowing that you are stealing photos from others, would YOU want to get a massage from someone who steals? It doesn’t make you look professional at all!

Have you thought about the repercussions of stealing content from others? It can vary from being asked to remove it, or you will have to pay them royalties. Adobe recently sued Forever 21 for pirating photoshop. If you would like more information on copyright, view this link (It breaks it down with questions people have about copyright laws).

Social media sites have made it easy to embed posts on your website.
Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.10.28 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.11.33 PM
As you can see, I embedded the post below…

So, the next time you want to download a photo from Facebook or other places, just hit the share button on your social media profiles, or embed it on your website.

Ryan Hoyme is the owner of MassageNerd.com and RyanHoyme.com

Credit Where Credit’s Due

A couple of months ago my friend Jon and I were gallivanting around town, cameras in hand. We snapped, filtered, cropped, ate undercooked soft pretzels and posted about our adventures on social media. This is what we often do when we hang out, and it’s just one reason we’re friends.

One of my shots from that day’s shenanigans turned out pretty well (if I do say so myself). I posted it on Instagram with the usual tags. It got some social media love, and was even used (with permission and with proper photo credit given) on two local blogs to illustrate stories. Huzzah!

I think the weirdness started when a local casino regrammed the photo without giving me credit. Then it appeared – again, without credit — on a local government office’s Twitter feed. I thought the wild ride had ended, until just the other day when a local small business regrammed the photo (do I even need to say without credit?) AND had added their own logo to the mix. *cues Twilight Zone theme music*

This photo of my kitty niece is not the photo I'm talking about.

This photo of my hairy niece is not the photo I’m talking about.

Look, mistakes happen. I’m not claiming to be Saint Andrea here. I may have at some point in time uploaded a snippet of laser-riffic or double neck guitar concert footage to the interwebs. One time I took photos at a Holocaust museum exhibit because I didn’t see the signs forbidding photography until after I had already been through the building. (Even though they were serious, respectful photos and this happened a long time ago, I still feel a little bit embarrassed by this tacky error.)

But I don’t “regram” without giving credit. If I like something on Facebook enough to post it on my page, I use the “share” function…I don’t save the graphic and upload it myself, implying it is my own original creation. And “retweet”? It’s a thing!

I guess my gears grind the hardest when I witness improper social media sharing inside of our rather intimate communities. Whether we’re interacting within a geographical area of small businesses (or large businesses that should know better), or within an online collective made up of well-intentioned massage therapists (or large massage therapy businesses that should know better), we really should strive to behave courteously at all times. Remaining mindful of our integrity and trustworthiness will serve us best in the long run, and that’s definitely an impression worth sharing.

***

Want to know how to report copyright violations on Instagram and Facebook? BAM.

Want to learn more about sharing and caring? Tune in to The Young Thumbs next week, when our very own Massage Nerd discusses copyright issues!

Thrift Store Finds for Your Massage Business

Running a small business can be expensive, ever wonder where to shop to save a images (1)few bucks? When I mention shopping for my massage business at thrift stores, I sometimes get a sideways glance or two…but there’s a method to my madness. The trick to fabulous finds at thrift stores is to make small trips often. It is unlikely that you will find all of this great stuff with one or two trips, but if you stop in every once in awhile, you’ll soon start to make great little discoveries. I usually pop in to various stores for a 20-30 minute trip once or twice a week. Since I am a mobile massage therapist, I usually make these trips between clients or on my lunch break in different parts of town.

If you have never shopped at a thrift store before, or if you find thrift stores unsavory, this post might not be for you…but if, like me, you enjoy a good thrift store and find shopping to be a relaxing experience – you might find yourself scanning the shelves with a fresh pair of eyes. Here are some of the things you can look out for. 

  1. This one is as obvious as it is surprising: professional massage equipment. It isn’t likely to be found, I have only come across a few things in my thrifting excursions, but when you do find some, it is especially exciting. I once bought an extra Earthlite facerest platform for my massage table for $7, and a professional leg bolster for $5. There was an Oakworks Nova massage table for $80, which I didn’t purchase at the time because I didn’t need one. My latest find, that I am really excited about, is a Medi-Rub foot massager machine for $10! If you have ever used one of these bad boys you know what a steal that is. I use it for myself, as well as bring it with me to office and convention chair gigs as an added perk for my chair massage clients. 
  2. Self Massage tools – from foot massagers to finger massagers, to vibration and percussion tools, people are constantly sending their self-care devices to thrift shops. These can be a great way to practice a little of what we preach between clients to take care of ourselves. Some of the things I have purchased include a Homedics shiatsu massage chair mat for $12 (this works incredibly well to ease my scoliosis symptoms when I can’t get in for a massage right away), an “Original Foot Log” for $3 (hands-down amazing for people with plantar fasciitis – I bring it with me to appts for clients to try out), and a calf-stretching rocker for $3. I am also the proud owner of a vintage Spine-a-Lator which I purchased for $125. My favorite recent find is a Spoonk acupressure mat which I paid $5 for. I LOVE this thing. I use it before bed or sometimes after a hot shower and find it incredibly relaxing on my back and the soles of my feet. It is a huge stress-reliever.
  3. Office organization supplies. You can find everything from briefcases to sample cases, binders and new packs of filing folders, executive planner cases, mail sorters, magazine racks, bulletin boards, white boards…and even smaller items such as three hole punches. I have bought all of my mobile massage bags at thrift shops – I usually use business traveling cases – my last one was a nice Kenneth Cole which I purchased for $10, and my current one is a Franklin Covey equipment bag which I purchased for $2.50. 
  4. Decorative Items. This one is pretty self explanatory. You can find many decorative items at thrift shops, the biggest problem here is really knowing what/when not to buy, so that your massage room doesn’t end up cluttered and messy. Often I find great deals on candles here. Such as the big three-wick candles usually used on coffee tables for a buck or two, or wooden wick candles, or huge bags of tealights for a buck. My favorite find so far would have to be my Himalayan salt glow lamp, which I purchased for $3. I know it is pretty cliche for a massage space, but I just love the golden pink glow from a pretty salt lamp…and they can be expensive in health food stores. My second favorite find would be the old style glass bulb Young Living essential oil diffuser which I purchased for…wait for it…75 cents! 
  5. High quality massage sheets and blankets. The concept of buying used massage linens came up in a massage group awhile ago and it seemed people were pretty divided about it. If you are someone who is comfortable using secondhand sheets (and really, aren’t they all secondhand once one client has used them?) then you can potentially buy much higher quality and/or higher thread count sheets for a fraction of the price you would pay for much lower quality new sheets. It is incredibly important that you thoroughly inspect every inch of the sheets to make sure there aren’t any stains, rips, or loose threads and that the sheets are thoroughly sanitized before going into rotation with your other sets. This means hot water, detergent and bleach, as well as a hot and thorough drying cycle. 
  6. Promotional display items: Comment card boxes, raffle boxes, picture frames, poster frames, A-frame signs, business card holders, etc.
  7. Client gifts. I know, that sounds cheap as heck…but give it a chance. Thrift stores are actually an amazing place to find small special client gifts. For instance, one of my clients just loves Disney, she takes her family to Disneyland every year for their annual trip, and a lot of her Christmas decorations are Disney themed. When I saw a gorgeous limited edition Disney Christmas ornament at a thrift shop for $8, picking it up for her as a Christmas gift was a no-brainer (after inspecting it very thoroughly for any defects). The original box was a bit banged up, so I tossed it and instead wrapped it in a satin organza bag and put it into a little sequined re-usable Christmas box which I picked up at the same store for $1. She loved it.  For my client who loves The Little Mermaid, a tiny snow globe for $2. For my client who is a chef who loves French cooking – a little kitchen sign with a quote from Julia Childs was a great personalized gift at only $3. Shopping this way allows me to give something my client will like, rather than something impersonal yet affordable which they don’t need. We all have/receive enough of that stuff. 
  8. Stationery and paper goods. Honestly, here is where I save the most money when it comes to thrift store shopping for my business. I send out a lot of cards, and you can buy big packs of greeting cards, beautiful stationery, envelopes, etc for a fraction of the price you would buy new. My newest great find for my summer promo mailers were these beautiful Papyrus notecards. There are 14 cards, envelopes, and gold hummingbird seals in each box and I got 5 boxes for $1.09 each. I’ll send these out with a little personal note and some summer promotions to all of my regulars, possibly with a coupon for a friend or family member. Photo paper is also always available in abundance for a tiny fraction of the price you pay at the store. Another paper good you can almost always find is Avery printable business cards. These aren’t really good for using as actual business cards (you can buy inexpensive, much better quality cards online) but they work very well for promotional purposes as coupons or referral cards. I like the versatility of thinking up a promotional idea and being able to print up a sheet or two the same day, possibly tailored to a holiday or specific event. You can usually pick up a pack of 250 for $1. 
  9. Furniture. Desks, bookcases, filing cabinets, lamps, chairs, good condition throw rugs, etc. This one is pretty self-explanatory. 
  10. Attire. If you are looking to build a professional wardrobe, but on a smaller budget, thrift stores are a great option with clothing that is often higher quality/longer lasting than the cheap new stuff you can buy at your local EverythingMart. You can buy a cheap polo shirt for $10 or $15 at your local big box store, or you can and buy a name brand Nike (for example) polo shirt of much higher quality at a thrift store for about $5. They cost less, you get more use out of them, and you keep goods out of the landfill. Not to mention many thrift stores are connected to Charities in your local community, so you may also be helping out those in need depending on where you shop (My favorite local store is Savers – which benefits SafeNest). That’s a win-win in my book.

Always check items very thoroughly for defects, and remember to have fun! Do you have an awesome thrift store or garage sale find in your office or in use in your business? If so, please share in the comments :) 

Some Self-Publishing Basics in Case You’re Curious or Have Something to Say

The following is a guest post written by my sister Deena. Although she is not a massage therapist, she is a fabulous librarian and passionate author of YA (young adult) fiction. I asked her if she’d mind sharing her thoughts on publishing ebooks because some of us may want to put our written stuff out there. Being the awesome sister that she is, her answer was a resounding yes. Enjoy!

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Hello, Young Thumbs Readers and thanks for having me here today. My sister, the self-published author of her own ebooks on massage therapy, asked me to talk about the basics of getting your book Out There in ebook form. With the glacial pace of the traditional publishing world, I love that epubbing is a viable option for writers today and I’m happy to have jumped on board in 2013. Hopefully some of you with something to say will take the leap as well.

I will start by stating that my experience is limited to the world of publishing young adult novels, and that I only have three titles under my belt. I am by no means a bestselling author, and my skills with marketing my work are fairly sad as my day job, life, and sleep take up large chunks of my non-writing time. I will not be insulted if anyone wants more info than I can provide. In fact, I’ll even point you to a fantastic resource: this free ebook by best-selling indie author Susan Kaye Quinn.

OK, now with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s jump in.

  1. No matter what you are writing (fiction or non-fiction for any age group), make sure your book is well written. Since 2004, I have written over ten novels. Thankfully, self-publishing was not a popular avenue ten years ago, because if I’d actually put my earlier work up for sale, I’d be super embarrassed by its crappiness right now. Find writing partners and critique each other’s work, read books on the craft of writing, and read books in your genre. Write, write, write. Revise, revise, revise. Do not publish your first draft.
  2. Once your well-written book is complete, get it copyedited. Yes, some typos and bad word choices may still get through to the final product (admitting guilt here). They do in traditionally published books, too. That is OK and no reason to panic since you can fix and upload your files again as needed. But still, enlist a freelance copyeditor or friend or writing partner who is good with grammar to do a final edit for you before publishing.
  3. Hire someone or learn how to format your book in MOBI and EPUB files. MOBI is the format used by Kindle, and Amazon is where you’ll sell most of your books. EPUB is the format used by Nook and most other e-readers.
  4. Buy an ISBN…or don’t buy an ISBN. Honestly, it doesn’t matter too much these days for e-publishing since most e-tailers don’t require them anymore. However, if you want to publish your book in print and sell it, you will need one.
  5. Create or purchase a professional book cover. If you are not good with design, do not attempt this on your own. Hire someone. Cover art is important and is the best marketing you can give your book out of the gate.
  6. Write a short blurb for your book. Polish it. Make sure it is error-free. This will be what potential buyers see when they browse your book at e-tailers (you will upload it with your manuscript), so make it perfect.
  7. Upload your book to e-tailers. I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, but you must upload your book to this megastore for ease of access for your audience. I would also recommend using Barnes & Noble for those Nook users. Kobo, Smashwords, and iTunes are optional in my opinion, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have it available through as many vendors as possible (even if uploading to iTunes is the most convoluted, antiquated process compared to the cutting edge technology of their products).
  8. You will also set your book’s price when you upload it. There are tons of posts online (just Google “best ebook price point”) that try to pinpoint the winning strategy to this, but I go with $2.99. Then I’ll put them on sale for $.99 at times and promote the deal for the duration.
  9. Advertise! As I’ve said, I suck at this part of the process, but do as much of it as you can so you sell more books than me. If you have a platform (you are a massage therapist writing non-fiction about massage, for example), find readers in your field who will post reviews on relevant sites or ask them for online interviews. Encourage readers to post reviews on Amazon and B&N. If you can, create a short (one minute or less), professional book trailer or hire someone to make it for you. Have a professional website with a clearly marked “books” page. Carry a bookmark or business card around with you that has your website on it and calls you an “author.”
  10. The best way to bring attention to your book? Write the next book. A fresh front list will bring attention to your backlist. Only have one book in you? Periodically update the content of your book if it is non-fiction, or give it a fresh cover if it is fiction. Something so it stays relevant in the glutted market of books.

Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for anyone dipping their toes in the world of self-publishing. Just remember, it is not a get rich quick scheme and if you don’t love to write, it may feel like a chore. Spend your time on what you love, and if writing is it, make time for it.

Weird things that matter when you’re running a business.

I live in New England, where we’ve been getting an unholy amount lots of snow over the past few weeks. It’s a project to dig a car out and clear it off post-storm. Common sense dictates one would clear off one’s car completely.

But some people don’t. Some people clear most of their windshield, maybe a little of the rear window, and set out onto the roads putting other people in danger.
That’s a mark of character, I think. And I wasn’t too sad to see the state police pulling people over for it during the recent blizzard.

car covered in snow

photo via the MA State Police Facebook page: http://ow.ly/ILx6p

 

I’m a hardass. I know I skew a little stricter than average about guidelines and rules, especially when it comes to running a business. Just like the snow-on-the-car thing (but certainly not as dangerous), I think there are actions and inactions that indicate character in a business owner. I think they matter.

Where you park your car
Some business owners park in a spot far away from their entrance, reserving the closer spots for customers. And I’ve seen others take the spot closest to the door, and stay parked there all day while clients have to schlepp from a distance, both before and after their massage.

The bottom line here is, are you making convenience a priority for you or your client? Your clients will catch on to that.

(Yes, I know that not everyone can control the parking situation around their business. If that’s the case, this doesn’t apply to you.)

What you wear
I know. I KNOW. People get piffy about this one. But the reality is, if you show up every day in ragged yoga pants, dirty sneakers, and a tshirt, it’s pretty damn clear that you don’t respect your work. Our ‘uniforms’ will vary according to environment. But the clothes you wear for work should always be clean, not worn-out, and not overly-casual.

Oh- and let’s have a little side chat about wearing custom tshirts with ignorant puns or ‘jokes’ about massage. Stop it. Your profession is not a joke. It’s a career, dammit. A career that has the potential to change lives. Unless of course, those people think you’re an unprofessional twit who wears silly tshirts. Then they will never come to you for massage and you will never change lives. “I’ve got your back” is fun. “I’m a massage therapist, I get paid to hurt people” is not.

Your trash
We need trash baskets. They will often have trash in them. This isn’t rocket science. But if you let them hang out more than half full for days at a time, it looks bad. It looks like you can’t be bothered to empty your trash. If you let them hang out full and overfull, it looks even worse. Trash is a visible indicator of how clean the rest of your office is, even the not-so-visible parts. Make it a good indicator.

What else? What are the little ‘things’ you notice that turn you on or off to certain businesses?

Light at the End of the Tunnel

We’re pleased to publish this guest post from our friend, Katie Adams. She’s a career therapist in the Boston area and knows.her.stuff. You can read more about her in the bio at the end of this post.2015-02-02_0810

Thank you, lax ligaments, for allowing me to get away with doing massage for 19 years without much pain. Over the past two, however, I have chased nerve-like symptoms up and down my arm while continuing to practice full time. I’d only cancel clients when the pain was enough to cause me to panic, haphazardly putting out the fire with chiropractic, massage, trigger point dry needling, some strengthening and stretching.

My thumb and first two fingers were tingling a lot when I went to my annual physical this past October. My PCP kindly reminded me that I was complaining about forearm and wrist pain at my last annual physical. Duh! Something always hurts when you are a bodyworker, right?

“I just don’t know where it’s coming from,” I said. “The pain jumps around between my neck, shoulder, biceps, forearm and thumb. But, come to think of it, I have been dropping things a lot lately. I just assumed I was clumsy.”

Full disclosure, I knew I had a positive Tinel’s Sign and Phelen’s Maneuver, so I begrudgingly made an appointment to see a neurologist.

I wanted to see a “soft-tissue friendly” doctor, so I made an appointment with a wonderful woman who is a neurologist and physiatrist. She remarked about my fear of the painful EMG test, “You have had a tingling hand for over a year? Trust me you have already felt more pain than this test will elicit!”  

Well, it was a rather unpleasant experience, but not that painful – quite interesting, actually.  An electromyogram (EMG) measures the electrical activity of muscles at rest and during contraction. A nerve conduction study measures how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals. My neurologist taped electrodes to my skin and put small shocks through my upper extremity nerves. Using a thin-needle electrode, she then stuck various muscles and asked me to move, listening to what sounded like loud static. Results: muscle damage (also called wasting) in my abductor pollicis muscle and significantly slowed median nerve impulses in the carpal tunnel. Diagnosis: moderate-severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).

Normally, if symptoms are caught early, conservative treatment for CTS inclusive of rest, PT and a cortisone shot to the wrist is prescribed. However, mine being a moderate-severe diagnosis with muscle and nerve damage, is a surgical case.

According to WebMd.com “Endoscopic surgery uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached (endoscope). The endoscope is guided through a small incision in the wrist (single-portal technique) or at the wrist and palm (two-portal technique). The endoscope lets the doctor see structures in the wrist, such as the transverse carpal ligament, without opening the entire area with a large incision.”

According to WebMd.com “Endoscopic surgery uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached (endoscope). The endoscope is guided through a small incision in the wrist (single-portal technique) or at the wrist and palm (two-portal technique). The endoscope lets the doctor see structures in the wrist, such as the transverse carpal ligament, without opening the entire area with a large incision.”

There are two main types of CTS Surgery: Open or Endoscopic. The hand surgeon that I consulted with specializes in the endoscopic procedures. He really seemed to understand my anxiety about my hand. “It’s more than the ability to support myself, I said, “It’s my connection to the world. My sense of touch is highly attuned – far more than any of my other senses. What if I lost it?”

No one can look into a crystal ball and know the outcome of any surgical procedure. But, according to the hand literature, my surgeon told me four things:

  1. Anyone with my level of nerve impairment (proven electrically) is best treated with a carpal tunnel release. Surgery can immediately halt further progression of nerve fiber loss and damage, provide symptomatic relief and prevent further loss of function.
  2. The damage thus far is not going to reverse by itself. Steroid injection can temporarily improve pain or tingling. But, there will be ongoing nerve loss with time, even while pursuing conservative measures, possibly progressing to ultimate total numbness and weakness in the hand.
  3. In the short term, less invasive endoscopic technique has been shown to be less painful and allow quicker return to function for the patient.
  4. At a certain point post-operatively, all carpal tunnel surgical patients should function equally (which is to say quite well). The hand ligament will heal over, but with roughly 30% more space for tendons and nerve to coexist within the tunnel.

My take away:  there is no guarantee that conservative treatment will take pressure off my carpal tunnel. I could spend a year trying non-invasive therapies, but with the moderate-severe diagnosis, it’s a gamble for sure. While spending time treating the symptoms, I could lose time for the nerve to viably recover. With the possibility of more permanent nerve damage, I decided to pursue surgery.

As I left the surgeon’s office, my brain slammed with self-defeating thoughts: 

“You are so stubborn, you could have prevented this if you’d taken better care of yourself.”
“You have been slouching for years over the massage table. You could have worked with better ergonomics.”
“What were you thinking digging in the garden and making rock walls for all those years while you did massage?”
“You were completely stupid trying to do sand bag carries and pull-ups at the gym followed by 5 massages back to back without rest.”
“I should have given up gluten and sugar…” (isn’t that ultimately what everyone blames these days?!)

Massage Dinosaur
I’ve often called myself a dinosaur in the massage world. I’m either seriously old, or I’ve survived the 7-year average burn-out rate multiple times.
Reflecting back upon the 18,500+ massage hours I have done in my career, I realized that I have been given the rare gift of a second chance with this surgery. I can prevent career extinction.

It’s easy to assume people just want a quick fix when they have surgeries.  As massage therapists, we usually try to help our clients avoid them at all costs. I never realized, however, how hard it is to actually make the decision to have an elective surgery. It is an exhausting and emotional process. But making the decision can be a true ‘light at the end of the ‘tunnel,’ bringing hope for longer lasting relief. Remember this the next time one of your clients comes in and has made this very personal decision.

To my massage colleagues I say, do not be afraid of injury or extinction!  The “Age of Dinosaurs” was the Mesozoic Era, which got divided into three periods: the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous (albeit 145-66 million years ago). I figure that I’m just entering my own post-surgical, ‘Jurassic’ massage era. I wonder if the Jurassic Park Discovery Center at Universal Studios in Orlando needs a new exhibit!

dinoKatie Adams has been practicing NMT in the greater Boston area for a long time. She founded the group practice 360 NeuroMuscular Therapy in Needham, MA which is uniquely focused on rehabilitation of soft-tissue dysfunction associated with medically diagnosed injury and myofascial pain syndrome. She is on the faculty of Myopain Seminars in Bethesda, MD, and also a regular speaker at medical conferences, including for the last five years, the New England Baptist Shoulder & Sports Symposium. Katie holds a BA from Ithaca College, and achieved national NMT certification in 1996 after graduating from the Massage Institute of New England. She is an active member of the American Massage Therapy Association, the National Association of Trigger Point Therapists and the International Myopain Society. Katie is always eager to confer with fellow or budding Massage Dinosaurs! Kadams@360nmt.com | @katieadams360 | #massagedinosaur

Transition

This is a guest post from our friend Michelle Giles, a Phoenix, Arizona based massage therapist and continuing education provider. You can learn more about Michelle here

***

You are a well-oiled machine. Body mechanics spot on. You’ve learned exotic massage techniques from all over the world.  You use many interesting products. Your sacred work space is beautiful. You love your clients. After 10 years you’ve hit your professional stride…or was that a wall?…made of bricks.  

Wait. How many treatments have you been doing a day? Between six and eight. Are you taking breaks in between sessions? Very few, with clients stacked back to back. Since school ended you have been striving, building, advertising, networking and flexing your boundaries and schedule to accommodate clients, never considering how this might impact your body. After all — you love what you do. 

I injured my right arm, shoulder and chest wall simultaneously last January. I didn’t feel it coming — no aches, no warning shot, nothing overtly physical. The signs were there. Subtle things. Things that can be mistaken for general fatigue; a neck ache, headache, or malaise that drifts into life from time to time. It’s easy to get lulled into a feeling of comfort when business is great. It’s also easy to get lazy with self care when you feel good and nothing hurts. 

I tried slowing down, putting more space between clients, getting acupuncture and physical therapy. After a few weeks of that routine, the reality of the situation weighed heavily on me. I was really hurt. Not “get a massage, take a few days and sleep it off” hurt, but “out of commission” hurt. Stubbornly, I still saw a few clients a day for another week. I refused to acknowledge that I was hurt — after all, I had worked so hard to build this. Then a miracle arrived disguised as a disaster — my landlord sold my studio out from under me. I lost my office and was forced to take a break. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Once home, I did some research. I read articles about injury and professional burnout.  One fact stood out from the rest: “The burnout rate within the massage industry has been estimated at 50% to 88% within the first 3 to 5 years after graduation according to a study completed by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, a reputable industry organization.” I am not sure how many of us know and absorb that statistic. I have been a full time massage therapist for 15 years, and had no idea it was that high. 

I was depressed for about a week, alternately sleeping and crying.  An MRI revealed severe tendinosis and RSI injuries surrounding the area, and it would take between one and 5 years to heal completely. My PT was very honest with me — no amount of therapy could help at this stage. I felt frenzied, I wanted to will it better with salves and treatments. The simple truth was rest and accept.

Looking for gifts within life’s challenges is tough. My mind wanted to ruminate on loss. I made the conscious choice to use this time to reinvent and rethink my entire approach.  Epiphany: I was in the next stage of my career. I was fortunate enough to be able to take seven months off. This is what I did with that time:

  • Sold most of my belongings from my old office to create a new environment
  • Designed a 200 square foot massage office in the garage behind my house
  • Designed and built (enter my husband’s building skills) 8 large wooden planter boxes to grow herb and plants to make infused oils and salves. Also functions as a courtyard space to separate work and home
  • Learned to use Himalayan salt stones instead of hot stones
  • Learned to use Chinese cups and gua sha tools
  • Bought a product called Armaid to begin rehabbing my arm
  • Learned how to foam roll and use racquet balls for self care
  • Applied for and received my continuing education provider number enabling me to teach continuing education classes out of my new space
  • Learned how to create my own scrubs, soaks, lotions, lip balms and deodorant
  • Created my own website with the free ABMP tool (simplistic, but great)
  • Rested, stretched, soaked, and focused on my new self care needs

I had emailed my client list when I began my sabbatical, emailed them again when the office was done, then emailed a small group of regulars to let them know I was coming back in July…slowly. I began by taking one client a day a few days a week for a month. Then two clients a day a few days a week for two months. After two months, I emailed the rest of my clients announcing I was back to work. It has been seven month since I have been back.  I only see three clients a day. I schedule morning, afternoon and evening- leaving hours in between each. No compromises. My clients have loved the new modalities, the fresh space, and knowing no one is stacked right after them. They take their time, and so do I. What a change. My patience and new approach has paid off, and last week I realized my arm doesn’t hurt at all anymore. I will never return to my old way of doing business; it was outmoded.

Professional transition is inevitable. As our bodies age and change, so should our approach. Self care, exercise and diet need also change as we do. What worked in the beginning of our careers won’t always work. 

Injury is a great teacher.

The Many Sizes of Social Media

I’ve been managing social media accounts for many years, and I started in the social media arena in 2006 on Youtube. Things were a lot simpler back in the day, but now it can give a person a HUGE headache with all the different sizes required for photos. Since 2006, Youtube has changed their main layout at least three different times, and don’t get me started about Facebook :)

The rule of thumb (pun intended) for photos on social media websites:
* Profile photos: Usually a square shape (100×100, 250×250 and so on).
facebook-profile-image
* Photos as posts: Most social media accounts recommend either a square (Instagram), or a photo that is wider (Landscape size) for Twitter and Facebook.
facebook-post-normal
* For Pinterest and Tumblr: these sites look better if the photos are taller (Portrait size).
twitter
* Cover photos: totally different story. Most of them are wider (Landscape size), than narrow (Portrait size) – but every site has different dimensions.facebook-cover-imageEditing Websites
Here are two great sites: autreplanete and internetmarketingninjas, that you can make your photos the right sizes for  your social media accounts.

Here is a list of sizes (This is just a generalized guideline):
– Blog Graphic: 800 x 1200px

– Business Card: 8.5 x 5cm
– Card: 14.8 x 10.5cm
– Document: 21 x 29.7cm
– Facebook Ad: 1200 x 627px
– Facebook App: 810 x 450px
– Facebook Cover: 851 x 315px
– Facebook Newsfeed: 1200 x 1200px
– Facebook Post: 940 x 788px
– Facebook Profile: 180 x 180px
– Google+ Cover Photo: 2120 x 1192px
– Google+ Newsfeed: Minimum 497 x 373px
– Google+ Profile: 250 x 250px
– Instagram Cover: 2048 2048px
– Instagram Post: 640 x 640px
– Instagram Profile: 110 x 110px
– Invitation: 14 x 14cm
– Kindle Cover: 1410 x 2250px
– LinkedIn Cover: 646 x 220px
– LinkedIn Business Logo: 100 x 60px or 50 x 50px
– Photo Collage: 25 x 20cm
– Pinterest Profile: 165 x 165px
– Pinterest Post: 735 x 1102px
– Poster: 42 x 59.4cm
– PowerPoint: 1024 x 768px
– Social Media: 800 x 800px
– Twitter Header: 1500 x 500px
– Twitter Newsfeed: 1024 x 512px
– Twitter Profile: 400 x 400px
– Youtube Cover: 2560 x 1440px
– Youtube Desktop Display: 2560 x 423px
– Youtube Mobile Display: 1546 x 423px
– Youtube Tablet Display: 1855 x 423px
– Youtube TV Display: 2560 x 1440px
– Youtube Thumbnail Preview: 1280 x 720px
– Youtube Icon: 800 x 800px
– Tumblr Profile: 128 x 128px
– Tumblr Posts: 500 x 750px

Hope that helps, and please embrace technology – it’s a lot easier than you think!

Ryan Hoyme is the Owner of MassageNerd.com (Largest Massage Website) and RyanHoyme.com (Largest Massage Website for Stock Photos)