We hope you have all been enjoying our "Ask The Muscle Whisperer" series. This month we asked the UK massage industry's top thought leaders to share key tips for massage therapists to help their massage therapy businesses navigate the changes in our industry brought about by Covid-19 and come back stronger in 2021!
You can watch the full video with all the specialist's answers compiled together HERE.... or watch each specialist's answer individually in shorter snippets below underneath their name!
After time to reflect during the pandemic many massage therapists are rethinking their marketing strategies and choosing to niche their businesses. At what stage in your career did you choose a niche for your massage therapy business? How did you pick your niche and what tips would you give to therapists for selecting a niche?
I think that it would be safe to say that the last year has been a curveball, or rather a series of curveballs, for everyone. At the start of the year I was looking forward to business as usual; seeing my clients, continuing to develop professionally, and delivering training courses.
However, Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns have meant that I have had to drastically change the way that I deliver my services in order to continue my practice. The good news, for myself and the rest of the massage industry is that we do not have to go extinct; we only have to evolve.
The answer, in my opinion, lies in specialising. There are thousands upon thousands of massage therapists in the UK who do not specialise in a specific area. However, there are also thousands of potential clients seeking expert treatment for the myriad of conditions which massage has been shown to help. For my fellow massage practitioners, this means that by failing to specialise, you are missing out on clients and income.
In 2014 I decided to specialise in oncology massage. It’s something that I think is very important – everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. The area I have chosen to focus on does not just benefit my patients as an oncology specialist. Having a specialism in one area is important for all jobs, and massage is no different. It means that I have something different to offer from many other practising massage therapists. This niche allows me to receive specialist referrals and also provide my clients with the peace of mind that they’re dealing with someone who is experienced in the service which they require.
For massage therapists who are looking to develop their niche but are still unsure how best to branch out I would suggest looking at two key aspects. Firstly, how do you like to work? Which massage techniques do you excel in and enjoy delivering? Then research your local audience and competition to see where there might be a gap in demand. Some of the most sought-after specialities are Neuromuscular, Myofascial Release, and Oncology. You can then see how your skills best align with the therapeutic approach these specialisms require.
In my approach to Oncology massage I always aim to approach it from a whole-body perspective. This mean that I have to be aware of the fact that the body is not just a mass of solitary organs, nerves, bones, and muscles which do one job and do not communicate or relate to each other. The body is a finely balanced machine with parts which interact; if one of these is thrown off balance then it will have a knock-on effect. When performing Oncology massages we must be aware of this, and we must also educate ourselves on the fact that any physical malfunctions can also impact on our mental state.
Even if the patient does not show any physical symptoms, a cancer diagnosis can be extremely traumatic. Humans typically do not consider their own mortality on a day-to-day basis; cancer can force us to do this in an extremely abrupt manner. Even the word “cancer” is potentially emotionally triggering. This is where I believe that the mental health benefits of massage can have a positive impact on our clients.
Oncology massage is neither light, fluffy or insubstantial, it addresses the needs of the client and how the tissue responds, the most descriptive word I use when teaching this method is to feel what is happening underneath your hands, to be led by the tissue and respond to it, not force your way through in an unthinking way, but to ‘melt’ into the soft tissue in a considered way. This approach to Oncology massage is in fitting with my “less is more” ethos when it comes to using force, which I apply to all of my patients.
Watch Susan answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!Susan Findlay
For Emma it is so important for massage therapists to choose an area to specialise in. Emma started her career working predominantly in the field of sports therapy, this was because she was drawn to complex chronic injuries and she found that lots of these that she began treating did not relate to sports or exercise. For example, she noticed she was seeing lots of female clients around menopause who were struggling with frozen shoulders.
However, the aspect of massage therapy that fascinated Emma the most was that after treating clients and seeing vast improvements there was always 5% that remained, something underlying that lay with the emotions behind the injury. Emma started to explore how people relate to their condition or injury and how this is stored in the body. This was not researched heavily at the time, but Emma investigated as much as she could including 2 years training in biodynamic craniosacral therapy and trauma skills for bodyworkers. The gentle touch she learnt in these studies informed her massage therapy and how Emma worked to really engage with clients on an emotional level too.
From here Emma worked under broad banners of interest such as women’s health, chronic injuries and emotional holding patterns and specialised in different conditions under these such as endometriosis, fibroids, frozen shoulder, and other pathologies that are often overlooked for women. Emma loves this aspect of working in massage therapy, that once you qualify you can take your career in any direction you desire.
Emma really recommends that when picking your niche as a massage therapist that you choose something you love! The more you can specialise in any area you like, the better your results, more interesting your work as a massage therapist will be and the more you will draw clients to you who need your skills! Over the years this will change but allow yourself to go with it! Allow your massage therapy career to develop with you, ensuring you update your skills as you update and develop as a person! In our massage therapy businesses, we all can feel like we get into ruts from time to time but if this happens explore something new, whether it’s picking up a book or signing up for a new course - anything that reignites your passion in massage therapy!
School of Bodywork have developed short online courses starting at £20 on a range of topics from TMJ, Trauma in the body, Women’s Health and much more which you can check out here!
Watch Emma answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!
For Earle, like many massage therapists, at the start of his career his marketing activities focussed on building up a client base to get established and start bringing in an income. Over time he noticed he was starting to see a lot of sports-based injuries and so he naturally progressed into niching towards this field. But over time this evolved and changed and now he works with a lot of chronic health issues and as an educator and author.
Earle really recommends that as a massage therapist you avoid niching your massage therapy business too soon as his journey has very much been shaped by the knowledge and experiences he gained as he moved through his career. Earle suggests allowing your journey to unfold and take time to notice what issues you see most often in your massage therapy practice. What conditions or modalities are you drawn to? What do you find yourself wanting to learn more about? And let this shape your path.
CPD and continuing to learn and grow are crucial for Earle, but he wants to stress that massage therapists should not lose site of the end product when selecting courses. Massage therapists should always consider whether any new skills will directly impact on a group of clients who need and require help and think about ways you can market those skills for your massage therapy business. Earle shares that if you are worried or struggling to find your niche as a massage therapist just follow your instincts, stick to what you are most interested in and the market, and your clients, will find you!
You can find more details on Earle's latest book 'Muscle Testing – A Concise Manual' by clicking the images below or find out more details on the next Hands On Training courses by clicking here.
For Sunita her niche as an Ayurvedic specialist came to her in a moment of serendipity. Sunita used to be a business journalist and whilst on a project in India she came across a meditation shop and what the practitioner said to her inside resonated so deeply she knew she needed to find out more!
Sunita suggests to therapists that in order to find a niche for your massage therapy business you take some time to reflect on moments in your own life that have resonated with you on a deep level. What things have you studied that left you desperate to learn more? What aspects of your work as a massage therapist are you obsessed with?
For Sunita niches are more powerful when they are something personal and special and it is only after some inner work that we might be able to spot them in our massage therapy practice. Sunita suggests taking some time to meditate and ask yourself questions. She provides a helpful affirmation that might help massage therapists with this practice;
"Dear Universe, I am open to understanding how I am better ready to serve my clients"
Repeating this affirming and then taking notes on what it awakes in can be really helpful in identifying what resonates with you as a massage therapist on a deep and meaningful level.
Watch Sunita answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!To check out all Tri-Dosha has to offer, including Sunita's newsletter, give them a follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Susan Findlay
For new Muscle Whisperer Nikki Wolf when her career began in the 90’s marketing for massage therapists was quite different and Nikki was able to get her massage clients predominantly through word of mouth. Around 10 years ago this changed and marketing for massage therapy businesses exploded and niching became very trendy. Around this time Nikki noticed that she had already naturally had clients who were starting to fit a pattern, but this isn’t always the case for other massage therapists!
Nikki stresses that niching is just a marketing tool. If you have more than enough clients and are already filling up your clinic’s books through word of mouth, then you might not need to niche. However, if you are advertising your massage therapy business online then niching is crucial, as people’s attention spans online are short and it will help you stand out from the crowd.
Niching also gives you credibility as a massage therapist and although you might worry that it could end up being repetitive seeing the same types of clients or injuries, this really isn’t the case. Nikki uses the analogy of a shop window. That niching grabs the attention of a client passing by and draws them into your “shop” to see what else you offer.
There are lots of different directions you can go in when selecting a niche for your massage therapy business. Whether you choose an interest, injury or modality or a combination it must be areas of your work as a massage therapist that you find the most interesting and you feel most passionately about. Nikki suggests getting started by reflecting on your favourite clients. Are there any common denominators between them that could serve as a niche for your massage therapy business? Alternatively, what experiences with massage therapy in your own life could you share with clients authentically? How has massage helped you recover, and would you be interested in bringing this healing to others?
Watch Nikki answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!To find out more about Orchid Massage Academy, click click here or find more details on Nikki's mentorship program, here. Alternatively you can follow on Facebook here
For new Muscle Whisperer Jayne it was her experiences working in a post office that shaped the clients she attracts now in her work as a massage therapist. Jayne remembers listening to the stories of her regular customers. Elderly clients collecting their pensions or stressed-out mums coming in for their child benefit and noting how much pain and stress people were experiencing. When she began her career 20 years ago Jayne naturally gravitated to those groups as she loved helping especially elderly clients with chronic pain improve their quality of life.
As niching became more in vogue for massage therapy businesses Jayne created a specialism for herself helping professional women to reduce stress and this has become a huge passion for her. This niche has allowed Jayne to offer online courses alongside her treatments and revolutionise her massage therapy business. To any massage therapist looking to find their niche Jayne recommends selecting something you know. For example, if you are a runner, target runners as a market to explore rather than cyclists. Take time to think about which clients do you love working with? Sit with your diary and pick out the names which you always look forward to treating with your massage skills. Work out why these clients are your favourites and what issues they come to you with. After doing this you should be able to identify a preventative way you could help them with their aches and pains.
For Jayne, a lot of her clients who are professional women, their pain is caused by stress and the tension that comes with it. Therefore, Jayne developed some methods for them to reduce their stress and from this created an online course. After the first few massage sessions with a new client after wowing them with her treatments and reducing their pain, Jayne will then offer them this course to hopefully stop their pain coming back and to show the range of her skills as a massage therapist.
Watch Jayne answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!Click hereto find out more about Jayne Burke Holistic Therapies or you can follow on Facebook, Twitteror Instagram.
During this past year and the Covid-19 pandemic some therapists have had time to reflect on their massage businesses and may choose to focus on certain niches in the market.
I have spoken to a handful of therapists that I have worked with over the past 20 years and I would suggest the key to establishing a niche in the bodywork industry is CPD training.
I don’t think it’s necessarily agonising over how you can be different but offering your clients more than one specialist area of Bodywork like Myofascial Release, Trigger Point Therapy for pain release and much more. That is your Niche - a Multi Skilled Therapist.
If I know one thing about clients who rebook time after time it’s this – be confident in what advice you give because of your CPD training and be confident in how you apply your touch. Also, my advice to therapists is to embrace online booking and marketing for the future.
Online marketing includes paying for Google ads or Facebook posts, and it can be expensive, but I think it is a necessary investment, alongside someone who knows about organic online marketing.
I hope this is helpful.
Watch Carl answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!
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Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!
A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.
The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because
Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.
Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.
Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.
Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.
Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.
If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:
Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.
Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.
The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.
You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.
Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.
A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:
1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.
The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.
You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!
There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.
1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):
If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.
2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):
The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.
The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.
1. Rectangle shaped with square corners
This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.
2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners
Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.
3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient
A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.
This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.
The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.