What to do if your client has a muscle spasm during a massage

If it hasn’t happened to you already, it will. You are giving a relaxing  massage and your client’s breath is taken away by the sudden pain of a muscle cramp. You spring into action and quickly guide your client in a way that stops the charley horse in its tracks. Here is a quick and easy fail proof technique to stop a spasm.

  1. Take your hands off the client.
  2. Ask the client where the cramp is.
  3. Have the client contract the opposite muscle or muscle group from the muscle that is in spasm.
  4. Have the client hold the contraction of the antagonist muscle until the spasm has stopped.

If there is time left in the session, continue the massage. Avoid the area that was in spasm. The muscle needs time to rest and recuperate. Refrain from stretching, compressing, or manipulating the muscle. Any work in that area could cause the muscle to spasm again.

At the end of the session, ask your client about how much water they had that day. Chances are, they are dehydrated. If they were well hydrated, a nutritional deficiency or possibly a medication side effect could be the culprit. Stay within your scope of practice and refer out as needed. Do not dabble in nutrition if you are not qualified to do so.

If the muscle cramp was due to overuse, like from an intense athletic activity – encourage your client to rest in addition to hydration.

If a client has a spasm on your table, it is a great opportunity to educate them on the wonders of reciprocal inhibition. Antagonist, or opposite, muscles cannot contract at the same time (example – the biceps and the triceps). Knowing this and a little anatomy can allow your client to take action if they have a spasm, even if it happens outside of your presence.

Check out the video above for examples of how to execute cramp management for a spasm in the low back and the calf.

Are tip jars appropriate or tacky?

            Tip jars can be a subtle way to let your clients know you accept tips. They can be especially helpful when working with the public in a situation where they may not be aware that it is appropriate to tip. However, it can come across as pushy or even tacky to put out a jar or envelopes soliciting a gratuity.

            If you are relying on tips, it is an indicator that you are not charging enough. Tips should be a bonus to your income, not something that you depend on to make ends meet.

            Have you ever been to a restaurant and it was clear that the server was soliciting tips? You know, they immediately tell you their life story and how many jobs they are working to get by? It is uncomfortable, right? This is exactly the situation you do not want to be in as a solo massage business owner. It should not be part of the experience to ask your clients for additional money. Have one clear price where you believe you are receiving the compensation that is appropriate for your business and services.

            Joyce, what if I am doing a free chair massage event? Well, grasshopper, doing free chair massage is a rite of passage every new massage therapist must experience. Chair massage is a great way for potential clients to experience your work. Free chair massage is a long-term investment in your business. If you work at a free chair massage event and book one client as a result, and that client comes to see you once a month for years, then that did not end up being a free chair massage event. You actually made thousands of dollars from a few hours of chair massage. Putting out a gratuity jar seems like small potatoes compared to the long game, right? The same goes for the end of a massage in your office. Getting the client to rebook is much more lucrative than a tip. Keep your eye on the prize.

            Putting out a tip cup is living in the moment when it comes to your income. I want you to think about your business and money long-term. Getting clients to come back and see you multiple times over the course of many years should be the goal, not squeezing another $20 out of them at the end of the massage.

            Tips happen naturally, and I expect you to accept them with grace. I’m not saying to turn them away. What I am saying is that soliciting tips with a jar or envelopes could put your clients on the spot and make for an uncomfortable and unprofessional situation. This practice could ultimately hurt your business more than help it.

The Secret to Effective Massage Marketing

It’s all about consistency. Keep your targeted “ideal client” in mind, and market directly to them. You need to accomplish four things in each marketing strategy you deploy.

  1. Get their attention
  2. Introduce yourself
  3. Get them to know and trust you
  4. Make them comfortable with giving you their time, money, and body.

When you look at it that way, it seems like a lot. That’s because it is! Anyone that is trying to sell you a fast or easy way to market, is marketing to you themselves.

There are plenty of ways to market to your clients without being sleazy or salesey. Just be genuine and truthful. Be upfront about being a massage therapist and being the one that can help them. If you provide value within your marketing techniques, your potential clients are going to be more likely to engage with you and your business. It gives them a chance to check you out.

Here is an example:

Write a blog post about safe ways to massage a pregnant woman’s feet. This is how it accomplishes all the goals listed above:

Get their attention – you have written an article that is for pregnant women (and their loved ones) specifically. It is like you are talking directly to them.

Introduce yourself – they will get to know you through your writing and have the opportunity to explore the rest of your website to learn about you and your practice.

Get them to know and trust you – you are letting your knowledge and education shine through your writing. Since you are taking the time and care to make sure they are safe, it allows them to trust your expertise.

Make them comfortable with giving you their time, money, and body – you have proven that you are an expert in prenatal massage. You are the person to go to in the area if you are pregnant and want a massage.

Take it a step further – provide a class at your office. Pregnant ladies (and their partners/families) can come to your office and learn proper, safe massage techniques for the feet. Do you see how this can be even more effective in getting them to meet you and your practice?

Even better?! Teach the same class at an OBGYN office. This not only lets your expertise shine, but it shows you are endorsed by their doctor, someone they already know and trust. Bring the appointment book to this one, because you are going to be booked!

Touching on the point I made at the beginning of this post, be consistent. You can’t expect to write one blog, or teach one class, and have clients pounding down your door. Develop a strategy and execute it over a period of time. You must put yourself in front of your target audience multiple times before they will be ready to take the next step. Stay consistent and your hard work will pay off.

Watch the video below for more details.