Client Satisfaction Survey Results

To celebrate my two year business anniversary I sent a survey to all of my clients to discover where I can improve my business as well as what I’m doing right.  I’m very grateful to those who participated and gave me feedback about their experience.  Here I will share the results of my survey and address many of the critiques clients had about my services and office environment.

Here’s what I learned about my clientele:

  • 50%  get a massage at least once per month and 30% at least every couple of months
  • 83% get massage to manage pain, 48% use it to manage stress, and 55% to do something nice for themselves (this was a ‘choose all that apply’ for you math whizzes)
  • A whopping 87% say that quality of treatment is the number one reason for choosing a therapist

Many clients had some really nice things to say about my service and I truly appreciate them letting me know what I’m doing well.  Here are the things people liked best about my massage:

  • My ability to find and treat problem areas 
  • Getting pain relief
  • Feeling deeply relaxed after the treatment
  • Liked that I did what was wanted and needed
  • Appreciated that I was quiet during the treatment if they didn’t want to talk
  • Long term clients appreciated the relationship we’ve built over the years

Now to address the critiques and concerns:

  • Not enough evening appointments available.  I understand that most work schedules require appointments later in the evenings. Mondays and Tuesdays are when I have the latest appointments available at 4:30 and 6pm.  I teach Wednesday evenings and cannot see clients unless I’m between terms.  I am changing my Thursday and Friday schedules beginning in May to include a 4:30 appointment.  These later appointments tend to fill quickly so the sooner you can schedule ahead the better chance you have of getting one.  If you have trouble finding a time that works for you please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to accommodate you.
  • Pressure.  My goal during the massage is to use appropriate pressure to encourage muscles and tissues to relax.  I can feel these changes but don’t know how the pressure feels to you.  What is painful to one person may feel light as a feather to another.  Please let me know when it is too deep or not deep enough, I check in occasionally but appreciate your feedback during the treatment whenever it is needed.  Also many people confuse a deep massage with a hard massage.  Deep work can be subtle, it doesn’t need to be painful to be effective.
  • Techniques.  I do have favorite techniques I frequently use.  I have primarily studied Trigger Point Therapy, Swedish, neuromuscular and sports massage techniques.  If there’s something another therapist did that you enjoyed describe it to me, with your input I can make it happen.  If we’re focusing on a particular problem and can’t get around to a full body massage but there’s something you want to make sure gets attention (scalp, hands, feet, face, etc…) please let me know and I’ll work it into my treatment plan for that session.
  • More time to relax after the massage.  One of the perks of being my own boss is that I am able to schedule enough time between sessions for you to have a few minutes to relax on the table before getting dressed.  When I say ‘take your time’ at the end of the session I mean it!  Perhaps I’ll get an alarm to set for those who want to relax for a bit afterwards without feeling anxious about falling asleep.
  •  Lighting.  I have designed my room so that I have a lot of lighting options.  If you find the room to be too light or dark at any time please let me know and I will change it for you.
  • Music.  If you don’t care for the music I am playing let me know and I will find another CD for you.  I will be ordering some new music soon for more variety.  Feel free to bring your own CD along, I don’t mind!
  • Tipping.  Tips are always appreciated but never expected!  If you’re using a credit card new updates on my card reader allow you to tip or not completely anonymously.

 What I’ve learned most of all is that communication is the key to getting the massage you want.  A good therapist listens and responds to your needs knowing they change from session to session and maybe even during a single massage.  Don’t ever feel anxious about speaking up before, during, or after your treatment with me to make the experience better.  If we can’t make my massage work for you I would be happy to help you find a therapist that can meet your needs.

I will be working many of these into my FAQ page and have a direct link to it for new clients to read before their massage and will include a link to the survey for all new clients to take after their first session with me.

Weekend Warriors and Serious Athletes

Spring hasn’t quite made it here yet but I know it’s on everyone’s mind.  I definitely have cabin fever and am desperately awaiting the warm weather so I can ride my bike, take a hike, paddle, or just go outside and play!  What are you chomping at the bit to do outside?  Have you been keeping in shape this long winter or have you hibernated on the comfy couch waiting for the sun to recharge your batteries?

If you’ve been fairly inactive for a bit it’s easy to overdo it in your eagerness to get out, enjoy the weather and have some fun.  Your muscles aren’t yet conditioned for a lot activity making them fatigue more quickly, more prone to injury, and increasing your chances for delayed onset muscle soreness, that nasty ache you get a couple of days after strenuous activity.

To reduce your risk of injury and pain make sure you warm up beforehand.  A good way to do this is to simply start your activity at a low intensity:  walk briskly before running, do a few drills for your sport, dynamic (rather than static) stretching,  just get the muscles warmed up and the blood moving.  Conditioning is also key to preventing soreness and injury.  If you haven’t walked around the block for a couple of months that 10 mile hike or mini marathon might not be the best idea right away!

Now that you’re moving again, or at least thinking about it,  add massage to your routine to keep your muscles and connective tissues happy and healthy.  Many of my clients are runners, cyclists, distance hikers, and white water kayakers and they see me regularly to help them improve their performance and reduce their chances of muscle injury.

Massage is an excellent way to prevent and rehabilitate injuries, maintain range of motion, and manage the aches and pains that come with having fun.  New activities or stepping up your regular ones can easily fatigue or injure muscles unaccustomed to being used in certain ways.  Here are a few ways massage is beneficial to athletes:

  • If you participate in a sport regularly you are at risk for repetitive strain injuries that can result in myofascial pain syndrome and trigger point formation.  Regular massage is the best way to treat fascia and eliminate trigger points.
  • Massage has been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle pain by 30% if given within several hours after the activity.  If you’re planning a big day on the trail, road, or river consider scheduling a massage for the next day to reduce your chances of being too sore to get out of bed in a couple of days.
  • Sports and working out cause micro tears in muscle and connective tissue.  Recent research has indicated that massage reduces the inflammation associated with these injuries and promotes production of mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of the cell that are responsible for producing energy for muscle contraction.
  • Any muscle injury can cause scarring and adhesions that reduce a muscle’s range of motion and efficiency.  New injuries benefit from massage to help them resolve properly so they don’t become chronic problems. Old, chronic injuries benefit by massage’s ability to break up adhesions and allow muscles to move and function more effectively.  Chronic injuries and pain can also lead to trigger point formation which can be resolved by deep tissue techniques.

Whether you’re a serious athlete or a weekend warrior regular massage can help keep your body in top shape.  Prevention and proper management of pain and injuries with the help of massage will keep you moving and having fun.

“Don’t You Get Bored?”

 

“Don’t you get bored?”  “Doesn’t your mind wander when you’re doing massage?”  Every therapist gets these kinds of questions.  I’m kind of surprised that so many people think massage is such a mentally passive activity.  Doing bodywork is not just going through a set routine!  Even if the techniques or progression is similar each massage and every person is unique.  To be a good therapist and serve your clients well you have to constantly focus and adjust your work.  There’s plenty going on for me to pay attention to: 

*My hands (or fingers, knuckles, elbow, whatever is contacting the client).  I’m feeling the muscles and connective tissues in the body, their hardness or softness, where they need attention, how the technique I’m using is affecting them or isn’t.  I am constantly adjusting my speed and depth, or changing techniques depending on what I feel the body needs.

*The person on the table.  Tension, relaxation, rate of breathing, verbal cues, subtle movements or holding, unconscious protecting of an area.  What the client is both verbally and non-verbally expressing directs my work.  I have to pay attention to know how my work feels to them, not just how it feels to me.

*My own body.  To work well I have to use my body effectively.  I’m frequently checking in with myself to see if I’m in the right position to use a technique without over taxing my own body.  Good body mechanics are the key to good work and a long career.  My own tension or relaxation determines the effectiveness of a stroke and can often be sensed by the person on the table.

*The Plan:  When someone comes to my office I interview them to determine their needs, wants, and expectations.  I assess, question, and form a plan for the treatment.  Sometimes, after I get my hands on the tissues I have to change in mid-massage to try to accomplish what I set out to do.  Afterwards, if the client has a particular problem we’re working on I have to be able to articulate a continuing plan that will help them reach their goals.

Does my mind wander?  Absolutely, but like any creative process I have to be aware of when it has meandered to the groceries, what I’m teaching in class, or where I can kayak this weekend and bring my focus back to my work and the person on the table.  Do I get bored?  Rarely.  One of the things I love best about bodywork is that there is so much to learn, so many techniques and approaches to massage, so much new research to work with.  Even skills I’ve used for almost 13 years now change and become more focused the more I practice them.

Massage requires mindfulness.  When you’re on my table I’m with you, my mind is on my work and your needs.

Shop Small Business Saturday and get a $20 Gift Certificate

I’m a huge supporter of local businesses.  Shopping locally puts more money back into your community and helps small businesses like mine succeed.

To celebrate this year’s Small Business Saturday I’m giving away an additional $20 gift certificate with the online purchase of a 60 or 90 minute Holiday Gift Certificate package!  Gift it to a friend or keep it and use it for yourself (you know you deserve it).

Hurry, offer is good ONLY for Small Business Saturday:  Saturday, November 30th, 2013.  Click here to purchase.

Holiday Gift Certificate Savings!

Give the gift of health for the holidays and save 20%!

Buy two Gift Certificates and get a third for half price!

Click the Gift Certificate tab to order online.  Call or email to buy in-store or pay by phone.

Certificates are good for one year from date of purchase.  Sale ends January 1, 2014.

Managing Knee Pain Due to Arthritis

You may have heard a recent story on NPR about the uncertainty of the efficacy of glucosamine and chrondoitin for helping knee joint pain due to osteoarthritis.  Osteoarthritis is also known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, damage to the cartilage causing inflammation, reduced range of motion, crunchiness, and pain.  It can happen as part of the aging process or from repetitive overuse due to work or athletics.

The good news is that the study found that 66% of participants who took the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements reported a pain reduction of around 20%.  The bad news is that 60% of participants taking the sugar pill placebo reported the same reduction in pain.  In other words, a lot of people felt a bit better but it probably wasn’t because of the supplement.  Other participants with more severe knee pain got better results 79% on the glucosamine/chondroitin vs. 54% taking the placebo.

Is spending money on these supplements worth it for most osteoarthritis sufferers?  A larger study is being done but this one certainly raises a lot of questions about how well the supplement that many are spending a lot of money on really works.  With 60% of participants taking the sugar pill getting relief it also sheds light, as many studies do, on how effective your belief that something will work affects the outcome.

What is certain to reduce knee pain for most is to exercise and lose weight.  The article says that losing only 5 pounds reduces pressures on the knee joints by 20 pounds and all types of exercise seem to reduce pain and increase flexibility.

This recent National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine study shows that weekly 60 minute massages can decrease pain and increase function of participants with knee osteoarthritis more quickly than standard care alone.  In addition massage can help reduce spasms in muscles that further compress the joint as well as manage compensation patterns and other muscle and connective tissue problems that accompany osteoarthritis.

There are many other sources of knee pain that massage can help with as well including misalignment, trigger points, old injuries, and other soft tissue problems.

If you have any questions about how I can help you with osteoarthritis or knee pain please contact me at ablair@aliblairmassagetherapy.com or call 859-576-9409.

I’m in Skirt! magazine this month!

If you aren’t familiar, Skirt! is a free monthly magazine that profiles local business people, artists, musicians, and other interesting people and businesses who contribute to the community.  I’m thrilled to be in this month’s issue!  Pick one up and show me off to your friends.

A Not So Gentle Reminder

Many massage therapy students are drawn to the field because they had, at one time, experienced pain.  That pain eventually led to their finding bodywork as a way to resolve it or at the very least manage it so they could lead a more pain-free life.

I was not one of those.  I am so very fortunate in my life to have experienced very little real physical pain.  I use these moments when it is present as teaching moments.  A bad decision while white water kayaking this past weekend has given me one such teachable moment.  For the last three days my neck has been in intense pain.  Pain that won’t allow it to be touched or move in all the directions I need it to go, pain that kept me up most of last night and has prevented me from doing some of my work for the last couple of days.

This pain reminds me how personal it is, how much it affects your life, your sleep, your ability to do your job or have fun, how frustrating it is to have limitations.  A client’s pain is not just a knot to be dealt with, a problem to be solved, a series of trigger points to be chased and resolved, it is the restoration of your ability to enjoy life.  I use my pain to remind me that each time someone comes to me for help I must treat the person and not just the problem.

How To Be Magnificent

Each time a class graduates from Lexington Healing Arts Academy they get to choose one of their teachers to speak at their ceremony.  I was honored to be chosen by the January Night Class of 2012, they truly were an exceptional group of people and I’m certain each of them will go on to be very talented therapists.

Here is the speech I gave this year.  Everyone enjoyed it and I hope you find it inspiring:

I want to share something that I found on the internet recently that had a profound effect on me.  It was a simple black and white line drawing of a little dog sitting in her little dog bed, clearly just awakened.  She has a thought bubble above her that says “Today I’m going to be magnificent”.    The little dog wasn’t boasting but setting an intention.  Not in the ‘it would be great if I did this at some point in the future’ way, but in the ‘this is my goal for today, I will be magnificent’.  The cartoon inspired me to give it a try, so, silly as it was I’d have a Stuart Smalley moment in the morning where I’d tell myself and the world “Today I’m going to be magnificent!”

I had to figure out what it was that was so transforming about that word “magnificent”.  I played around with it in my head and briefly came up with an image of me frolicking about in a flowing gold lame outfit tossing glitter into the air then realized I was confusing ‘magnificent’ with ‘fabulous’!  So I looked it up.  ‘Magnificent’ is defined as ‘glorious, wonderful, attended by brilliance or grandeur’.  Its synonyms include awesome, outstanding, superlative, brilliant, and my personal favorite, smashing.

I started saying my new mantra whenever I started to lose focus at work, when I got frustrated with something I was attempting to do, or when I would start getting down on myself for whatever reason.

I realized that setting the intention to be awesome, outstanding, superlative, and smashing made me hold myself to a higher standard.  At the very minimum I had to be the best I could be that day.  I thought of a time I came into work having an excruciatingly bad day and told my friend/boss ‘I don’t know if I can do this today’.  She told me that even if I only have 40% of myself to give that day, to give all of it.  That’s what being magnificent is.

If, at the least, being magnificent means being your best, at the most it means becoming an even better person.  It inspires me to find something new every day that I can add or take away from my life to make me a better person.  I might educate myself on something I’ve been curious about, spend a few more minutes at the gym, start a project, finish a project, ditch a bad habit, hone a new massage technique, or just smile a little more and be gentler towards myself and other people.

Each of you has been an outstanding student, you always gave your best and often went above and beyond what was expected.  Own it, carry that brilliance into your life and work.  Set your intentions, make them real.  When you wake in the morning or whenever you need a boost tell yourself “I am going to be magnificent” or whatever inspires you to be your best and better just for that day.  Rinse and repeat.  Every day is a crapshoot it might be fantastic or it might be awful but if you’re aiming for magnificence at least it will be as smashing as it can be.  

Gift Certificates Available Online…Again!

Purchase gift cards for 30, 60, 0r 90  minute massages online again!  I apologize for the delay in service but I had troubles with Pay Pal and have switched to Google Checkout.  Click on the Gift Certificates tab at the top of the page to be directed to the store.

I can also sell certificates over the phone or in office.  Call 859-576-9409 to order.