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All the New Things!

I’ve been talking about the “new things” for quite some time (so long you’ve probably forgotten I’ve said new things were coming!)  So here we are – all the newness, presented in one handy blog post.

UPDATED MENU OF SERVICES

I’ve restructured my menu of services to give a truer representation of what I do. The new Integrative Therapy Massage is our former Relaxation Massage with all of our Massage Enhancements thrown in. If you want a relaxation massage, no problem. If you need some reflexology, stretching, hot stones, or cupping, those techniques are available to you now at no additional charge. Aromatherapy and hot towels are still provided at no additional charge.

The Ashiatsu Deep Tissue Massage is unchanged. If you’re not familiar with Ashi, check out our video demonstration here.  If you need one of the extra tools from my mental toolbox, no worries, I’ll break that out for you as well. No extra charge.

I’ve added the Ashi-Express for when you need a quick lunch time fix. Available Tuesday – Friday 11:30am – 1:30pm, this 30-minute massage focuses on the back and neck to iron out the kinks and let you get back to your day.

WHY THE CHANGE?  It’s actually really simple. I want to offer my clients the benefits of ALL of my services. I don’t want to withhold a technique that can help you because you may not have an extra $15 that day. I don’t want my clients having to do extra math – it’s supposed to be a time to RELAX YOUR BRAIN – math isn’t relaxing (and if it IS relaxing for you, just let me know and I’ll come up with some word problems for you to solve during your next massage session).

ALL INCLUSIVE PRICING

Our prices are now all inclusive. You receive your massage, enhancements, AND gratuity for one reasonable rate.

WHY THE CHANGE? Again, it’s all about making life easier. You know how much your session is going to be, easy peasy.  I see clients calculating percentages, trying to remember what they tipped last time, and all that thinking undoes all the mental relaxation we’ve just achieved (see note above regarding extra math…). I’ve had clients be SUPER generous and then they find they can’t maintain that level of generosity, so they don’t come in for a massage, which makes me sad. By keeping it simple it makes life easier for all of us. Still want to share the love? Please review me on your favorite site: Yelp!, Facebook, Google

PRICING

Prices have been slightly adjusted to better represent the change in services. Pricing is all inclusive:

Integrative Therapy Massage $80 / hr;

Ashiatsu Deep Tissue Massage $90 / hr;

Ashi-Express $45 / 30 minutes

You may add time to your session for $1 / minute, billed in 15 minute increments (75 minute Integrative Therapy Massage = $95;  90 minute = $110, etc).

MOBILE MASSAGE

Our mobile massage rates have been adjusted to a $125 minimum for a 60 minute session (based on client’s location). Additional time is still billed at $1 / min (15 minute increments). If two people are receiving massages at the same location, the second 60 minute massage will be billed at my studio rate of $80. NOTE: All of our enhancements are not available for mobile massage (such as hot towels, hot stones and cupping) so please chat with me before booking.

WHY SUCH A LARGE DIFFERENCE IN PRICE? I know it seems like a large difference, but here’s the honest, mathematical breakdown:

  1. Drive time = minimum 20-30 minutes each way.  I hate being late so I leave enough time for traffic, weather, bridges, and trains. If I do mobile massage for you, I’m sure you can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been *gasp* tardy. Just for giggles, we’ll include loading and unloading the car, signing into security, etc into this time.
  2. Set up time = 15 minutes to set up, 15 minutes to tear down.
  3. The MASSAGE!

When you do the math I think you’ll agree that this is a great value for the convenience of an in-home massage.

CHAIR MASSAGE

I love, love, love bringing massage into the office place. I will come to your office and provide chair massage services on a one-time or recurring basis. My rates are extremely competitive and here’s a hint: The national chair massage companies hire ME to represent them. I’m giving you the opportunity to receive the same services AND save your company money! I am networked with a number of licensed and insured therapists, so I can staff any size event to meet your company’s needs. So go ahead, slip your HR manager my business card… you won’t regret it!

FEEDBACK

Let me know what you think – Do these changes resonate with with you? I’m always interested to hear what my clients and potential clients need. So don’t hesitate to share! You may email me directly at Erin@SimplyMassageFL.com or call me at 954-380-8829.

Cheers!

Erin

Interesting Places I Go #4 – People’s Homes

Ted, ready for his massage.

Being invited into someone’s home is always a great honor. I’ve been to very grand, lavish homes, and I’ve been to more modest abodes. Guarded gates, apartments, two-story walk-ups, and estates. But the feeling is the same: Your home is your sanctuary and you’ve invited me into your space to help maintain your wellness. I try to keep my transportation costs as low as possible, while also accounting for the travel time when I’m not massaging. Some therapists only work in a brick and mortar facility – they can massage 6+ hours a day, increasing their income. Some therapists only do mobile massage, foregoing the overhead of rent and other facility operating expenses. Me? I keep both. Why? For you. Some clients can only relax outside of their home. Some really enjoy the convenience of me coming to them. So I try to create a balance in my business to keep everyone happy. Yep, I’m a people pleaser. Side note: I only charge one transportation fee, so if husband and wife want massages at home, or you have company visiting and want to indulge in a little relaxation treat, there only one transportation fee and my regular rates apply to all massage services.

In addition to my regular massage joys of helping you get rid of your aches and pains, when I visit homes I sometimes I even get extra entertainment:

The Children

I treated a mother who was having the hardest day with her baby. I walked through the front door and he BEAMED at me. Flashed is beautiful blue eyes and gave me the biggest grin and giggle! She looked at me in disbelief and she may have been a little peeved. He had been a terror all. day. long. She just shook her head and told me she may never let me leave.

In a separate home I started to set up my equipment in the toddler’s bedroom. At the age of three, he did NOT like me being in his space and launched into a mini-tantrum (not super relaxing for mom and dad). I knelt down to talk to him and I promised that I wouldn’t touch any of his stuff and that I’d clean up all my mess and it would be exactly as he left it. With his permission, I was able to set up for the massages. It took a few extra minutes, but it was well worth it.

The Dogs

Oh the dogs! I think my clients’ dogs are the BEST. There is one super duper standard poodle who loves getting a little massage after his mommy gets hers. He leans on me and looks at me with his beautiful brown eyes and I just adore him! I’ll always take some time to share some massage love with the pooches that like it.

The Cats

Cats. Cats are tricky little buggers. Including my three cats. Felines tend to be at either end of a broad spectrum: they are terrified and want NOTHING to do with me. OR they want to be in the middle of EVERYTHING. It’s the latter that’s tricky. When you’re receiving a massage and the cat jumps on the table it can scare the bejezus out of you. That kind of undoes my work, which is a total bummer. There is an adorable kitty, who after months and months of me visiting, finally warmed up to me and will now allow me to touch her. On a particularly chilly morning, she hopped onto the foot of the table and nestled into the feet of her owner. Yes, it was adorable. Even the most curious kitties will usually settle down and be content to observe me from a distance.

So thank you for inviting me into your world – it’s always a pleasure for me!

 

 

 

Acupuncture and Massage

I received acupuncture for the first time about two years ago. I was always curious, but skeptical. I also felt like it took some research on my part – I didn’t want just anyone messing with my chi (I’ll get back to that in a moment). Honestly, I also REALLY didn’t want someone sticking needles in me who didn’t know what the heck they were doing. Here’s a little Acupuncture 101.

What is Acupuncture?

I think we all know it deals with needles, but the basic definition from the Mayo Clinic describes acupuncture through traditional Chinese medicine as a technique for balancing the flow of energy (Chi or Qi). Chi is believed to flow through pathways in your body (meridians). Western practitioners may view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue to increase blood flow and boost your body’s natural pain killers. Yes, I did discuss acupuncture with my primary care physician and he is completely supportive of it as an effective addition to my healthcare maintenance.

Chi

It wasn’t until I really got into massage and saw its benefits that I really started to look at other forms of “alternative” medicine. When treating an issue I prefer to combine Western and Eastern approaches. Western medicine has produced amazing research, cures, and benefits (my husband received a liver transplant and is cancer free due to Western medicine). However I think it’s beneficial to look at what came before it and remind ourselves of the energy we possess and the healing powers of our body and mind.

Back to my chi. Take from this what you will: When I touch a lot of people, sometimes it makes me really tired. Not in a physical pain kind of tired (although I get that too), but more in a “wow, they dumped all their energy into me,” kind of tired. The hands and feet can transfer a lot of energy both ways and especially when I work long, multi-day events in corporate environments, I feel weighed down by other people’s junk. That’s when I first looked into acupuncture. I felt like I was filled (FILLED) with other people’s junk and I wanted it to go away.

Acupuncturists

Acupuncturists are like massage therapists: it’s such a personal experience that you really need to be patient to find the right one for you. The first acupuncturist I saw was lovely. She specializes in treating infertility, which was not my coal, but I trusted her so I gave her a shot. I felt AMAZING after that first session. I went back about a month later, again feeling full of junk, and after that session I felt AWFUL. I felt like the energy blockage just moved somewhere else. It was not good. I’m not accusing the practitioner of doing anything wrong, but it just didn’t happen for me. Since she actually has a niche business, I decided it was best for me to find another practitioner. Then I found Julie. I’m so genuinely fond of Julie. We clicked and communicate effortlessly. Her treatments are thoughtful, thorough and she has great follow up (haha, as I’m writing this she just texted me to schedule my next session!). In combination with the rest of my healthcare regimen (yes, it includes regular massages) I’ve been feeling really great. Check out Julie’s website at Optium Health Acupuncture. She’s conveniently located in Hollywood, on Ocean Drive between the Diplomat Hotel and Hallendale Beach Boulevard.

When searching for an acupuncturist, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Are they licensed? You can look up any practitioner on the Florida Board of Acupuncture to see their license status. Side note: you should make sure your massage therapists are licensed too!
  2. Are they trained to practice Oriental Medicine? In Florida an Acupuncturist must complete a four year program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (as of 2001 – prior to that the requirements were less). There are no requirements for medical doctors or osteopaths to practice acupuncture; chiropractors may practice with 100 hours training. Here is a list of requirements by state: www.Acupuncture.com.
  3. Ask for referrals from people you trust. They aren’t always iron clad, but I’ve found that people will talk about (or blog about, heehee) people they like.

The Needles

Ohhh, the needles. I don’t have a fear of needles per se. What I really don’t care for is blood. To be more specific, blood coming out of ME. So when I get my blood drawn, I learned to simply look away. Easy peasy. But some people have a very strong aversion to needles. I wish I could help you. Julie works with people who are afraid of needles by starting out with the tuning forks and magnets. You just have to trust me on this – they are really cool. Anyway, there are ways, so talk to the acupuncturist and try not to dismiss it just because of the needles. I won’t lie, there are a few places that give a little pinch when they are inserted, but the discomfort doesn’t last. Most I don’t feel at all. Being in a relaxing environment helps – nice music, aromatherapy, warm table, bolsters under your head an knees, heat lamp on your belly… Thank you Julie!

Insurance

Check with your insurance. Some cover acupuncture and some, but not many (sadly) still cover massage therapy.

Acupuncture and Massage

Each therapy accesses the body at a different level. Using both together enhances the effectiveness of each, resulting in a more complete health treatment. They are truly complementary modalities, providing a large range of benefits for body and mind.

 

What is She (NOT) Doing To Me? Part 4 – The Dark Side of Massage

People want to know, but are embarrassed to ask. Once a man asked me and his wife smacked him (yes, she physically hit him and was MORTIFIED that he asked). I answered his questions and I’m going to answer yours. Yes, there is a dark side to massage. In certain areas of life I have been known to be a tad naive. It took me a LONG time to learn the lingo and tears were shed when I thought I had a legitimate client and all they wanted were services requiring a red light outside the door. So here it is. The down and dirty: Massage and Sex.

Despite State regulation,  illegitimate massage facilities seem to be on every corner with windows blacked out and neon lights a-glow. Each State has its own rules and regulations regarding massage services and some States have no regulation at all ( including; Alaska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Wyoming). In Florida, massage therapists are governed by the Department of Health. All licensed massage therapists must renew their license by August 31 of odd numbered years (this year!), their license must be openly displayed with their photograph, and all massage establishments (if you go to them for a massage) must have a separate license. So even though I’m a sole practitioner with no employees, I must have two licenses: one for me and one for my office (oh and pay all the licensing fees and taxes to the State, the County, and the City). Even with all of the regulation, there is no end to the advertisements for “sensual massage,” “light touch massage,” and “girls to do body rubs – no training necessary.” In case you were wondering, sexual activity is illegal in the massage business.

Sadly, the massage industry, as well as acupuncture and other health and spa services, has been used as a front for human trafficking. The victims are usually Asian women of diverse ethnicities and nationalities including Korean, Thai, Chinese, and ethnically Korean-Chinese citizens. The businesses are made to seem legitimate and the women are forced into “commercial sex.” For more information or if you know someone who is a victim, you may contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

On the flip side, legitimate massage therapists are regularly plagued by Creepers (an unofficial term used to describe how you make us feel). I try to make my advertising professional and use terms like “therapeutic” to make it clear that I don’t work on the Dark Side. Creepers tend to make the rounds – and if you’re a new therapist you can probably expect to receive more calls from them as you establish yourself. However, therapists do talk about it. A Creeper made it into my office once, several years ago. Everything about him screamed Creeper to me. He invaded my personal space, and during the massage wanted his inguinal (groin) region massaged. No, I didn’t do it. Yes, he used the term “inguinal” (he was a medical professional). I was upset at the end of the session. Honestly, I was also confused. His status in the community made me feel like I must have misunderstood his intentions. I called one of my besties, a seasoned massage professional. “Oh, he found you! I had forgotten about him! Yeah, he’s a total Creeper.” She wasn’t the only therapist who knew him by name. I never treated him again.

Important lesson learned: Follow my gut. I always follow my gut. She has never done me wrong. When I’ve tried to ignore her, I find she’s always right. Now I just listen and don’t doubt her. These are some things that usually set her off:

Creeper: Do you use draping?

Yes, I always use draping. I know some clients don’t like it. I will always, always, always, always use some form of draping. My go-to is a sheet with a blanket to keep you warm. If it’s too hot I’ll remove the blanket. If you prefer a towel, just tell me. But if you want my massage, your privates will be covered.

Creeper: Why do you need my last name? 

If I could hang up on you twice I would.

Creeper: Do you do Light Touch Massage?

There are a host of phrases the Creeper will use that sound innocent, but really aren’t. Terms like light touch, feather light, tension release, gentle touch, sensual massage, and hot oil are code words for things I do not do.

Creepers and Hand Holding

Explanation for non-Creepers: When you are on your stomach (prone) and the therapist is working on your forearm, your flexor muscles are triggered, causing your fingers to curl. At this point, some Creepers will hold your hand. And keep holding. Therapists can tell the difference between a finger curl reflex and hand holding (remember, we went to school for this). My Gut Rule: I will stop doing whatever it is I’m doing that’s making you misbehave. Abruptly. You’ll know it’s not okay. While we’re here, this applies to all body parts. Guys have it the most difficult. Sometimes things stir and you aren’t doing it on purpose. Therapists know that too. We know you’re not all Creepers. However I will stick to the Gut Rule and will stop doing whatever I’m doing so you can get things under control. Yes, we know you can get it under control.

In Honor of All Male Massage Therapists

Don’t assume for a second that the “ladies” out there are all innocent. I have heard terrible stories from male massage therapists who are treated aggressively and inappropriately by women searching for sexual favors. I can say that no client has ever grabbed me in any way – I can’t say that for my male counterparts. If you’re wondering WHY I would subject myself to this profession, let me be the first to tell you: There is a dark side to life. Estheticians? Yep, they get it, performing facials. DENTAL HYGIENISTS – oh my gosh I had no idea how much abuse they take from Creepers; and they are cleaning TEETH! My corporate jobs? I dealt with inappropriate behavior every. single. day. Bottom line? I love my work. Now that I’m in my 5th year of massage therapy I’ve developed a thicker skin and when a Creeper crosses my path I deal with it and move on.

To close, I’m going to share one of my favorite videos about massage therapy. It makes me laugh every time I watch it. Yeah, it’s totally true:

What is She Doing To Me? Part 3 – The Truth About Deep Tissue

I was recently at a forum with twelve massage therapists from across the county, in various stages of their massage careers. Our opinions varied on different topics but one thing we agreed on: we dislike, possibly HATE, the term “Deep Tissue.” We would like to eliminate it from the vocabulary of everyone we know. Why? The general population doesn’t really know what it means. So I’m going to try to offer up a little education.

Full disclosure: I simply don’t believe in the “no pain no gain” approach to massage. Some people want it to hurt. They think it needs to hurt to work. I beg to differ. I have been complimented for giving a very intuitive massage and I pride myself on listening to the client’s body. A client recently said to me, “It’s like you know it’s going to hurt before I do.” Yes, I do. Because your body tells me and it tells me more than you think. For example, if your muscle kicks me off (I’ve had muscles practically buck me off like a bucking bronco!), and I force my elbow in anyway, your muscles are going to seize up. They do this because they think you are in danger and they are trying to protect you. The massage will be ineffective because your muscle is fighting against the elongation I’m trying to achieve. The more relaxed you are, the more your muscles trust me, the deeper I can go.

But what is Deep Tissue Massage. Basically, it’s massage that reaches the deeper layers of muscle tissue and fascia. Duh, Erin, that’s what the NAME says. True, but the real question is how does a therapist get to those muscles? Deep Tissue techniques are supposed to be very slow and use light lubrication. That’s all great too, but to get to the deeper layers, we have to work through the upper layers. Stop for a minute and think about it. That includes any superficial muscles, the fascia, and all other tissue obstacles. If we can’t get through the upper layers, how do we get to the deeper layers? A true deep tissue massage would take many, many HOURS.  In addition, forcing myself into your body can hurt ME. As much leverage as I may be able to use, if your back is like a cinder block wall, and I’m just digging in, there’s a good chance I’m going to strain an elbow, hurt my back, or blow out a thumb.

What about your Ashiatsu deep tissue massage, Erin, you big talker, you? Ahhh, I’m so glad you asked. The beauty of Ashiatsu is that it can soften superficial tissue faster, AND reach the deeper tissue without the pointy elbows and bony forearms. So? Remember when I mentioned your muscles will seize up to protect you if they think you are in danger? The gliding motions of the Ashiatsu massage keep you and your body relaxed and your body will ALLOW me to access deeper tissue. Plus, this advanced technique allows me to give you the pressure you desire without hurting myself. It’s a win-win in the world of Deep Tissue that looks like it’s here to stay.

 

What is She Doing To Me? Part 2 – Why Do I have Knots?

I get this question a lot. Why do I have knots? What can I do to NOT get knots?  I cannot tell you how often I wish I had an MRI machine embedded in my brain. I’d love to see every muscle, scar, tear, break, and knot. It would be my super power (and flying – I mean flying is a super power given right?). Alas, all I can do is feel. I’ve been praised with giving a very intuitive massage and I hear so often, “You found every place that hurt!” Even that magical MRI wouldn’t be able to see the cause of the issue: be it physical or emotional. Let’s get technical for a moment. Here’s a little groundwork that explains your body1:

Fascia                                               

Fascia Close Up

Fascia is a type of connective tissue (the most abundant tissue type in the body) that possesses two physical states: Sol state and Gel state. Massage can change the fascia from the more gelatinous Gel state to the more pliant and elastic Sol state. When in the Sol state, the fascia allows muscles and trigger points to be manipulated. Hydration is key to helping the transformation between the two states.

 

Muscles

Muscles allow the body to move, maintain posture, and produce heat. They respond to signals from the nervous system.

Spasms

A spasm is a localized muscle contraction, usually caused by the stress of a minor injury like a strain or contusion. When the neurological stimulation causing the spasm is repeated in succession, a knot may form in part or all of the muscle.

Trigger Points

Trigger points are similar to spasms, but can be found in muscle, tendons, fascia, and ligaments. However, trigger points in the muscle are basically neurochemical events that cause fibers to stick together creating a knot or rigid zone.

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Now for the why: When I say, “I don’t know,” or  “you can’t do anything to stop them,” I see the disappointment on your face. I answer that way because there are SO many reasons you may be experiencing pain. Most are daily activities. Here are a few:

Fine motor movements: keyboarding or playing a musical instrument require your body to perform movements of constant fine motor control while maintaining posture.

Gross motor movements: yard work, sports, or exercise that use large muscle groups.

Posture: Yep, we don’t think about it, but resisting the force of gravity is work for our bodies.

Stress and Fatigue: Anxiety and depression. A muscle will spasm in response to stress like it will to a physical injury. The stress may be emotional or physical.

Inactivity: Sorry, if you do nothing at all, ever, you will not avoid the pain. Think about it: when you have been lying or sitting for an extended period of time you get up with pain and stiffness.

Direct trauma, disease, and disorders: From a slip and fall or car accident to fibromyalgia or arthritis, the body reacts to all of these conditions.

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So how do you fix it? I feel a teeny tiny bit bad when I say, “massage,” (sometimes I get actual eye rolling and an “of course,” from people when I say “massage”) but massages will truly help. They aid in circulation, loosening that fascia so your muscles move more freely, and releasing those knots that are causing you discomfort. The list of benefits is endless: both physical and emotional. Here are a few other helpful tips to keep you going between your massage sessions:

Everything in Moderation: The two worst things for your body are over use and no use.

Drink Water: Because I said so. The rule of thumb is 0.5oz per pound of your body weight. So if you weigh 130lbs, you should be drinking 65oz of water per day (that’s about eight, 8oz glasses). No. Coffee is not water. No. Soda is not water.

Warm Up Properly: If you don’t warm up prior to exercise you risk muscular tears and facial restrictions that will limit performance. Give yourself a minimum of 5-10 minutes of warm up. It’s worth it.

Try to be Healthy: Good nutrition promotes healing. Excessive use of alcohol or barbiturates slow metabolism. Disease or habits may decrease oxygen supply: smoking, diabetes, sleep apnea.

Circulation: Promoting good circulation is so important for tissue healing. Circulation delivers oxygen and removes waste-product. Massage is great for circulation. So is a healthy diet, drinking water, not smoking, and managing stress.

The body is an amazing thing. Be kind to it. Be kind to yourself. You will be rewarded.

Cheers!

Erin

1 Salvo, S. Massage Therapy Principles and Practice. Third Edition (2007).