HobaCare Blog

These days we see articles everywhere promoting self care. While this is wonderful, it can get confusing: where to start, when to squeeze different practices into your day and how to figure out which ones are a good fit for you and your lifestyle.

One simple option to try out is something called Abhyanga! You may have heard of it as it comes from the ancient Indian health system of Ayurveda, popularized through yoga communities and found much more often now in mainstream wellness for its many beneficial health practices.

Abhyanga, or self massage, is a very simple, very nourishing home practice to add to your morning or evening routine. All you need to carve out is an extra 5-15 minutes, depending on you preference. It is low effort, with a high pay off.

By applying warm “oil” (in this case, jojoba) to your whole body and massaging each portion gently as you go, you increase circulation, calm the nervous system, stimulate lymphatic drainage, improve muscle tone and suppleness of the skin – our largest, and very hard working organ.

If you’re already familiar with Abhyanga, you may be surprised to find out jojoba is suitable for this practice. Often, and traditionally speaking, Ayurveda advises using sesame or coconut oil, depending on your personal constitution. (Google doshas for more info). But we have found out from Ayurvedic practitioners that jojoba makes a wonderful additional option that is neutral/supportive to all dosha types.

Some benefits to choosing pure jojoba over sesame/coconut oils
- it’s non-allergenic
- won’t clog pours
- will not go rancid, even when heated repeatedly
- won’t stain or remain in your towels

That last plus is a big one due to most Abhyanga instructions informing you you’ll need to keep a separate towel for this practice because you’ll eventually need to throw it out due to rancid oil remaining in the fibers even after washing. Oils and fabric, just don’t mix, but jojoba does very well, as it washes out in a hot wash cycle (see our laundering directions for more info).

There are several variations of the practice, so don’t feel you have to get it “just right” for you enjoy it’s rewards. Traditionally, one is told to apply oil to the skin and bathe afterwards. Some give an updated twist of showering beforehand, which we recommend to save your plumbing and avoid slipping. Experiment – you’ll find what works for you, as long as you just give it a try!

Simple Abhyanga Steps:

Take your small bottle of pure jojoba, and heat it by setting in a cup of very warm water. Place a towel on your closed toilet set for sitting comfortably and place your bath mat under your feet, to keep from slipping.

Start from your head, massaging the scalp, possibly without jojoba just yet, if you don’t wish for it to be in your hair.

As you go, pour your warmed jojoba into your hands and work your way gently over your whole body.

Small circular motions to massage your facial muscles.

Perhaps use more pressure to work on loosening tight neck and shoulder muscles.

For the abdomen, follow the direction of your large intestine by moving clockwise, up the right side of your stomach, across and down the left side.

On limbs, use long strokes along your long bones and circular strokes over your joints.

Many instructions encourage you to massage by moving your strokes in the direction of your heart.

Finish up with your hardworking feet, making sure they don’t miss out on the all the goodness.

If you have excess jojoba on your skin and you wish to go about your day, perhaps towel off a little, or have a warm shower without using soap (but please be careful of it being slippery).

Extra self care points if use this opportunity for a little mindfulness practice, simply by focusing your attention on your breathing and the action of each loving application of jojoba to your body, allowing thoughts and feelings to simply come and go during your self massage.

Consider creating a space in your bathroom that tells your mind and body these 5-15 minutes are for your wellbeing, by making sure the room is comfortably warm or perhaps using your favorite essential oils for relaxation or energization. Even just placing a flower from your yard in a vase, or including a special momento on your sink counter can create a personalized feeling of healing.

While there is a ton of information online about Abhyanga, do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or feedback. Have you tried this self care practice? We’d love to hear your experience with it or tips for others who want to give it a try.

Often when I see articles about self care I skip over them because they make me feel guilty. Guilty you say? About What? Well the fact is, I never did all those great self care things that they told me I should be doing in school. I never took the yoga classes I said I was going to. Well, I took two classes, private… they were awesome. I practiced maybe 3 times and that was the end of that. Hmm, maybe yoga just isn’t my thing? I really want it to be, but in all honesty, I just have to admit to myself that for now, it’s not. I can’t seem to let it go yet, so it just hangs over me like a guilt cloud.

I also don’t get enough massage myself. That’s a tricky thing both mentally and physically for me. In my head I sometimes don’t feel like I “deserve” that massage… maybe because I had a slow week and don’t really feel I’ve put in enough work time. In actuality, that’s really the best time to receive! When you’re able to jump on the table and not worry that you’re going to be done in time for your next client!

massage

And then there is the whole trade “thing”. That can also be tricky! I had a very nice trade going on, every two weeks, in my studio… so I didn’t have to travel, but I had the sheets. It worked great for a while, but then we got off schedule with travels, illness etc… and it has just gone by the wayside. And it was actually during my last massage that I realized that I wasn’t enjoying it as much and that my favorite massage techniques were not included and some of the techniques were honestly annoying. Should I have spoken up? Yes, probably, but could I? No way. I love this person and in no way would want any feelings scorched. So I have let that trade just fall away. It’s OK. I have come to the conclusion that it’s just better to pay and go to a therapist that I feel like seeing. Problem being, I don’t do it enough!! Palm slapping forehead here!

Remember all that great self care we did in school? Remember all that massage that we had! Some better than others for sure, but I know I was super lucky to have a small class, and 90% of those massages were spot on. And we had “spa” days! Oh, such heaven. And we did Tai Chi, and stretching, and warm-ups, and centering, and we had time for lunch! Would I go back to school for those things? NO WAY!! But it is fun to look back and reminisce. And it does help to jog my brain into thinking about self care, and how I should be more mindful of it.

What about binge watching one of my favorite shows? Is that considered self care? I say, why not?! It’s something I do for my own sanity, so shouldn’t that count as self care? It totally takes me away from reality for a short time, gets my mind off my own “stuff”. It’s good, almost like meditation, right? OK, that’s a stretch, but it works for me.

gardening for self care

And then there is gardening. Now that’s one of the best self care activities I know! You get the physical workout… shoveling, raking, bending, stretching every muscle you own! Plus, for me gardening is very meditative. I’m quiet, with my thoughts, and even sometimes I come up with new revelations, or nothing in particular, just gratitude… for the day, for the life, for the bounty, for the amazing way our earth produces for us. Then there is the ultimate reward of gardening which is the organic veggies I eat fresh and preserve (in one form or another) to benefit from all year. Sounds like self care to me.

Then, there is tennis. The one sport, the love of my life! I play all I can. I used to watch it on tv too, but no longer have the channels to watch (maybe that’s a good thing). Tennis is great because there is that cardio interval thing at work, lots of stretching, running, and hand eye coordination. Then there is the mind working at strategy! It’s a very strategic game and that’s one of the things I love about it, and why, after decades of playing, I am still interested in getting out there a batting a ball back and forth over the net. No two games/points are ever alike. I just love it. And being outdoors is such a bonus. I play all summer long… actually, spring through fall until it gets too cold or they take the nets down. Then I move indoors for the winter.

jojoba oil for skin care

And a word or two about self care that pertains to just the physical body and what we as therapists NEED to do routinely to keep us coming back to the table. We all know about keeping nails and cuticles in shape… I mean, how many times a day/week do you trim your fingernails? For me it’s an every day, often multiple times a day routine. I have a major fear of causing any discomfort because of my ragged cuticles or too long nails. This may stem from an incident in school, but regardless it has become one of my absolute obsessions. As therapists we also have to constantly be aware of our breath, body odor, and general state of cleanliness. I believe this is all part of self care as well. One of the epiphanies I had, occurred during a cold and dry Maine winter. My skin and hands were so dry. In my search for the right product to use, that “duh” moment arrived where you slap your forehead and say to yourself “I can’t believe you didn’t think of this before”. I had a bottle of Jojoba at home with me for use with outcalls so I figured why not just use jojoba to moisturize at home? It’s fragrance free, soaks in so fast and doesn’t feel greasy, and the best thing is it comes pesticide free or organic and has only ONE ingredient… jojoba! The rest they say is history! I have been using jojoba in my daily skin care routine ever since. I use it as a facial moisturizer as well as all over. It also is a great makeup remover! And in the dead of winter, I also do a scalp treatment now and then. It feels marvelous and my hair is lustrous afterwards.

So not only do I use jojoba for my clients, I use it for my self care! It’s so simple. I want the best for my clients, but for myself as well. And I only have to buy ONE product. Jojoba has so many uses. I also use jojoba as a carrying oil to mix with essential oils. It’s so wonderful because it doesn’t go rancid (not that it ever stays around long enough for that to happen), and is so economical for that reason.

Well, these are some of my thoughts and ideas about self care. What do you do for self care? Are there things you do that aren’t “traditional” self care activities? We do our best, right. I often say, if we did ALL the things we are told we should be doing every day, we wouldn’t have time to live! So carry on, do the best you can, and massage on!

(This blog post is the first from our Director of Strategic Growth, Cari Balbo, herbalist and maker of herbal skincare products at Ridge Pond Herbals. Over the coming months, Cari will be sharing more herbal infused jojoba recipes and different ideas for using jojoba here on our blog.)

jojoba lavender salve

If you’re looking for a gift to make for Mother’s Day, here’s an easy jojoba salve that is both simple to put together and luxurious to use. All you need is our jojoba, some beeswax, and dried lavender flowers and/or lavender essential oil.

jojoba

To start, you can use either plain jojoba or lavender infused jojoba (to make lavender infused jojoba, see our past blog post ). For every cup (8 fluid ounces) of jojoba you’ll be using, weigh out 1 ounce of beeswax on a scale (of course you can make smaller amounts, just keep the proportions the same; for this batch I used 2 fluid ounces of jojoba and a ¼ ounce by weight of beeswax). Combine the jojoba and beeswax in a heatproof pyrex or metal cup and place in an oven set at 200 degrees until the beeswax has melted (alternatively you can use a double boiler for this step).

Once the beeswax has melted, pour the hot liquid carefully (be sure to protect your hands) into a heat-proof container or containers (preferably glass or metal). If you didn’t use lavender infused jojoba for this, or just want to up the lavender scent in your final product, now is the time to add some lavender essential oil. When it comes to essential oils, I follow the typically safe rule of 12 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of liquid (a 2% dilution rate). The salve jars pictured here are each 1 ounce sized and had 12 drops of my favorite lavender essential oil added to each while the jojoba/beeswax was still liquid. If your salve container is a different size, adjust the amount of essential oil (you can always add fewer than 12 drops per ounce, just don’t add more).

Once your salve is cool, you only need to label it and it will be ready for gifting. This salve is softer than some and will spread easily on the skin. It’s lovely for hands, lips, and all-over body for a fragrant, skin conditioning treat. The aromatherapy benefit of the lavender is an added bonus. Enjoy!

making lavender infused jojoba

In massage school, I was taught not to massage people that had cancer. I translated this to, people with cancer can/should not receive massage. What I was soon to find out is that people with cancer CAN and SHOULD have a massage... but, only in the hands of a therapist trained in oncology massage. Let me explain. Anyone with cancer can tell you about the miserable side effects of the disease and its various treatments. Chemo can cause severe nausea. Radiation can lead to fatigue. Cancer patients are constantly being stuck with needles, poked, prodded and find themselves in a continual state of anxiety wondering “what’s next”, “how will I cope”, “is this covered by my insurance”, “will I lose my job”... etc., etc. While the research is continuing, what we know is what our clients with cancer tell us.

And that is, massage helps them the most with these 5 symptoms:
Pain
Nausea
Fatigue
Anxiety
Depression

Oncology Patient Sits by a window

Most people with cancer will suffer from several, if not all, of these symptoms at some point. Symptoms may be caused by the treatment, or the disease itself. And in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Our goal as oncology massage therapists is to provide whatever relief we can, without causing any harm to the client. It’s so important that cancer patients who are getting a massage, do so from a therapist who has specialized training in oncology massage because cancer patients are at risk for things like lymphedema and blood clots. Therapists trained in oncology massage take a detailed history and spend extra time talking to the client before any hands-on work takes place. We are careful to talk about things like tumor sites, port sites, biopsy and/or removal of lymph nodes, surgery (where, when, why), what type of treatments have happened and when. We screen for DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and lymphedema history and risk. We take into account the person’s ability to lie on a massage table and for how long and in what positions. We take into account all of the pertinent information and devise a massage therapy plan using this information so that we do not cause any harm or exacerbate any condition. We also can refer someone to another therapist for different treatment if needed, for example, if a client is experiencing lymphedema, we can refer him or her to a therapist trained in treating lymphedema. Or, if our client is having issues with scarring, from surgery for example, we can refer them to a therapist trained in scar work.

hand massage

Oncology massage therapists are also trained to follow up with their clients so that the massage plan can be adjusted in order to better serve the client. For example, if a client finds that nausea becomes an issue on the third day after chemo, the therapist can adjust the plan to provide the massage on day 3 when symptoms are the worst. If the client finds it too taxing to get to the therapist for massage on day three, that can be adjusted to day 2 or 4. By keeping in constant contact with the client, the client can be best served and massage treatment can provide the maximum benefit.

Cancer Patient in Mirror

What really needs to happen now is to educate our health care providers in the benefits of massage therapy so they are sure to offer it to their patients. Think how great it would be if everyone undergoing symptom producing cancer treatments knew that massage could potentially help alleviate things like nausea, fatigue, pain, and anxiety! Imagine being able to offer cancer patients a relaxing, gentle touch to alleviate their symptoms rather than offering another pill or painful &/or expensive procedure. Massage clients with cancer report feeling a decrease in pain and anxiety, an increase in relaxation and energy after a massage. I had one client who would come to me for her massage feeling very nauseated, but afterward she would say “I’m going to go have my breakfast now. The nausea is gone.” I could visibly recognize a decrease of anxiety in her face as well. How amazingly satisfying for both the client and therapist!! That is a fringe benefit of being an oncology massage therapist that I had not anticipated. Massage can be a powerful complementary treatment for cancer patients. As well, oncology massage has such a spiritual and soulful component, that it’s as therapeutic for the giver as it is for the receiver. It’s not easy taking care of people who have received life-shattering news. It takes skill to listen acutely and not to label or make assumptions in someone’s treatment or even their choice not to have treatment. But if we can make a difference, comfort wise, in someone’s day, it’s a reward beyond compare.

Hopefully, as time goes on, massage will be offered in more and more settings and covered by more and more insurances. This is my little dream. I’ll do my best, where I can, to help this become a reality. In the meantime, I will continue to offer this wonderful treatment to people who live in a world of pain and anxiety producing fear. One person at a time, using training and skill to help alleviate suffering.

If you are would like more information on product sensitivity in cancer patients, read this article by Geralyn O'Brien on Cancer and Onoclogy Skincare.

Do you ship jojoba to

One of our most frequently asked questions is: Do you ship to {insert country}? We ship to many countries around the world and our website will create a shipping quote for you based on the destination country and the products you want to purchase.

If you are looking for large quantities of jojoba (over 32 gallons), calling us directly for a freight quote is the best option. If you want to purchase a few bottles, the website is the fastest and easiest way to get your jojoba on the way to your mailbox. We understand the process can be a bit confusing, as many websites are different, so here's how it works on our website.

Jojoba oil shipped worldwide

Select the products you want from the options (we have both certified organic and pesticide free). Please note that some countries have a personal use limit, check with your local government officials before ordering to avoid issues with your order!

Jojoba oil shipped worldwide

When entering your address, select your country from the dropdown list at checkout. After entering your address submit it, on the next screen you will see a variety of shipping options with prices next to each one. These shipping quotes are generated in real time using your address as well as the dimensions and weight of our package, we use the same system in our office for shipping quotes (so they will be the same on the website and if you call in).

Jojoba oil shipped worldwide

If you experience any difficulties, our offices are open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm EST, give us a call (800) 256-5622 and we can help you get it sorted out.

Why I use jojoba for massage

One of the things that inspired me to become a massage therapist was my experience with a massage therapist who gave me a weekly massage after I was in a car accident. This wonderful woman encouraged me to attend school and become a massage therapist. I plan to talk more about her in the future, but today I want to thank her for introducing me to jojoba. That’s the product she used for all of her massages and I always loved it as a recipient of massage. I never came away feeling “greasy” or feeling like I needed to go home and take a shower. My skin just felt soft and well hydrated. Naturally, when it came time for me to select a product to use in my own practice, I began by using 100% pure jojoba from The Jojoba Company. I used it all through school, interspersed with all of the other products that other students used and the samples that were provided for us by various companies. I never liked using any other products better than jojoba. It continues to be my #1 massage medium of choice and here’s why:

hand massage

In my practice, I am blessed to specialize in oncology massage. You have probably known someone who has been through cancer and its treatment. But suffice it to say, the ensuing side effects often leave people nauseous, queasy, and with aversions to odors. Jojoba is totally unscented, clients simply feel its silkiness without any scent. It can, however, also serve as the perfect carrier for essential oils should that be desired for any application. Another benefit of using jojoba is that because of it being chemically different from an “oil” (it’s actually an ester… remember that from chemistry class?) it does not go rancid! We all know that smell, right? You’ve had that container of oil in the closet for just a little too long and woof, it smells bad, that oil is now wasted. Or, oops, that set of sheets sat too long, stuck in the back of the closet or laundry bag… and no amount of washing can get that rancid oil smell out of the sheets, so you have to pitch the sheets -- expensive. But not so when using jojoba. At least that has been my experience. I used to work with several other therapists who used other products for skin lubrication. We all used the same sheets and those sheets needed to be replaced yearly because of the odor they retained from the other products. Since I have been in solo practice, using only jojoba, I have never had that problem.

One of the other reasons I like using jojoba is that a little goes a long way. I was taught that deep tissue massage requires no lubrication, however, living in the great northeast where we have long winters, and lots of dry skin, I find I need just “a little something” sometimes. It’s easy to dispense just a tiny bit of jojoba to provide the exact amount of lubrication that I need. But for oncology massage, where I’m using very slow, long, and light pressure strokes, I can use more jojoba if needed due to dry and often sensitive skin which may be caused by some cancer treatments. Because jojoba is just one ingredient, not a conglomeration of a lot of different oils, extracts, scents, and who knows what else, it is hypoallergenic. And for people with sensitive skin this is huge! It also doesn’t clog pores, just another side benefit, so I use it for a facial massage with complete confidence.

Why I Use Jojoba for Massage

Probably the best reason I know of for choosing jojoba is for the way it feels. There are so many reasons that I use the product, but for me the bottom line is how it works for massage. I like the sheerness of the product, meaning, I get a really good feel for the tissues beneath my fingers. I feel that I can easily regulate how much glide or friction I can achieve. With oncology massage, it’s a lot about the glide, but not a light and tickly touch. There needs to be full contact with a gentle, smooth glide, and I can get that using jojoba. I have tried other products and find that I have to reapply much more often which really disrupts my flow. And speaking about me and my flow, I like that my own hands and arms don’t feel greasy and sticky after using jojoba. Yes, sometimes it IS about us, the massage therapists!! It’s great to be able to use a product that I love to have on MY skin. It’s a big deal, because who’s up to their elbows (literally) in skin lubricant on a daily basis… yup, you got it, we massage therapists!!

So keeping on thinking those deep massage thoughts, and sometimes gently gliding massage thoughts. But consider trying jojoba. You may discover a new delight in your life! Think deeply about what you are putting on your skin and your clients’. Oh, did I mention, jojoba comes in both Pesticide Free
and Organic? So there’s even less unwanted “stuff” getting in through your skin. Deep massage thoughts!

Introducing Ginnie, a friend that will be writing some great articles for us here about massage therapy. You may also see her at our booth at the AMTA conferences, if you attend, stop by and say "Hi".

https://www.amtamassage.org/index.html

Hi, I’m Ginnie. I’m an RN with a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. Several years ago I decided it was time to consider a second career (more on that in a future blog). Suffice it to say, for now, that sometimes you just know when it’s time to move on. I was fortunate to be able to attend Down East School of Massage . It was crazy… rediscovering all that anatomy and physiology and pathology. It’s all stuff that I learned so long ago (a great deal of which had been forgotten or rather, secured deeply in a hidden part of my brain). Amidst all of that re-learning, I remembered how much I really like this stuff! I chose massage therapy as my second career because it employs so many elements of my nursing career that I dearly love, you know, all of those bits that drew me to nursing in the first place. Things like nurturing, caring, listening, teaching, helping to decrease pain, being organized, using my own grey matter, and just plain hands-on helping people feel better. What I love about massage therapy is that it involves all of these aspects of care and at the end of the day I feel I’ve really done something worthwhile. I also love that I have not caused any pain via needles, catheters, or other scary medical apparatus. I feel I’ve helped someone with something as simple as an hour of uninterrupted relaxation (actually NOT that simple), or relief from physical pain, or by taking an emotional vacation, or maybe even by providing a little bit of the healing intention and love that the client can feel through my hands. How cool is that?! I am grateful for the opportunity massage therapy has given me to do what I really love. I never knew how much I would really love it.

Well then, after finding such a fulfilling new career and working at a private massage and bodywork studio, two pivotal events occurred. #1 - I began to wonder if there was a way that I could incorporate my medical background into my massage practice, and #2 - My husband was diagnosed with cancer. It was during his stem cell transplant that I met his first nurse who proclaimed that she was a massage therapist that became a nurse. When I told her I had just completed the opposite transformation, she exclaimed how lucky my husband was to have brought his own private massage therapist with him to the hospital and how I could make his transplant more comfortable with massage. Now honestly, I was stunned at this revelation because I was taught in school that cancer patients were not eligible to receive massage. Sadly I was too afraid to disclose my ignorance to this nurse or I would have asked her what it was that I could do for my husband.

Fast forward three months… my husband was home from the hospital and I was back to work where I asked my boss about massage for people with cancer. She recommended an amazing course offered by a woman teaching oncology massage. I went home that evening, found there was a course beginning in 3 weeks, only 4 hours away! The next day I asked my boss for the time off, it was granted and the next thing I knew I was immersed in the world of oncology massage with Tracy Walton. I could literally write an entire blog about what an amazing pioneer Tracy Walton is, how much I admire her and have learned from her. Tracy is a true mentor, humble to the core, unpretentious, and her integrity impeccable. In my book, they haven’t invented enough good words to describe this remarkable woman and the work she does. I ended up taking two of her courses and embarked on a new path incorporating OMT (oncology massage therapy) into my practice. I LOVE being able to offer knowledge, comfort and hope to those suffering from a new cancer diagnosis, going through the oftentimes horrendous rigors of treatment, post-treatment/cancer-free status, and beyond. Also, it’s lovely to be able to offer support to caregivers!! They also have such stress, sadness, and anxiety. What an honor it has been so far. I have spent a lot of energy educating… trying to get the word out that OMT is available and very worthwhile in so many respects.

So, that’s a bit about me. What about you? What drew you to massage therapy, and is it what you thought it would be? Let me know some of your deep massage thoughts!

At one of our staff meetings in November, Bill made the recommendation that instead of the usual office holiday gift exchange, we put the $25 towards buying items for the Waldoboro Food Pantry. The company matched the donation, which gave us $250 to spend on items for the local food pantry. On Wednesday, we closed the office at 1 and headed to a local store, filled up our carts, then delivered the goods. We really enjoyed this opportunity to give back this holiday season in our community!


donating to the waldoboro food pantry
donating to the waldoboro food pantry

donating to the waldoboro food pantry

"Each practitioner upon entering a profession is invested with the responsibility to adhere to the standards of ethical practice and conduct set by the profession."

An active massage therapy practice is the result of hard work, education, and a credible professional reputation. We can advertise, use social media, network with other health professionals, but our reputation is the corner stone of successful practice. Ethical dilemmas are a part of our society and to think we are never going to be exposed to a professional ethical dilemma is naïve. What if your employer suggests you give extras in your workplace and you are strapped for money? We know this is unethical. Shall we sweep it under the rug and say it never happens? That would be like saying that crime does not exist. And since denying that this practice is not what therapeutic massage therapists do, what should we do now? People have faults. People make mistakes. We can deny this happens and it is all fantasy or we can investigate the ethical pathways that help us stay on the straight and narrow.

How do we practice ethically? We have to make sure that our professional identity is clear, otherwise the work can be laden with stress, be less satisfying and ethical dilemmas are apt to appear and remain unresolved. Therapists have to continually follow a code of ethics and attend continuing education in ethics. Ethics goes beyond school and the ethics class. We represent an entire profession and if we practice unethically it reflects back to our field. This is our responsibility. The value of attending an ethics class is to remind us of our boundaries that will help maintain our stellar reputations, bolster our existing character traits and toss around ways to solve ethical dilemmas in the work place environment. Operating without peer advice can lead to snap decisions that are not necessarily the best ethical avenue. Protect your corner stone of your practice by exploring the boundaries of the profession and sharing ethical dilemmas with your peers and with an expert with an objective ear!

Somewhere along the line of our practice, we have to develop value in our ethical foundation. Developing value in your practice represents an investment in maximal competence, a sense of duty to uphold standards, protecting relationships, boundaries and honesty with clients, employers and colleagues/health professionals. Work should be satisfying and grow with you and your practice involving developing goals.

How do we develop and keep the value in Ethics beyond school and into our practice?

  • Modeling – Adhere to the highest standards of conduct.
  • Enforcement – Unethical behavior should not be tolerated.
  • Communication – Maintain a open dialogue about ethics as an investment for schools, students, faculty, CE providers, therapists and industry ethics, and for our reputation as a whole.
  • Transparency – Openly post codes of ethics and mission statements. Have policies posted on how you deal with ethical issues.
  • Oversight – Support organizations, boards, associations, schools, etc. to maintain consistent enforcement policies and have committees that review codes.
  • Education – Promote ethical courses and dialogue in all aspects of our profession.
  • Prevention – Recognize at the outset where conflicts of interest may arise and put specific safeguards in place. Utilize and develop policies before a problem presents itself.

A code of ethics does not ensure ethical behavior. We have to construct an ethical culture for our industry and it starts with our investment and commitment to massage therapy and bodywork.

Investment and commitment will help you to create a legacy to leave to the profession of massage therapy. Remember this is your journey, but sometimes you might need a road map, so here are a few suggestions:

  • Involve yourself in taking continuing education
  • Find a mentor who can help you see the forest through the trees
  • Involve yourself in your state chapter – join a committee
  • Look at how you can further massage in your community or in your state
  • Make a five year plan – look at your life as a journey and plan your route.

Ask yourself, why am I in this profession? What can I do to further the profession?

  • Start small – you do not have to be President tomorrow, either in your state chapter or for the National Board.
  • Do you want to teach? Look into the standards for teaching from the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. AFMTE.org
  • Take courses that will prepare you to teach.
  • Surround yourself with individuals who are visionary.
  • Link yourself to a school that supports standards, provides CE hours, and supports graduates.
  • Reach out and meet your peers. These are people of like minds.
  • Research massage – The Massage Therapy Foundation has provided us with the mechanisms of research. Another wonderful organization to investigate!
  • Write – the Alliance has many members who are authors and publishers attend our conferences. Authors are giving. There are many present here!
  • Present about massage.
  • Get massage yourself.
  • Attend ethics classes and share your experiences with peers.
  • Remember self-care and prevent burn out.
  • Whatever you do, remember that massage therapy provides a social service that is unquestionably valuable to the human race. Be proud to be a massage therapist. This is a wonderful, satisfying career. Enjoy the ride and give back. Create your legacy and retain the value of practicing ethically!

Reprinted with permission from https://downeastschoolofmassage.net/recent_blogs/practicing-ethically

Our guest author today is Allissa Haines. She runs a massage practice and collaborative wellness center in Massachusetts. She partners with Michael Reynolds to create business and marketing resources for massage therapists like you at MassageBusinessBlueprint.com. Check out the Massage Business Blueprint podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or at the website.

massage business blueprint

There are a million different kinds of massage therapists. We work in spas and hospitals and do home visits. We wear jeans and scrubs and button-down shirts. We work with athletes, new moms, construction workers, babies, people with cancer, people with anxiety, and people who just think massage therapy feels great. But every single one of these massage therapists has one thing in common: they were all beginners once. And being a beginner can be scary as heck. Even if you're also feeling well-trained and excited!

If you're a student and preparing to start your new career in massage therapy, congrats! Allow me to offer you a little graduation gift: some solid advice that every massage new therapist should know before striking out on their own.

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Act like a pro. With everyone.

As you finish up school, treat every practice client and every treatment like a real-life professional situation. Even when you practice and work on friends and family, be a pro about it. This is important for three reasons: it’s good practice for you to get your routines and scripts smooth, it helps your friends and family see and respect you as a professional, and consistent professional behavior is the foundation for a great reputation.

Being super professional with your practice clients not only impresses them in the short term, but also impacts how they’ll think of you after you graduate. But what does it mean to show professionalism? What does this actually look like in practice?

  • Show up on time.
  • Have all your equipment and paperwork ready to go.
  • Practice proper hygiene.
  • Drape conservatively.
  • Maintain appropriate boundaries while in the role of massage therapist. (Even when your friend wants to gossip or your mom makes a joke about cellulite.)
  • Stay within your scope of practice and don’t make any wild claims about what massage can do.
  • Maintain client confidentiality.

Does this mean that you can’t be yourself? Of course not! You don’t have to wear a suit or talk like a robot to be professional. The idea is not to be somebody else. The goal is to be the most respectful, clean, and reliable version of you. Be your best business self, even when your client is Grandma or Aunt Kim or your bestie from middle school.

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Know the most common massage complaints

Do you know the number one complaint people make about their massage therapist? “She talked too much.”

When you start up and you’re excited to be meeting people and working, it’s easy to slip into ‘chatty’ mode with clients. Resist! Resist the temptation to give longer answers and be super friendly during a massage, even if your clients are chatty themselves. You’ll likely get the same batch of questions with each new client:

  • Where did you go to school?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What did you do before this?

Be mindful that some people will ask questions because they are a little nervous or because they don’t know it’s okay to not talk.

Fight the urge to initiate any unnecessary conversation and give the shortest possible answers when answering a direct question. It’s even okay to say, “It’s so tempting to use this time to chat, but you’ll get a better massage if I don’t talk and we focus on you!”

The second most common complaint? “She didn’t get to the areas that needed work.”

It’s amazing how many experienced massage therapists end up with a poor reputation simply because they give the massage they want, rather than the one the client has asked for. Luckily, this is an easy situation to avoid.

Be sure to listen very carefully to what the client asks for before their massage, and then repeat it back to them with your plan for the massage to get their approval.

Here’s an example: In your verbal intake before the massage, a client rubs their right shoulder and says, “My shoulder is sore and I’m just all-around tired.”

To be sure you are address what they need, you’ll want to clarify the details and present your plan. It may sound like, “Ok, we can address your whole body and spend some extra time on your shoulder as well. It’s your right shoulder? Can you show me where exactly you’re feeling pain?”

Whenever appropriate, address that primary issue first and check in with the client before you move on. Ask, “How is this shoulder feeling? Is there anything you would like me to go back to?”

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Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know

You’re a massage therapist. Not a pharmacist, physical therapist, or herbalist. You’re a massage therapist. You can’t possibly know all the things right out of school. (Or ever.) You will never know all the answers to all the things right off the top of your head.

So when you are reading an intake form and it lists a medication or health issue you’ve never heard of, get more information. Admit openly, “I’ve never worked with a client with joint hypermobility issues. What factors do I need to be extra mindful of?”

Once you’ve talked it through with the client, let them know you’re going to take a minute to look it up before you begin the treatment as they are getting on the table. Most clients won’t mind spending an extra few minutes getting cozy on the table before their massage, especially when you are using that time to craft a safe and effective session just for them.

If your client asks you for a technique you don’t know how to do (or aren’t sure is safe), let them know you’ll find out more and get back to them before their next appointment – and follow through. Showing commitment to improvement means your clients can look forward to a better massage each and every time they see you.

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Choose the right products.

I tried so many different massage creams and lotions and oils my first few years as a massage therapist. I slipped and slid with greasy formulations. I itched from additives and scents and over-laundered stained linens. I worried about clients with nut allergies and read labels like a new scholar.

Then I found jojoba.

I can use jojoba for light massage on very fragile skin and also for deep work that requires grip and traction. A very small amount goes a long way, so I use much less than with other products.

Jojoba is safe for clients with allergies and safe for me. I realized early on that my body is soaking up my product for more than 20 hours a week. I wanted to feel good about what is and isn’t in the product and jojoba fits that criteria.

It’s a resilient product that can tolerate heating, cooling, and reheating. Jojoba won’t oxidize or go rancid and doesn’t require refrigeration. And it won’t stain your 100% cotton sheets, so you’ll save a ton on linens long-term.

It’s hard to find a product that is just right for every massage client and every treatment, but I think jojoba comes close.

And on the rare occasion when Jojoba isn’t the best solution and a client absolutely needs a cream or lotion, I turn to PurePro, (whose owner told me about Jojoba when I was first learning about all this!).

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Your reaction matters more than the glitch.

Draping issues will happen. Fix it quickly and move along. You will trip and make a loud noise during a deep relaxation treatment. If the client obviously notices quietly say, “Sorry about that,” and move on.

You will double book or accidentally no-show for an appointment because your calendar freaked out. Apologize, schedule a makeup treatment at no charge and move on.

Dumb things will inevitably occur in your business. You will make mistakes. If you are graceful in handling glitches, if they are rare glitches, and you make a real effort to prevent them moving forward, people will forgive you and respect you.

You got this.

Massage therapy can be an amazing career. Take all your education, your enthusiasm, and your passion for learning, and dive in. Everyone is nervous at first, but know that you're not the first beginner on the planet. Take a deep breath and know that you have what it takes. Welcome to the world of massage!

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The Jojoba esters is an excellent bodywork tool (multiple treatment modalities) as well as at home for my skin. I've even used it to mix with essential oils and given it as a gift.

Jonna Climie

The very best thing about jojoba is that is does not become rancid and aids in the integrity of essential oils.

helen Schultz

I just want to let you know how much I love your Jojoba. I have been using it for about 10 years now, after seeing it at a massage convention. One year I decided to go cheaper and found my sheets smelling rancid and after throwing them out decided I'd never do that again.

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I threw away all of the other goopey hair gels.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have had the pleasure of working with your excellent Jojoba for 11 years as a massage therapist and also for personal use. I have occasionally tried other highly regarded massage oils and lotions over the years but always come back to your product. It is simply the best!

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