How Body Awareness can Prevent Burnout

In early days of intelligence research, IQ was the all-important number. Later, researchers such as Daniel Goleman added social and emotional components to human development. Today, interoception is gaining recognition as a new form of intelligence that may help individuals offset the intensity of modern life. What is interoception? How does it work in the body? And how can improving interoception fight burnout? Answering these questions can help us appreciate the importance of receiving regular massage.

What is Interoception?
Interoception is awareness of the body’s internal state. Interoception receptors relay internal body information to the brain. Sometimes called the 8th sense (after the 6th sense of proprioception and the 7th sense of vestibular awareness), interoception helps us understand important messages from within our bodies—such as when we need to eat or use the restroom. Likewise, when we speak of a racing heart or sweating bullets, we are expressing interoceptive intelligence.

While proprioception was initially thought to be limited to the organs, we now know it also applies to the body in movement. Recent research reveals that interoceptive sensors are also present in the musculoskeletal system, primarily in fascia. Proprioception sensors in fascia tell the brain what is happening in muscles and joints.

What’s even more fascinating is that proprioception sensors relay affective information as well. As Thomas Myers recently wrote for Massage Magazine, proprioceptive sensors connect to the brain’s circuitry for processing emotions. In other words, proprioception helps you understand not only what is happening in the body, but also how you feel about it. For more on the affective aspect of interoception, particularly touch, check out our post from last month on Touch and Human Development.

How can Interoception Prevent Burnout?
Interoception is the body’s primary wisdom for understanding when we are out of balance. For instance, shallow, fast breathing may indicate stress. A fast heart rate may indicate anxiety, as may the sensation of butterflies in the stomach. Therapists and their clients can focus on interoception to improve their self-awareness, which in turn can improve their capacity for self-care.

LMTs benefit from boosting their own interoception, not only to understand their client’s needs, but also to avoid burnout. Let’s review how LMTs can enjoy rich careers in massage therapy by encouraging interoception in their clients while also heeding interoceptive messages from their own body, to prevent burnout.

Interoception and Massage
Helping Massage Clients Improve Proprioception
Internal awareness helps us notice important cues for self-care. At first, tuning into one’s thoughts, emotions, and internal sensations can be overwhelming. Mindfulness techniques that emphasize non-judgement can help clients successfully notice interoceptive information without becoming beleaguered by it. Here are a couple strategies to share with clients:

  1. Encourage Body Literacy with Questions. During massage, ask clients to provide feedback. Questions such as, “Is this too much pressure here?” or “Can you tell me when you feel that area loosening up?” can be a natural way for therapists to help clients improve their interoception. For more questions to ask during, before, and after massage, read our post “Customizing Massage: Questions to Ask to Improve Client Comfort.”
  2. Recommend Take-Home Stretches and Breathing Exercises. After each massage, take a couple of minutes to recommend stretching techniques for clients. Share how to stretch the area while harnessing breathing techniques for awareness. For instance, once in a stretch, clients can practice breathing into the tight area on each inhalation, and relaxing that area with each exhalation. Emphasize maintaining a neutral, non-judgmental mindset while practicing these take-home interoception exercises.

Using Proprioception to Prevent LMT Burnout
Regularly practice internal awareness with a non-judgmental perspective. This can help you become aware of the physical and emotional components of your experience, so that you can direct loving attention to areas that need help, rather than avoiding or endlessly worrying about sensations. The more you practice mindful interoceptive awareness, the better equipped you will be to teach clients.

The following mindfulness techniques harness interoception to improve therapist self-care.
Breath Meditation. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Notice the coolness of each incoming breath, and the warmth of outgoing breath. Using your interoception wisdom to follow your breath will help you feel calm and focused.

Body Scanning. With your eyes closed, focus on sensations in each part of your body. Honor interoceptive information by responding with self-care. For instance, if you notice tension in a certain muscle, practice relaxing that area with each exhalation.

Setting aside a few minutes for interoception before each massage session is an excellent idea for self-care. Doing so can allow therapists to release worrisome moments from earlier sessions, while also preparing to provide exceptional care for upcoming clients. Finally, noticing your own internal experience can empower you to make smart choices about when to take breaks.

Yoga, tai chi, and walking in nature are additional practices that improve interoception.

Interoception is an important aspect of massage therapist schooling. To appreciate how a certain manual therapy technique is working for a client, a therapist must be able to read signals from her or his own body. The best massage school programs include education on how to help clients improve internal awareness. For licensed massage therapists in the Portland area, East West College’s Continuing Education massage therapy courses provide numerous opportunities for therapists to improve their interoception skills.


  1. Luchau, T. Mindfulness, Myofascia, and Manual Therapy. Massage and Bodywork. 2017 Jul/Aug.
  2. Myers T. What am I Feeling? Recent research on Interoceptive Sensors of the Myofascia. Massage Magazine. 2018 Dec.
  3. Price C. Interoceptive Awareness can Help you Fight Burnout. Massage Magazine. 2018 Dec.
  4. Price C. Interoceptive Awareness Helps your Clients Help Themselves. Massage Magazine. Oct 2016.


Customizing Massage: Questions to Ask to Improve Client Comfort

When dreaming of how to become a massage therapist, a person might think of all the incredible healing techniques they’ll learn at massage therapy school. However, a high-quality school of massage must also teach therapists how to communicate with clients before, during, and after the massage. Asking the right questions can help create a customized healing experience that clients won’t soon forget.

Here are a few questions students at our school of massage are trained to ask to optimize each client’s massage session:

1. Do you prefer lotion or oil?
Each emollient provides a different viscosity for delivering massage strokes. However, it is also very different from the client’s side—lotion makes some people feel slippery or cold, while others complain about the greasiness of oil. It never hurts to ask; you might be surprised how many people have a preference about receiving massage with lotion or oil. Even a seemingly small question about emollients can show clients how well attuned you are to their needs. And if you remember their preference for the next session, they’ll probably be impressed!

  1. Would you like a bolster under their knees/ankles?
    Again, it comes down to client comfort. In a supine position, Some people feel more relaxed with a bolster under their knees. Similarly, a bolster under the ankles in a prone position can help relieve pressure on the tops of the feet. However, not all clients enjoy bolsters, so a savvy massage therapist will ask.
  2. May I use warm and/or cold packs during the massage today?
    Hot packs can help warm up and prepare muscles, so they’re easier to massage. Cold packs can feel refreshing for tired muscles. Temperature is a very personal experience, so clients will appreciate your asking about which therapy tools to use.
  3. How’s the lighting? Is it too bright/dark?
    Some clients will be more light-sensitive than others. Those who experience migraines, for instance, may have a hard time relaxing under bright lights. To score beaucoup brownie points with light sensitive clients, consider offering an eye pillow. This small pillow filled with flax seeds or buckwheat will promote relaxation by encouraging stillness in the eyes, while also blocking out excess light.
  4. What about the temperature? Are you feeling chilly or too hot?
    Something as simple as an extra blanket can help chilly clients relax, while turning on a fan can help toasty clients feel more comfortable.
  5. Is this pressure okay? Would you like more or less?
    This final question is worth asking multiple times during a massage. Different areas of the body will have different sensitivity levels, so it’s smart to notice body language cues while also asking clients outright if the pressure feels right.

East West College students have the chance to practice asking clients these and other questions through the EWC massage clinic. While such considerations are included in every massage class, our on-site clinic provides an invaluable opportunity to test-drive these client experience boosts. To experience a customized massage for yourself, schedule a massage at our clinic through And if you’re dreaming about going to massage school yourself, get in touch with our school of massage Admissions Department.

Beat the Heat with Cooling Massage Products from the East West College Store

There’s more than high-quality education at our massage school. Portland, OR massage therapists can also purchase high-quality massage products at the East West Campus Store. The East West Campus store is the regional source for all things massage therapy, including massage products to beat the heat. As Portland bakes under the hot summer sun, massage therapists can offer clients delightfully cool variations on massage oil, gel, and lotion. Cooling eye masks and therapy packs offer another way to tame the summer heat.

While cool products are naturally appealing in the hot months, cold therapy—or “cryotherapy”—is effective all year long. Think ice packs, ice baths, and cold packs. This approach is nothing new; Egyptians were using cold to minimize inflammation more than 4,000 years ago. Hippocrates wrote about using cold to treat painful swelling in 400 BCE. And in 1050 CE, Anglo-Saxon monks started using cold to combat pain. Read on to discover cooling products to incorporate in your next massage. Portland, OR therapists can find these items on the shelves of the East West Campus Store.

Cooling Massage Products at the East West Campus Store

Biofreeze Gel, Roll-On, and Spray
For 25 years, therapists have trusted Biofreeze as a trusted topical analgesic. It uses menthol to naturally soothe minor joint and muscle pain. This delightful cold therapy product penetrates quickly. As graduates of a COMTA-accredited school of massage, Portland’s East West College alums appreciate that Biofreeze researches its products. The science behind this reliable product has to do with how the body communicates pain. The menthol in Biofreeze binds with the skin’s temperature receptors, overriding pain signals. We carry both Biofreeze and Biofreeze Professional products, which are exclusive to healthcare professionals. These products are paraben-free, with a vanishing scent. We carry Biofreeze Gel, Biofreeze Professional Roll-On, and Biofreeze Professional Continuous Spray.


Eye-ssential Mask by Thera-Pearl
The Eye-ssential mask features pliable gel pearls that allow the mask to conform to the body, even when frozen. This unique eye mask may be used for both hot and cold therapy. The pack changes color to indicate readiness! To heat, microwave for 10-15 seconds, until pack is white in color. For cold therapy, freeze for at least two hours, until the pack turns purple. Use the cold mask for sinus headaches, nasal congestion, and dry, puffy eyes. Light-sensitive clients will adore this pack while supine.

eye mask

Sombra Cool Therapy Pain Relieving Gel
Sombra is another cooling massage product for relieving joint and muscle pain associated with bruises, strains, and sprains. Therapists value the efficacy of this product, as well as its refreshing citrus aroma. It contains no artificial colors, fragrances, or alcohol. Sombra is animal-free and made in the USA. Don’t worry about staining clothes or sheets with Sombra—it absorbs quickly. Finally, Sombra offers excellent glide for point therapy. It is great for inflammation and post-workout pain relief. Many massage therapists use Sombra Cool Therapy Pain Relieving Gel for sports massage clients. Laura Boozer, LMT, Owner of N-Touch Therapeutic Massage, says “Sombra pain relieving gels provide multi-sport athletes long lasting relief from muscle fatigue and soreness.”


Soft Comfort CorPak by Core Productscorpak
The Soft Comfort CorPack may be used hot or cold. Its exterior is a blend of synthetic fibers and organic plant materials that are frost-free when frozen, so no towel is required. This product is long-lasting, yet eco-friendly. It is filled with non-toxic, bio-degradable materials. For cold use, freeze the CorPack for at least 1 hour, or simply store in the freezer. To heat: microwave for 30 seconds on high, and then additional increments of ten seconds until preferred temperature is achieved. Knead the pack after heating. This tri-sectional pack is perfect for draping over clients’ shoulders; a third section covers the back of the neck.



Keep your massage practice fresh by incorporating seasonal products. Clients will feel pampered by your thoughtful product choices. Boost client loyalty today—visit the East West Campus Store for all your massage therapy needs. Our Portland massage products store is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 6:30pm. It is located on NE Oregon Street, between Fifth and Sixth street, directly off the trolley line. For questions about current products and prices, please call us at 503-233-6500.

Senior Massage: Why and How

senior getting a massageMassage careers come many shapes and sizes, but all massage therapists have one thing in common: compassion. Therapists are healers first and foremost, and an empathetic heart is a prerequisite for this kind of work. In our youth-centric culture it is easy to overlook seniors, a population that definitely needs massage. After a lifetime of work, many seniors are better able to afford massage. Portland therapists who choose to work with seniors will find this work to be enriching personally and professionally. Let’s take a look at the many benefits of massage for seniors. Later, we’ll look at a couple things you can do to cater your massage practice to a more mature population.

Benefits of Massage for Seniors
Improved circulation and flexibility through massage are major benefits for seniors who receive massage. Moreover, massage can help soothe the symptoms of many geriatric chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and COPD, according to Ann Caitlin, OTR, LMT, occupational and massage therapist in eldercare. Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways that massage therapy can benefit seniors.

Chronic Pain. As the American Massage Therapy Association highlights, massage therapy has been shown to successfully treat chronic pain, particularly in the joints.

Suffer Fewer Falls.
Massage therapy can improve balance and posture, as Jo Ellen Sefton, Director of the Neuromechanics Research Laboratory at Auburn University, points out. According to Sefton, research “suggests that regular massage may produce physiological changes that contribute to improved balance and postural control. This may be a way to decrease falls in older adults.”

Osteoarthritis. A massage study conducted in Washington found that 57% of those diagnosed with Osteoarthritis have used massage therapy in the last five months, surpassing those who turned to chiropractic care (21%) and supplements and over-the-counter medications (17%). Another study conducted by Perlman et al. found that Osteoarthritis sufferers who received massage enjoyed a 23 point improvement in pain, 21 point improvement for stiffness, and 20.5 point improvement in physical function.

Offset Dementia. As in many areas of study, research on massage for dementia is limited to small sample sizes and too few control groups. Still, the studies that have been conducted on massage for dementia suggest that massage can help reduce verbal aggression as well as agitated behaviors.

Overall, massage therapy can improve quality of life for seniors. It’s no wonder, then, that 74% of hospices employ massage therapists.

Tips for Massage Therapists who Want to Cater to Seniors
First off, if you’re thinking of tailoring your massage therapy practice for senior clients, we must congratulate you on your savvy business sense. As the elderly comprise a large portion of the population, you will likely find plenty of demand for your senior-centric massage services. From a sheer numbers perspective, the Baby Boomers are impressive. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that the number of US residents over 65 years of age will double, from 35 million to 71 million, by the year 2030. That means a steady stream of potential massage clients for the next decade.

Selena Belisle, instructor and senior massage educator at the CE Institute, recommends the following adjustments for providing massage therapy for seniors:

  • Choose Top-Shelf Moisturizers. As skin ages it can become thin, itchy, and wrinkled. Your senior clients will appreciate high-quality moisturizers, such as those that include shea butter and organic ingredients. Your work will moisturize the areas where seniors cannot reach, such as their backs.
  • Offer Multiple Massage Positions. Getting onto the massage table may not be easy for some seniors. What’s more, staying on the table for more than 30 minutes may not be comfortable. Therefore, communicate with your senior clients about what is working during the session, and slow down the process of preparing for the massage. You may offer seated massage instead, for instance. It is wise to offer assistance in getting on the table. Gather clients’ eyewear before ending the session, and ensure that your massage room is well lit and easy to navigate.
  • Individualize Treatment. This should go without saying, but it is especially applicable to seniors. This population may see massage as a lower-cost option for non-emergency health concerns, such as loss of range of motion. Belisle explains, “My geriatric clients understand the value of having the same therapist work on them repeatedly. We can see when a joint has lost range of motion and work on that loss.” Remember that each senior client will have his or her own concerns, and that you can earn more consistent bookings by carefully tuning into the needs and concerns of the person in front of you.
  • Stay Sharp with Ongoing Education. Senior-focused massage therapy education zooms in on marketing to nursing homes and extended care facilities; medication/massage interactions; massaging wheelchair- and bed-bound patients; and medical conditions common among seniors, such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke. Recognize that the more time you invest in educating yourself on senior massage, the more senior clients will respond to your treatments.

For more tips on working with elderly clients, check out our post “Client Populations: Working with Elderly Patients.” We also recommend that you stay in-the-know about East West College’s continuing education offerings.

An ever-rotating cornucopia of learning opportunities await for you at our Portland continuing massage education site. Currently, our “Introduction to Bowenwork” class would be ideal for anyone looking to enrich their massage practice for all ages, including seniors. Our Portland massage therapy school also offers in-depth ongoing education on specific anatomical areas, such as the hips or the ribs; this sort of knowledge will benefit your work with clients of all ages.

Cammie Toloui

Cammie TolouiWill you please introduce yourself?

I’m Cammie Toloui. I’ve been a photographer for most of my life, doing work for publications and shooting weddings, family portraits and events. Around the time I was turning 40, I decided I needed a change and I chose to study massage. I graduated from East West from the 801-hour program in 2010 and immediately started working in the clinic at school and did that (in addition to starting my own practice) for about a year. I rented a room with one of my former classmates and built up my business for about 2 years and then my life changed radically! My son went off to college and I went on a trip to England to do some street photography, which is when I met the man who eventually became my husband. So I moved to a small town in southeast England and had to figure out how to start my business up again in a foreign country.

What drew you to massage therapy?

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do besides photography, I took a class designed for women of a certain age who were thinking of re-entering the workplace after kids. One of the exercises was to make a list of all the things I like and find interesting and want to learn more about. I made my list and then narrowed it down until it was distilled into this one very exciting-sounding profession: Village Witch. I figured that massage might be a good entry-level position on my way to becoming the village witch, so I looked into what was available in Portland and found East West College. After the intro day, I knew I had found the next phase of my life and that massage would be a perfect fit for me. I’m still not the village witch, but I’m very happy to be helping people to feel better through therapeutic massage.

Why did you select East West College?

I could tell that East West had very high standards and was well organized. I had gone to another school for their intro day and to me they seemed less professional and the intro day at East West was compelling, fun and helped me decide to follow the path to being a therapist.

Since graduation what has been your biggest professional challenge? How were you able to overcome it?

Currently my biggest challenge is marketing, especially on social media. I’m told it’s what I should be doing, but I feel that the personal nature of finding a massage therapist isn’t a great fit for social media. I find most people want to find a therapist recommended by a friend. That is at least true here in England. To encourage this, I tell my clients that for every person they send to me for a massage, they get £10 off their next massage. This turns out to be an effective motivator and it’s how I get most of my new clients.

The other big challenge is the number of clients I’m able to see in a day or a week. When I first started out I would schedule 4 or 5 clients in a day and would sometimes see 20 in a week. That ended up being way too many for what my body was able to handle. But I had a son and rent and all those things and had to work as hard as I could.

These days I see a maximum of three clients a day, but not on consecutive days because I need time to recover my energy. It makes me wonder – how I will sustain this as I head into my 50th year on this planet? How many more years do I have as a massage therapist and what do I do once I can’t sustain it anymore? I don’t have retirement savings. Maybe I need to start thinking about retraining to learn something else? Big questions that I haven’t figured out yet…

Since graduation what is the best part of your professional career?

Without question the best part is watching people walk out the door feeling 10 times better than when they walked in. To be able to make people feel better is like having a superpower!

What words of advice would you give future students at East West College?

Don’t undervalue yourself by lowering your prices to substandard rates.

Don’t work yourself to the point of pain and injury – figure out what you’re comfortable with and then get a job doing something else on alternate days if you need to so you don’t burn out.

Take your time and let your hands find their way around the client’s body to assess what’s needed – don’t just do your massage routine, giving a one-size-fits-all massage to every client. I know you probably don’t think you will, but after a while that can start to happen.

Interview With Alumni Kevin Faris

Will you please introduce yourself?Kevin Feris

My name is Kevin Faris I graduated from East West in October 2013

What drew you to massage therapy?

The Thing that drew me to massage was an old construction injury. I had some treatments and it was the most helpful thing.

Why did you select East West College?

I found East West by chance. I was searching good massage schools around the area and I knew some LMT’s and they said East West is the best.

Since graduation what has been your biggest professional challenge? How were you able to overcome it?

Since I have graduated from school my biggest professional challenge has been grounding. The way I have overcome it is by breathing exercises and stretching before each client and also making sure I eat enough food.

What words of advice would you give future students at East West College?

Some words of advice: while in school study everything that you can, ask as many questions as you can, and work on as many people as you can, and last but not least ask yourself how can you get better and what purpose it holds. For this reason you will succeed further in your career.

Alumni Interview Mary Tindall

Will you please introduce yourself?

I’m Mary. I’m an aerial silks instructor and massage therapist. I know the importance of regular bodywork to help with repetitive stress, as well as the everyday stressors of life.

What drew you to massage therapy?

The idea of working and connecting with people one on one really drew me in. Being able to help people live their lives with less pain.

Why did you select East West College?

I loved that it’s on the east side of the river. I walked in one day to check it out and get a tour, Erika was so friendly and I could tell it was a great school. I love the flexibility they offer for people’s schedules with classes, I was a night student.

Since graduation what has been your biggest professional challenge? How were you able to overcome it?

Finding the right balance of work, play, and the pursuit of regular bodywork! My first two years I wasn’t getting enough massages myself which was not helpful for my career. Now that I’m in my third year of doing this I’ve been making sure to get a massage at least once a month. It makes a tremendous difference in my mental and physical health and vitality.

Since graduation what is the best part of your professional career?

When I get to connect with clients on a deep level and nurture the therapeutic relationship, it’s truly a beautiful thing! It reminds me why I love doing this so much. There is always more to learn in this line of work which keeps me stimulated and fulfilled.

What words of advice would you give future students at East West College?

Enjoy the program while you’re in it, before you know it it’ll be over! Set a self care routine for yourself and stick with it. Be sure to incorporate some sort of playful activity to keep your inner child alive. Good self care is one of the secrets to longevity!

Alum Interview — Vanessa Shumate

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Vanessa Shumate, I was born and raised on a farm outside of Eugene Oregon. With constant manual labor in order to maintain the farm I found giving and receiving massage and body work to be vital in sustaining this lifestyle.

What drew you to massage therapy?

After years of interest in massage therapy, I started realizing how passionate I was about the intricate web that makes up the human body and the steps we can take to support our highest levels of functioning.

Why did you select East West College?

I was drawn to East West College due to the supportive community and greater level of training than required. One of the greatest challenges as an LMT is creating a sustainable successful business and East West College goes above and beyond to provide the resources and support that is needed to begin a career.

Since graduation what has been your biggest professional challenge? And how were you able to overcome it?

One of the greatest challenges as an LMT is creating a sustainable successful business and East West College goes above and beyond to provide the resources and support that is needed to begin a career.

Since graduation what is the best part of your professional career?

I am grateful for the opportunity to work at Our Massage Clinic at East West. Upon graduating I was overwhelmed with all the different avenues, the clinic has been a wonderful place to gain confidence and find direction before entering the vast world of massage. Throughout my time at East West I have found each treatment experience to be unique and full of lessons to carry with me in my practice. Massage therapy so far has surpassed my expectations as a rewarding career and I only look forward to the ability to grow and contribute what I learn to my community.






Massage & Self-Care: Marketing the Necessity of De-Stressing during the Holiday Season

Holiday stress: It’s so ubiquitous, it’s practically cliché. Yet few people actually fit in an extra wintertime massage or day at the spa. How can Portland massage therapists come to the rescue? By effectively marketing their offerings during this darkest, and often busiest, part of the year.

We all know that the holidays are a time of stress. Consider a Healthline study which found that 56% of Gen X-ers, 61% of millennials, and 62% of Baby Boomers feel stress during the holidays.

Yet few people actually set aside time to destress. The 2016 American Time Use Study found that, on average, a woman with children spends just 11 minutes per day on self-care activities such as exercise or recreation. Married men spend just 15 minutes per day on such self-care. The bottom line? Americans aren’t prioritizing self-care. And we’re betting that tendency is exacerbated during the holiday season. Yet this “most wonderful” (read: busiest) time of the year is exactly when we most need self-care to help us deal with skyrocketing stress levels.

Massage: An Enjoyable Antidote to Holiday Stress
Is massage a luxury? Or self-indulgent? Absolutely not! Holiday stress can rob us of sleep, increase our blood pressure, and leave our hearts and minds racing. Not to mention the nosedive our best dietary intentions take at this time of year! With all these stressors, our minds and bodies are not operating optimally. Massage battles stress in multiple ways, allowing us to better enjoy the holidays while cruising through the season’s challenges.

How Massage Helps Offset Stress

Feel-Good Hormones. During this time of the year, many people slack on their exercise routines. Who feels like working out when it’s dark and icy outside? Massage can help! Massage produces many of the same soothing “happy chemicals” one gets from a good run, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Improved Sleep. Indulgent parties, crammed schedules, holiday change to routines: It all makes regular sleep challenging. Again, massage to the rescue! As the AMTA reports, multiple studies suggest that regular massage improves sleep. Consistent ZZZs can help zap holiday stress, as well as seasonal anxiety and depression.

Soothe the Sympathetic Nervous System. From a medical perspective, stress is “up-regulation,” when the body turns on the fight/fight/freeze response in the face of external stimuli. Up-regulation is performed by the sympathetic nervous system. We experience stress when the body is “stuck” in a sympathetic response. The other half of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic side—its job is to help release the stress of upregulation. As discussed in Massage Magazine, massage helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, turning off the fight/flight/freeze response and helping the recipient feel less stressed.

Target Acupressure Points. Reflexology, Tui Na, and other styles of Eastern-influenced massage therapy increase energy by alleviating blockages along energy lines, or meridians. By focusing on acupressure points throughout the body, massage therapists can decrease stress. A 2013 study from Georgetown University found acupuncture to be an effective way to fight stress; acupressure uses the same energetic principals without requiring needles.

Holiday Marketing Tips for Therapists

Fight the good fight against holiday stress! Entice clients to your door with these marketing approaches.

  1. Say “Thank You” (and “Hello” to new customers) with Gift Certificates. Acknowledge your most loyal clients by giving them each a complimentary massage gift certificate. Here’s the catch: They must spread the joy of the season by passing on the certificate to a friend. It’s a win-win for massage careers and massage-seekers alike: You get a new referral, your customers feel appreciated, and new clients find your exceptional services.If full gift certificates are too much, offer your clients free add-on treatments, such as an extra 10 minutes of massage, or aromatherapy. Sending hand-written holiday cards to your top 25 clients, and emailing 50 more clients, is another excellent way to celebrate your success while growing customer loyalty. Throw in a New Year’s special and watch your appointment book fill.
  2. Use Social Media to Inform and Entice. Twitter, Facebook, and your blogging platform are excellent tools for connecting with holiday customers, but the “hard sale” rarely works. Certainly, posting your holiday specials is wise—but this sort of promotional material should make up no more than 20% of your overall social media content. With these messages, include a call to action, such as “Give the Gift of Health! Purchase one gift certificate and get a massage for yourself at half off.” Throw in a link to your online store. The other 80% of your messages should be conversational in tone. For instance, you can post tips for holiday self-care, such as this article from Psychology Today, and ask how your followers are committing to their own health this holiday season. As the conversation unfolds, you will likely have an opportunity to mention your services.
  3. Promote Gift Cards Early and Often. Portland massage therapy gift cards make great gifts, particularly when they are for individual therapists. For would-be massage recipients, a massage gift card is more than an enjoyable present: It’s also a time-saver, since they don’t have to spend weeks searching for a talented therapist. For dazzling holiday season sales, start early: Set up events for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Place gift card displays in your practice space. Have your online store setup by September. Plan ahead for the best results.

Of course, Portland massage therapists are just as susceptible to holiday stress as everyone else. So to conclude, we’d like to encourage all our alumni and students to set aside time for themselves this holiday season. Arrange a trade or set up an appointment in our Portland massage clinic. Just as an hour of blissful body work can help your clients sail through the season, so can massage help you maximize your appreciation of the wonder of the holidays.

Staff Profile: Robyn Baehler, Alumni Services Coordinator and Sports Massage Therapist at the Track & Field Olympic Trials

A massage therapist career can take you in whatever direction you wish. For East West College grad Robyn Baehler, sports massage therapy specialization lead her to treat athletes at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene this past July. Now, Robyn is also working in our Oregon massage school as our Alumni Services Coordinator and has a chance to help tomorrow’s LMTs find work after graduation. Today we’re delighted to share the story of Robyn’s connection to the massage world and working with athletes, including how she ended up providing massage to world-class running stars. Robyn also provides insight into how a budding massage therapist can steer her or his massage therapist career toward treating athletes at national and international competitions.Robyn Baehler is a sports massage therapist and Alumni Services Coordinator for East West College

As a high school student, Robyn ran around Coos Bay, her hometown. She explains that running is “in her blood.” Today, she considers herself an avid runner; indeed, she has competed in running for the past 25 years. Since 2001 she has also coached track. So it’s no wonder that, after completing East West College’s 800-hour massage therapy program, Robyn decided to specialize in treating track athletes.

Providing Sports Massage Therapy at the 2016 US Olympics Track & Field TrialsEast West College alum Robyn Baehler, a sports massage therapist for the 2016 Track and Field Olympic Trials

Robyn calls working at the trials “special,” and “an honor,” explaining that she has “always looked up to the athletes who, with hard work and dedication, realize their dream to represent the USA.” For her, working on Olympic trial track and field athletes is a “win-win”—she gets to use her massage skills in an incredible atmosphere of competition and camaraderie.

Kicking of A Sports Massage Therapist Career at East West College

After twelve years in the corporate world, working for companies such as Nike, Robyn decided to go back to school to become a massage therapist. She chose a career in massage therapy because she wanted others to feel the same benefits of healing, preventative care, and rehabilitation that she herself enjoyed through regular massage. Robyn explains, “EWC provided me with a great foundation for treatment-based massage.”

Specializing in Sports Massage Therapy

To track her career toward sports massage therapy, Robyn has “worked as a volunteer at sports events; taken sports massage specific CE classes; and worked in a chiropractic office where athletes (from recreational to professional) would come in.” She explains that these activities helped her gain experience. They also allowed her to make an informed decision to move forward on the path toward sports massage.

Sports Massage Benefits for Athletes

In her work with track athletes, Robyn has observed the following benefits of regular sports massage:

  • Warming up. Faster strokes will help get blood moving, preparing muscles for performance.
  • Cooling down. Slower strokes, stretching, and flushing techniques can help athletes enjoy faster recovery from competition.
  • Manage Soreness and Stiffness. Multiple competitions over several days can leave athletes’ bodies tight and sore. Massage can soothe tense, tender muscles.
  • De-Stress. Athletes must deal with travel, strenuous workouts, and intense competition; massage helps them de-stress so that they can perform at their best.
  • Facilitate Healing. Massage can help with pain management and healing for any injuries that may occur during competition. Finally, Robyn emphasizes that the track athletes she treated benefitted from the collaborative care model at the trials. She worked with an international sports medicine group that included physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, and chiropractors.

Serving Tomorrow’s Sports Massage Therapists

In her role as Alumni Services Coordinator, Robyn helps EWC grads navigate the post-graduation world. She advises hopeful sports massage therapists to get experience through volunteer and professional sports massage work. With some sports massage training, therapists can work at sports events, which are excellent for networking. Robyn also recommends learning how to work with tools (cupping, fascial adhesion tools, etc.), which many athletes prefer. Having multiple massage modalities is also popular with athletes.

We are thrilled to have Robyn on the East West College team!