The Benefits of Indian Head Massage

There are many reasons why people turn to massage therapy. The manual manipulation, by rubbing or kneading, of our muscles and other soft tissues works wonders for reducing stress, relieving pain, eliminating tension, and even aiding in curing various health ailments.

No matter where your aches and pains are or what they stem from, there isn’t a lot that a good massage can’t help with, even if it just brings temporary relief.

This range of health benefits is largely due to the hundreds of techniques and styles of massage therapy practiced today.

One such style is the Indian Head Massage; perfect for ridding you of that pesky tension headache, loosening up those stiff and achy shoulders, rebalancing your energies, and even aiding in giving you happier and healthier hair (and those are just some of the benefits of Indian Head Massage).

What is the Indian Head Massage?

Today, the Indian Head Massage is a technique involving acupressure in the upper back, shoulders, neck, and head.

The primary intent of this massage style is releasing muscle knots and tension in the upper body, encouraging better circulation of the cerebral fluid throughout the head, and promoting hair growth and healthy skin.

Where Did It Originate?

The Indian Head Massage is part of an ancient Hindu healthcare practice known as Ayurveda (from the Sanskrit words ayur meaning “life” and veda meaning “science” or “knowledge”). It originated in India over 1000 years ago. Ayurveda itself is thought to be over 3000 years old, and actually remains one of the country’s most common and traditional health care practices.

Initially invented by women, this particular style of massage was primarily used to enhance their scalp and hair health, and that of their daughters.

Often used in conjunction with various oils (such as almond, coconut, olive, and sesame – each providing a unique benefit), it was quickly realized that these techniques not only aided in keeping their locks luxurious, but also promoted good health in general and even helped enhance the body’s natural healing powers.

It became a common family tradition; mothers would massage the heads of their babies and as they grew into young children. As they got older, the children learned the techniques themselves in order to perform the head massage on their elder family members in return and eventually to pass down to their children, keeping the tradition alive from generation to generation.

Until recently, 1973 to be exact, this massage style was still confined to India, unknown to the rest of the world.

It was Indian native Narendra Mehta who blessed the world with this unique and traditional massage after he had moved from India to England to continue his education and was underwhelmed when he found no such massage type available in his new home.

This prompted him to return to India, study the traditional head massage he had missed so much, and return to England to offer this new service. The technique spread from England to the rest of the world quickly, and is common throughout most western civilizations today.

In fact, it was Mehta who transformed this technique from the scalp focused traditional massage seen hundreds of years ago in India to the holistic upper-body massage it is known as today.

What To Expect

To say that an Indian Head Massage will relax you is a severe understatement.

Not only does this type of message therapy put you into a serene state of mind, but it will leave you feeling as if a physical weight was lifted off your shoulders.

Mentally

Following the traditional Ayurvedic approach, an important aspect of this type of massage is to work on healing the balance of energies within your body.

The Indian Head Massage focuses on stimulating three specific chakras: the Chakras of the Throat, the Third Eye/Brow, and the Crown Chakra.

Rebalancing and healing these Chakras can have many positive affects on you psychologically and even spiritually.

You can expect to leave your appointment with restored senses of peace and tranquility, relieved of stress and worry you may have been carrying with you, and feeling generally more relaxed and at ease.

Physically

The Indian Head Massage differs slightly, from a physical standpoint, from most other types of massages available.

During this type of massage you should expect to be seated upright and you will remain clothed (unless you opt for a focus on your shoulders, in which case you can expect to wrap a towel around your torso).

The massage typically begins with pressure being applied in specific locations around your upper back and shoulders in order to remove any knots that may be present (known as acupressure) and reduce the tension in surrounding muscles. Your masseuse will then work their way up to your neck and finish by massaging the around the skull, usually with certain types of essential oils.

How an Indian Head Massage Benefit Will Benefit You

Aside from feeling amazing and being a great way to relax and shut the world out for an hour, there are actually many health benefits to booking yourself an Indian Head Massage.

  • Prevention of Headaches/Migraines and Back Pain

Tension and tightness in the upper back and neck is one of the most common culprits of headaches, migraines, and even back pain.

By targeting and loosening the knots and tight muscles in your upper body and encouraging better circulation of cerebrospinal fluid by massaging the neck and scalp, you can rid yourself of that tightness and pounding overtaking your day.

  • Relieve Insomnia and Improve Your Quality of Sleep

Indian Head Massages target both the physical and mental stress your body may be coping with, and aim to transport you into a calm state of deep relaxation.

Removing muscular discomfort, improving circulation of fluids throughout your brain, and promoting relaxation and enhanced senses helps your body’s healing abilities.

This rids your body of the stress that is preventing your brain from shutting down when you need to sleep, which in turn allows you to let your body fall into a restful state of relaxation once again.

  • Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Massaging the head aids in increasing and revitalizing the circulation of oxygen through your brain. Increasing the flow of oxygen to your brain helps regain the proper chemical balance needed to maintain a healthy mental state.

The Indian Head Massage will encourage higher oxygen flow to your brain, lifting your mood and effectively reducing a variety of both mental and physical symptoms caused by anxiety or depression.

  • Strengthens Memory

Too often, we let our brains become overloaded with thoughts, ideas, and feelings, usually being too busy to take a moment to breath and sort ourselves out. When we become too overloaded with information, we become incapable of properly categorizing and organizing these thoughts, which in turns hinders the efficiency of our memories.

The ways in which an Indian Head Massages help to rebalance our Chakras and strengthen our mental and sensual awareness is essentially a “reset” on our cluttered minds. This reset allows us to slow down and re-establish self-awareness, effectively revitalizing our memory.

  • Revives Energy Levels

Chakras are, in fact, commonly referred to as the bodies “energies”. By rebalancing your chakras, you are effectively rebalancing the energies within your body.

By combining this rebalancing of energies with the cleansing of your mental state and the relaxation of your physical body, you will feel a new type of energy throughout your body.

You will feel energetic, refreshed, stabilized, and ready to face the day.

  • Detoxifies Your Body

Through certain massage techniques used on the neck (specifically the lymph nodes), the Indian Head Massage can stimulate and improve lymphatic drainage and blood flow.

The lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste products, bacteria, and damaged cells from our body’s tissues. This makes it crucial to our immune system and our body’s healing capabilities.

By encouraging better circulation of our body’s lymph, we are increasing the efficiency and effectiveness by which our body rids itself of waste and harmful substances.

In turn, we will not only feel better on a day-to-day basis, but we will also target or prevent certain health problems (such as swelling of the face or limbs, production of cancer cells, etc.), as well as clearing and refocusing our minds (thanks to better oxygen circulation resulting from less toxins within our bodies). 

  • Promotes Healthy Skin and Hair

Massaging the scalp is proven to promote longer and healthier hair by encouraging better blood flow to the scalp.

This is the portion of the massage where adding essential oils into the routine has to most benefits. Different types of oils can have positive effects both on your skin and your hair.

For your skin, the best oils to use are Tea Tree Oil, Lemon Oil, and Chamomile Oil. Tea Tree Oil and Chamomile Oil both sooth the skin, which can work to cure a dry or itchy scalp. Lemon Oil is great for fighting dandruff.

For hair health, you want to use Castor Oil, Almond Oil, and Peppermint Oil. All of these oils promote hair growth through improved blood circulation.

What Are You Waiting For?

Whether you need to work on all of the above mentioned health concerns that are easily targeted by this type of massage therapy, or simple want to disconnect and relax for an hour, and Indian Head Massage is just the answer you’ve been looking for.

This blend of both modern and traditional technique is sure to help boost your mental and emotional well-being at the same time that it eases many of your body’s aches and pains.

There is a good reason this massage has been passed down from generation to generation for over a thousand years amongst Indian families, and we should be grateful to Narendra Mehta for introducing this Indian secret to the rest of the world.

Find an accredited massage therapist near you and watch your troubles and pains fade away.

References

  1. https://www.centreofexcellence.com/7-things-about-indian-head-massage/
  2. https://www.leaf.tv/articles/the-history-origins-traditions-of-indian-head-massaging/
  3. https://liberitherapies.co.uk/what-is-indian-head-massage/

Biofeedback – Mixing Technology With Alternative Healing

In the last century, and especially in the last few decades alone, there has been a constant flow of medical and scientific discoveries being made. When paired with the mind-boggling technological advancements taking place, we end up with significant developments in regards to creating groundbreaking and innovative treatments.

One such development is biofeedback, a process created by mixing technology with alternative healing methodologies.

What Is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a process whereby electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function is used to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function.

Those who practice alternative healing techniques believe that “energy” based practices can produce the same results as medication can.

In the case of biofeedback, the idea is that receiving specific pieces of information about your bodily functions can, in time, help you make the necessary changes in your physical and mental behaviour required to adjust and control these functions. This method focuses highly on the belief in the power of the connection between the mind and the body’s physical state.

Essentially, it is an approach to learning how to control functions that your bodily typically carries out on it’s own, such as heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, etc. by first practicing various mental activities and relaxation techniques to regulate these functions while being monitored.

How Does It Work?

Biofeedback works through a variety of electrical sensors placed on one’s body that are hooked up to monitors that display feedback on how one’s body is responding to different stimuli.

The purpose of these sensors is to measure how that individual’s body reacts to stress. This does not necessarily mean how one’s body reacts when they are stressed, but rather the physical stress their body may experience due to other illnesses or conditions.

A biofeedback therapist will suggest certain exercises and relaxation techniques for the individual to try based on the problem being addressed. This may include breathing techniques, meditation, or a variety of muscle tightening and loosening exercises.

The therapist will then observe how these exercise are affecting the individual’s monitor readings and can tweak the exercises, or try new ones, until they begin seeing the desired change in the body’s responses.

There are multiple specialized forms of biofeedback currently in practice; each form uses a different type of sensor, reads different responses, and is helpful in treating different issues.

The three most popular types of biofeedback are neurofeedback, muscle tension feedback, and thermal feedback.

Types of Biofeedback 
  • Neuro Feedback

This method uses sensors placed on one’s scalp to monitor brain waves using an electroencephalograph (EEG).

Most commonly, this method is used to treat ADHD symptoms, but can also be useful when treating a range of brain-related conditions, such as: addiction, anxiety, autism, depression, Schizophrenia, epilepsy, insomnia, etc.

  • Respiratory Feedback

This method involves sensor bands being placed around one’s abdomen and chest in order to monitor the individuals breathing patterns and respiration rate.

This type of feedback has been the most successful when treating issues such as panic disorders and asthma, as well as promoting better general heart health due to better breathing habits.

  •  Heart Rate Feedback

During a heart rate biofeedback session, finger and/or earlobe sensors with a device called a photoplethysmograph, or chest/torso/or wrist sensors using an electrocardiograph (ECG) are used to measure one’s heart rate and heart rate variability.

Blood pressure control and stress/anxiety reduction are two of the most common issues addressed using this type of biofeedback, but it has also been successfully used for other purposes, such as improving athletic performance.

  • Muscle Tension Feedback

This technique involves placing sensors over one’s skeletal muscles (the muscles that produce all of the movements of body parts in relation to one another through voluntary movements) and using an electromyograph (EMG) to monitor the electrical activity that causes muscle contraction.

This method is commonly used to treat conditions such as epilepsy, movement disorders (such as Parkinson’s), migraines, arthritis, or stress, and is even used to help patients during surgical recuperation. 

  • Sweat Gland Feedback

This type of biofeedback uses an electrodermograph (EDG), with sensors attached to one’s fingers, palms, or wrists, to measure the activity of the individual’s sweat glands and the amount of perspiration on their skin.

Sweat gland feedback is most useful when treating conditions such as anxiety or stress.

  • Thermal Feedback

During thermal biofeedback, sensors are attached to fingers or feet and are used to measure the blood flow to their skin.

Temperature often drops when an individual is under stress, meaning this is a good method to use in order to practice certain relaxation techniques.

Devices Used

As mentioned earlier, the devices used during biofeedback are typically a combination of sensors that are either attached to the individual or worn by the individual and the monitors that display the information gathered by these sensors.

The sensors most commonly used are the ones placed on one’s finger, scalp, or muscles, or the bands worn around one’s chest.

There are also a number of biofeedback devices available for home use. These are portable electronic devices that monitor different aspects of your body’s response system. These devices can help you with relaxation and changing behaviours that cause stress to your body without having to spend time and money on visiting the therapist’s office.

It is important to know, however, that not all home devices available are approved by the FDA. Not only are some of these devices not FDA approved, but many of the devices marketed make false claims of what they are capable of and the results they will provide.

If you are planning on purchasing a home-use biofeedback device, don’t forget to speak with your doctor about it first, and ensure you do the proper research required before choosing which device to buy.

What to Expect

Biofeedback sessions can range in length, typically from 60-90 minutes. The first session is typically a consultation with the therapist; during this consultation the therapist and the patient will discuss the problems that need to be treated, possible exercises and methods that may be used, potential outcomes, etc.

The number of sessions required will vary from patient to patient, with most patients needing an average of at least 10 sessions until they are capable of effectively implementing the control techniques without being monitored. This, however, is highly dependent on the condition being treated and the efficiency with which the patient learns.

During these sessions one can expect to be hooked up to one of the aforementioned types of sensors; the type of sensor used during the sessions is dependent on the condition the patient needs treated, because this dictates which bodily function is being monitored.

These sensors will be hooked up to different types of machines that will, most commonly, either beep or flash while displaying their body’s readings.

While hooked up to these machines, the therapist will have the patient practice a variety of different relaxation techniques or exercises, and will adjust these accordingly based on the changes that they make in the sensors readings.

Results 

Biofeedback does not necessarily work for everyone, and results are not guaranteed. However, if biofeedback therapy does work for you, there are a few results you may see.

First, it can help you learn how to control various symptoms you may be experiencing due to the issue being addressed (whether it be a mental of physical health problem).

Next, it can reduce or eliminate the amount of medication that was previously required to treat aforementioned symptoms.

Note that even if biofeedback is successful for you, it may not negate certain treatments you are currently receiving for the issue at hand.

Why Use Biofeedback?

There are a multitude of reasons why one may choose to try biofeedback therapy.

The main appeal of biofeedback therapy, also commonly referred to as biofeedback training, is that it can be used to help manage a variety of both physical and mental health conditions.

Some of the health conditions this type of therapy is most often used for include: anxiety/stress, asthma, headaches/migraines, various bowel problems, high blood pressure, and motion sickness.

While biofeedback therapy may not fully cure these conditions, it can help with relaxation, reduce symptoms caused by the conditions, and can even help in reducing the amount of medication needed to combat those symptoms.

Not only are the results of biofeedback desirable, but this type of therapy is attractive for a number of other reasons.

One of the largest draws to this type of treatment is that it is totally non-invasive. It does not require any surgeries, injections, etc.

It is also a great option for those who need alternatives to medications that haven’t worked, medications they cannot take, or those who simply do not want to be taking medications for one reason or another.

If biofeedback therapy is successful, it can give one the feeling of taking charge of their health. Feeling in control of your body can work wonders in terms of relieving stress and anxiety.

Giving It A Try

Biofeedback therapy is an amazing blend of technological advancement and alternative healing that has made waves in the medical world.

While monitoring and displaying your body’s various functions through sensors, you can learn to control these otherwise involuntary functions through a series of exercises by adjusting your exercises based on how your body is reacting to them.

Learning to control different bodily functions can have many positive impacts on your health. It can reduce stress, anxiety, aches and pains, and can even reduce symptoms of various mental and physical health issues you may be facing.

Biofeedback is a great option for anyone wanting to address these issues in an alternative, non-invasive, medicine-free way.

If successful, biofeedback therapy can reduce the amount of medications you need to treat the health issues you are targeting, and can give you a better sense of control over your body.

If biofeedback therapy is something that interests you, talk to your doctor about it. Your doctor can help you understand if and how this type of treatment can work for you, can refer to you a therapist, or can give you advice on the different home-use biofeedback devices available on the market.

There are very little risks involved with biofeedback therapy, so if it seems like something that can help with an issue you are facing, there is little reason not to give it a try.

References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/biofeedback/about/pac-20384664
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/biofeedback#purpose-and-uses

8 Medical Experts Who Specialize in Massage Therapy Research

Research has shown, and continues to support, the benefits of massage therapy. These eight researchers have made significant headway in the field of massage.

Physicians across the globe increasingly recommend massage therapy to their patients. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service covers 80-100% of massage therapy costs for patients with certain conditions. Here in the United States, over 65% of doctors refer patients who seek information about massage recommend this complementary treatment and refer them to massage therapists.

Medical researchers at top schools nationwide have gathered a growing body of evidence that massage therapy benefits patients with a wide range of symptoms and conditions. People increasingly turn to massage therapy, one of the top 5 complementary therapies in the United States, and about 18 million patients in the United States report using massage therapy.

Many college and university medical schools today support professors and faculty researchers who study the mechanisms and effects of massage therapy. Among them are the following individuals:

  1. Tiffany Field, PhD

For over 30 years, the University of Miami has set the standard for U.S. massage therapy research. In 1992, Dr. Field founded the Touch Research Institute, which employs researchers from top universities like Harvard, Maryland, and Yale. The first of its kind in the world, this organization studies massage therapy’s many applications in science and medicine, as well as its profound health and wellness benefits.

In 2016, Dr. Field (along with colleagues from the Touch Research Institute and the Children’s’ Hospital of Philadelphia) researched the effect of mother to infant massage on sleep quality for both babies and mothers. These experts discovered that a simple 15-minute oil massage before bed led to better sleep for mothers and babies (compared to no-oil massages and a control group that didn’t engage in massage therapy). In a similar 2010 study, Dr. Field and her colleagues discovered preterm babies gained weight faster and increased their bone density when their mothers massaged them with oil.

  1. Maria Hernandez-Reif, PhD

A faculty member at the University of Alabama, Dr. Hernandez-Reif frequently shares her expertise in developmental, cognitive, and behavioral psychology with the Touch Research Institute. An expert in the psychology of infant diet and digestion, she has contributed to many studies involving massage therapy and pediatric care (and over 160 publications, in total).

Dr. Hernandez-Reif has helped the Touch Research Institute identify and optimize specific massage therapy techniques to promote infant health, such as oil massage and moderate (vs. light) pressure.

  1. Miguel Diego, PhD

A pediatric specialist at the University of Miami, Dr. Diego has worked on over 125 research projects. In addition to studying the effects of massage therapy on infants, he has studied the use of massage therapy to treat arthritis pain in the hands, neck, and knees. Dr. Diego studies the psychological effects of complementary therapies like massage therapy, yoga, and tai chi on mothers with postpartum depression and their infants. He has collaborated with Dr. Field on many Touch Research Institute studies.

  1. Marlaine Smith, PhD

Dr. Smith serves as the Dean of the Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing. As a registered nurse and a professor, she has worked to expand the theory of nursing and increase the body of knowledge about massage therapy in nursing environments. She studies many holistic healing methods, such as touch therapy, reiki, and jin shin, among others.

At the University of Colorado School of Nursing, Dr. Smith leads research teams in foundational studies of massage therapies in hospital settings. She discovered that massage therapy facilitated patients’ recovery times, mobility, and energy. When working with cancer patients, Dr. Smith and her colleagues learned massage therapy reduces pain, increases sleep quality, soothes anxiety, and improves distressing symptoms.

  1. Justin Crane, PhD

As a doctoral researcher at Canada’s McMaster University Department of Kinesiology, Dr. Crane led a study (arranged by Dr. Melov) into the biochemical mechanisms of massage. With his colleagues, he showed that massage therapy reduced inflammation in young men with muscle damage caused by exercise.

More importantly, Dr. Crane’s team discovered why muscle injury patients benefitted from massage treatments on a cellular level. They found that massage therapy helps people with skeletal muscle injuries by:

  • Triggering mitochondrial biogenesis (cellular repair and growth)
  • Reducing inflammatory cytokines in muscle cells
  • Decreasing heat shock protein phosphorylation
  • Mitigating cellular stress from myofiber injuries

Dr. Crane currently studies the cellular biochemistry of aging at Boston’s Northeastern University. He focuses on the skin, muscle, and connective tissues targeted for healing by massage therapists.

  1. Simon Melov, PhD

Dr. Melov earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of London. Before he and his colleagues founded the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in 1999, he worked at Emory University and the University of Colorado.

In collaboration with Dr. Crane’s McMaster research team, Dr. Melov and his colleague Alan Hubbard studied the cellular and biochemical foundations of massage for skeletal muscle patients. He highlighted massage therapy’s potential to reduce inflammation and promote healing as well as the possibility it could target the same cellular mechanisms as prescription painkillers.

  1. Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, PhD

Dr. Tarnopolsky serves as the Director of McMaster University’s Neuromuscular and Neurometabolic Clinic and the CEO of the Exerkine corporation. He has published over 390 scholarly articles in his quest to heal people with symptoms of neuromuscular ailments and aging.

As a professor at McMaster University’s Department of Pediatrics and Medicine, Dr. Tarnopolsky oversaw Dr. Crane’s study. He stated that massage therapy can benefit patients dealing with the effects of aging, musculoskeletal injuries, and inflammatory diseases.

  1. Adam Perlman, MD, MPH

Dr. Perlman, the Executive Director of Duke Integrative Medicine, works with students as an Associate Professor of Medicine. In addition to performing many leadership roles in the complementary therapy academic community, he continues to research the efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments.

Recently, Dr. Perlman received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the use of massage therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Not only did his research team find that massage therapy decreased pain and increased range of motion, they also optimized the treatment protocol for this disease. They determined an hour of massage therapy each week was the best application of massage therapy treatments for OA patients.

A Wealth of Scientific Knowledge

Though countries like Russia have a long history of medical research into massage therapy, U.S. scientists have begun to close the gap. In recent decades, experts at many universities across the nation have dedicated their careers to proving the efficacy and multiple benefits of massage therapy.

Ask your physician how you can use massage therapy as part of your treatment plan. This popular complementary therapy offers pain relief, healing, and many other benefits, and it may ultimately reduce your need for prescription drugs.

References:

  1. American Massage Therapy Association. (2016). Industry fact sheet. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/economic_industry-fact-sheet.html
  2. Coleman, N. (n.d.). Why you could get alternative treatment on the NHS. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-55405/Why-alternative-treatment-NHS.html#top
  3. Duke Integrative Medicine. (n.d.). Adam Perlman, MD, MPH. Retrieved from https://www.dukeintegrativemedicine.org/about/meet-the-team/adam-perlman-md-mph-facp-2/
  4. Field, T., Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2010). Preterm infant massage therapy research: a review. Infant behavior and development, 2010, 33(2), 115–124. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2009.12.004
  5. Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Deeds, O., & Figuereido, B. (2006). Moderate versus light pressure massage therapy leads to greater weight gain in preterm infants. Infant behavior and development, 29(4), 574–578. doi:  10.1016/j.infbeh.2006.07.011
  6. Field, T., Gonzalez, G., Diego, M., & Mindell, J. (2016). Mothers massaging their newborns with lotion versus no lotion enhances mothers’ and newborns’ sleep. Infant behavior and development, 45a, 31-37.
  7. Florida Atlantic University. (n.d.). Biography: Marlaine Smith. Retrieved from http://nursing.fau.edu/directory/smith/index.php
  8. McMaster University. (2012). Massage is promising for muscle recovery: McMaster researchers find 10 minutes reduces inflammation. Retrieved from https://fhs.mcmaster.ca/main/news/news_2012/massage_therapy_study.html
  9. Melov, S. (2013). Identifying molecular hallmarks of aging to guide the development of anti-aging therapies. Retrieved from http://www.buckinstitute.org/melovLab
  10. Crane, J., Ogborn, D., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J., &
  11. Tarnopolsky, M. (2012). Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage. Science translational medicine, 4(119).
  12. ResearchGate. (2015). Profile: Maria Hernandez-Reif. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Maria_Hernandez-Reif
  13. Perlman, A., Ali A, Njike, V., Hom, D., Davidi, A., Gould-Fogerite, S., … Katz, D. (2012) Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS one, 7(2). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030248
  14. Science Daily. (2012). Massage reduces inflammation and promotes growth of new mitochondria following strenuous exercise, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120201141710.htm
  15. Smith, M., Stallings, M., Mariner, S., & Burrall, M. (1999). Benefits of massage therapy for hospitalized patients: a descriptive and qualitative evaluation. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 5(4), 64-71.
  16. Smith, M., Kemp, J., Hemphill, L., & Vojir, C. (2002). Outcomes of therapeutic massage for hospitalized cancer patients. Journal of nursing scholarship, 34(3), 257-62.
  17. Touch Research Institute. (n.d.). History of the touch research institute. Retrieved from https://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/About.html
  18. University of Miami. (2016). Research Profiles: Miguel A. Diego. Retrieved from https://miami.pure.elsevier.com/en/persons/miguel-a-diego/publications
  19. University of Miami Health System. (2017). Profile – Tiffany M. Field. Retrieved from http://uhealthsystem.com/researchers/profile/2581

How to Handle Online Business Reviews–Good, Bad, or Ugly

Part of managing a practice is knowing how to respond to feedback. It may be especially difficult to know how to respond to negative feedback delivered online.

Cultivating an online presence for your business has predictable pros and cons. Expanding any type of marketing can lead to dramatic improvements in the way your practice gets found and the number of potential clients who contact you. But an online presence can also result in more feedback than you’re used to–both positive and negative.

Sure, Miss Manners might advise visiting a business and offering complaints in person before jumping on the internet to register offense, but it’s increasingly clear her wise words often fall by the wayside. Though some may say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, it’s important to know how to interact with your online audience to best serve your practice.

Why Respond at All?

Think about the last time you were researching a business online–a restaurant, for example. You might visit their website to check out the menu ahead of time or see their hours of operation, but you likely also want to know what other people are saying about the service, the food, the cost value, and more. You might have checked Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, or Better Business Bureau for reviews.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you are not forming an overall impression of the business only by reading what previous patrons have to say; you are also looking for a professional response to these comments. If an employee of the establishment responded extremely defensively, blamed the patron in some way, or was otherwise rude in return, that would likely influence what you thought of the business.

Similarly, your opinion may be swayed if the company did not address any of the concerns logged by customers. You might wonder whether those issues have been addressed or whether the company cared at all about working to fix the problems mentioned. A simple acknowledgement of any comment demonstrates the business owner’s commitment to customer satisfaction. Even if the individual commenter never visits the establishment again, the interaction reflects positively on the business in the eyes of future visitors doing research.

Responding to Positive Comments

Taking compliments and kudos is the easy part of managing your online presence. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking kind words can simply be left alone; even a glowing review deserves a thoughtful response. People don’t often take to the internet to say something nice, so take the time to address individuals who verbally appreciate your services. “Thank you!” goes a long way on its own, but here are more ways you can acknowledge their gesture:

  • I’m honored by your kind words. Thank you!
  • It was a pleasure to meet you! I hope to see you again soon.
  • Please let me know if I can do any more to aid your healing.
  • I’m so glad to hear you’re feeling better!

Addressing Negative Feedback

Receiving criticism can feel like a punch to the stomach–especially because the internet offers a special kind of anonymity people often feel comfortable using with abandon. The occasional bodywork session might go poorly, for whatever reason. Or, you may do everything right and feel a special rapport with a client, but that person still fixates on the one aspect of their experience beyond your control. Reclaim the interaction by recognizing the person’s opinion and graciously replying in the most appropriate way you can.

If something is particularly hurtful or damaging, or if it may endanger your practice altogether, some platforms do allow you to delete comments. However, remember word-of-mouth is powerful, and someone may feel emboldened enough by your attempts to eliminate the feedback to criticize further. In fact, it can reflect positively on your business if you’re willing to let negative reviews sit with your courteous responses to them.

When you first see a highly critical comment about you or your practice, take a deep breath. An emotionally charged response may be tinted with anger and less likely to reflect your true compassion and understanding. Put yourself in the commenter’s shoes and try your best to adopt their perspective. Rather than making excuses or going overboard to explain a backstory for the person’s complaints, make constructive suggestions and offer an apology, if appropriate. Thank them for offering their viewpoints, and focus on moving past the offense.

Some responses that may work:

  • I would love to speak with you personally about this experience. Please get in touch with me when it’s convenient for you.
  • The issues you mention are things I am actively working toward resolving. I appreciate your patience as this process happens.
  • I would never want a client to have the experience you mention. I hope you will let me remedy this situation and offer a better service in the future!

The way you respond to any commenter, critical or otherwise, can make more of an impact than the original post on visitors and potential clients who are researching your practice. Invest a bit of time in addressing any comments you receive, and your online presence will be better for it.

Reference:

  • Martin, J. (2010). Complain in person before jumping online. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.uexpress.com/miss-manners/2010/2/28/complain-in-person-before-jumping-online

Why You Should List Your Massage Practice in an Online Directory

Listing your practice in an online directory like Massagetique can benefit you in many ways. It’s also likely to be simpler than developing your own website.

Like it or loathe it, the internet has brought communities closer together, made organizations far and wide more accessible, and brought information-sharing abilities to a new level. All of these can mean positive growth for your business, if you know how to use your online presence to your advantage. New to the world of online marketing altogether? Check out Massagetique’s free marketing guide for massage therapists to get started.

Part of your online marketing presence will probably be a website, another a Facebook page, another perhaps a listing with a generic directory such as Yellow Pages. In addition to your personal website and social media presence, it is in your best interests to strongly consider joining an online directory that specifically lists massage therapists and bodywork professionals. Directories like Massagetique can help you reach more people and grow your clientele, but they also provide vital business support in ways that aid all aspects of your practice.

More Visibility

Google processes billions of internet searches per day. In fact, approximately 40,000 searches are done every second. Furthermore, over a third of people look for businesses and retailers online. With so many people looking for information constantly and so much competition for ranking search results, how can you ensure your practice is found?

Online directories are a way of boosting your chances of being seen online. Search engines like Google prioritize sites with reliable content, high visitor counts, and a more established web presence. Directories, which tend to publish articles regularly and may be run by companies with the ability to invest in farther-reaching advertising efforts, have a distinct advantage in search engine ranking systems.

This means someone searching for “massage in Los Angeles, CA” is more likely to see a link to a directory than a link to your personal website. Plus, a ZIP code search through a directory like Massagetique will better direct potential clients to you if your office is located in a suburb or outside city limits.

Less Maintenance Than a Personal Website

Chances are, you probably don’t have an academic or professional background in web development or design. Though most websites make it easy for even those with no background in website management to set up and maintain a personal business site, it can still be tricky (and time-consuming) to establish an online presence with your own website. Marketing experts advise updating your site’s content often, engaging with visitors in a timely manner, and handling anything that goes technically awry. Even if you had the know-how to accomplish all these things on a regular basis, finding the time is another matter.

Listing in an online directory means being able to set up an inviting profile and leave it untouched for months and still see positive results. As you manage the day-to-day tasks associated with running your own business, a directory continues to improve its standing in search results, grow a social media presence, and help drive potential clients to your profile.

Cost-Effective Business Growth

Return on investment (ROI) is an understandable priority for business owners. You want to know the time and money you’re putting into a marketing strategy will yield the results you want in terms of client growth and retention. When it comes to finances, there is almost no reason not to list with a directory. Basic membership with Massagetique, for example, is free, so your only investment is the minimal amount of time it will take you to create a thoughtful, inviting profile.

In weighing directory options that cost money, consider how much you will make back if even one person begins to see you once a month for bodywork. A $30 per month membership fee, then, is worth it if one paying client pays twice that for a monthly massage session. And because word-of-mouth marketing is so effective for business owners, one paying client can easily lead to more.

One-Stop Resource for Your Clients

Many directories, including Massagetique, are constantly publishing news, information, and timeless resources that help people who are new to bodywork learn about different modalities and feel comfortable about the experience of receiving massage treatments. The more extensive these resources, the better chance potential clients will stumble across the content featured through a directory’s website and be moved to seek massage for themselves.

Articles highlighting the importance of massage for elders, for example, or detailing the benefits of bodywork for those with Alzheimer’s or depression, are all helping reach specific audiences that may not have considered massage therapy before. These resources are also an excellent way for you to connect with current clients by recommending reading and materials for self-care at home.

Even apart from the technical support, marketing wisdom, and visibility a directory offers, it’s worth trying a membership on a directory simply for the peace of mind that comes with knowing the bulk of your business marketing efforts are being handled. Learn how you can set up your listing today to start reaching more potential clients than ever.

References:

  1. Burgan, B. (n.d.). How much does massage therapy cost? University of Minnesota. Retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/how-much-does-massage-theraphy-cost
  2. Crawling and indexing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/crawling-indexing.html
  3. Google search statistics. (n.d.). Internet Live Stats. Retrieved from http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics
  4. Matista, S. (2016). How do customers find small businesses? Survey says…. Vistaprint. Retrieved from http://www.vistaprint.com/hub/digital/customers-find-small-businesses-survey-says-infographic/?GP=08%2f22%2f2017+15%3a12%3a42&GPS=4490686640&GNF=1
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