Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sustainable Massage Practice

Fundamentals of Massage
By Sam Steven Due Date: 25 May

Describe how issues of sustainability relate to massage practice.

For a business to survive in the modern climate there are certain parameters that should be considered in order to maintain the sustainability of the business and subsequently quantify its performance and longevity. I have outlined some of these parameters below using the example of a massage therapy practice.

Environmental sustainability describes the effect on the environment of running a massage clinic. We can take steps to reduce the detrimental effect on the environment by considering the way in which we operate our business and the products and resources we use. For example:

  • By using energy efficient light bulbs to reduce the toll on electricity. This is beneficial to the environment but also for economic sustainability.
  • Using natural light where possible. This reduces the need to use of electricity (reducing the electricity bill) as well as being healthier for the practitioner and the patient by providing a natural source of vitamin D.
  • Sources of heating and cooling of the room.
  • By using biodegradable or environmentally friendly laundry powder when washing linen.
  • Using recycled paper when taking notes.

Social sustainability:
Marketing: By educating the public on massage and its benefits you will produce an informed population and thus, an informed/educated client list. Consequently, this education is likely to lead to ‘word of mouth’ marketing for your business ultimately expanding your business through positive feedback cycles.

Forming allied healthcare: By building and maintaining communication and referral lines between other healthcare providers (particularly those of which patients may well ‘trust’ such as doctors) exposes your massage practice to those practitioners as well as establishing trust and respect between the professions. This is not only beneficial and sustaining for the individual practices involved, but for the future exposure and therefore sustainability of massage therapy alongside ‘mainstream medicine’. Note: I say ‘mainstream medicine’ in the context of the most common therapies to date (doctors, physiotherapists etc). Regarding massage sustainability, the future of the profession will be much more prosperous if it can become a ‘common popular therapy’. This does not mean sacrificing the foundations of massage therapy to fall into line with general practice, but educating society so that massage is regarded as a therapy to credit for all it offers.

Working within the massage scope of practice: This allows practitioner safety against any potential future jurisdiction, and patients awareness of the parameters of your practice. Communication lines should be kept open to ensure the scope of practice is fully understood and likewise any personal considerations of the patient are respected appropriately.

Economic sustainability. Essentially a massage practice is a business, the operation of which requires money, and essentially is a medium by which the operator earns a living. Economic sustainability requires that ‘money in’ at least equals money out (or more equals profit).

Expenses must be reflective of the money coming in (how many patients you are seeing). An example is office/room rent. Although practice location is important for marketing, if the rent exceeds what is being made, this is unsustainable. In saying that, marketing can assist in the development of a company/business. Start small, once marketing strategies have been put in place and actual growth (i.e. client list) is seen, you can look into expanding and relocating to a practice that more adequately reflects your earnings or spending more on extra expenses. However it is suggested that extra expenses always be spent with the aim of further promoting the growth of your business. Always aim at your current cash-flow and expenses, rather than what you aim to be making/doing. This is sustainable investment. Alternative expenses such as the implementation of a receptionist, cleaner and advertising are the kind of expenses that may be justified (and required) with growth of a business.

Personal sustainability for the therapist is also a vital avenue to be considered to ensure the long-term health and well being of the practitioner. This will ensure productivity and efficiency in the treatment they are performing. There is no point exhausting the therapist so they are unable to work efficiently in the future – *the broken healer. Areas to consider include:

  • The techniques being used, for example using correct technique – entire body to apply manual therapy, correct body position etc.
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Hygiene
  • Adequate recovery time/sleep to avoid exhaustion
  • Lifestyle balance
  • Using products (oils/waxes, linen etc) that are safe for both the patient and the therapist.

Areas where I can improve sustainability which I have picked up from this study and which I will employ in my massage practice include:

Using more natural light in my treatment room. By opening the curtains during daylight hours I will be able to save costs on electricity and also reducing the strain of electricity production on the environment. The light will also give a more natural aura to the room.

Likewise to control the temperature of the room, I can either close the curtains to retain warmth or open them to allow the suns heat to warm the room as opposed to a heater. Opening windows to cool the room as opposed to using a fan will also be more sustainable both environmentally and economically by reducing electricity usage.

I find I often fall into incorrect body position while giving treatment. By ensuring I use correct posture and technique while applying massage I will be ensuring my own sustainability by reducing the chance of injuries and will be able to provide more sessions and a more efficient and productive service to my clients.


  1. This is great tips for the theraphists to do their share to the environment. When all business try and do what they could in green initiatives this is good advice for the theraphists.

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