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Important Questions When Booking a Massage

I’ve been running Inner West Mobile Massage in Sydney since 2005 and it still astounds me that a high proportion of phone calls begin with the words

How much do you charge?

or

what are your rates?

Whilst I know that price and costs can be a huge factor in the decision making process but for me, I would want to know something about the type of massage I would be getting and, in particular, something about the skills, experience and training of the therapist who would be putting their hands on body. Yes, price may be a factor but surely though the value of the massage and service is much much more important?

I would want to explain the reasons why I would be wanting a massage such as I need a sports massage or a remedial/deep tissue massage for a sore lower back and then questions I would want to be asking are:

Is the therapist you recommend suitable for my requirements?
What is their level of training?
What is their level of experience?
How long have they worked for you?
etc

Currently we charge $100 for a one hour mobile massage in Sydney. We only use experienced and professional therapists who are registered with health funds and we believe we offer fair value compared with a massage from a therapist of equivalent experience in a clinic (particularly as we are prepared to offer an unconditional guarantee about our services).

Now, the normal response if I answer their question about prices is that the caller will say

Thanks. I’ll call you back

(not that they ever do).

I’m often tempted to ask them what they are expecting our rates to be. Are they used to paying $60 for a one hour massage in a dodgy clinic where the therapists have no formal training and the towels might have been washed last week? Many clinics in the Inner West are in the price range of $80 to $90 so we are more than competitive with them given that there are so many benefits from having a home massage.

  
But for them, $100 is too high to consider.

Now, maybe I am being a little harsh, and those who are on a limited budget may begin to ask the type of questions I would expect, if our price fell within their price range and, for them, there is no point wasting time on discussion. But I suspect that these are exception and the majority of these callers just equate value to price. The quality doesn’t matter, all they want is a cheap massage.

Sorry, unfortunately cheap massage is not our business. Great value massage is.

Swearing and Pain Relief

Many massage therapists will tell you that massage should not be painful and “no pain – no gain” should not apply to bodywork. If they are causing you pain then you should let them know so that they can back off their pressure or change the massage “tool” they are using or work elsewhere to try to achieve their objective.

However, there are occasions when the therapist does need to cause a little (or significant) pain to release a restriction or tight muscle through deep tissue techniques. Sometimes you have to go one step back to go two steps forward and this is approach is often employed physiotherapists who do soft tissue work.

pain relief during massageThe pain can be intense albeit often only for a short time whilst the therapist is doing their stuff. (Am speaking from recent experience for a hamstring problem which has had my therapist well and truly getting stuck into my glutes which is only good when he finishes).

Makes you feel like letting fly with words and expletives that you wouldn’t normally use in public.

Well, researchers have found that swearing can have a positive impact on pain tolerance so long as swearing is not part of your everyday vocabulary (1).

In the study, participants were asked to place their hand into room temperature water for three minutes to act as a baseline. They then had to place it in water at 5°C for as long as possible whilst repeating either a specific swear word or a specific non-swear word.

The results from the research were that people who did not swear very often in daily life could keep their hands in the cold water for about 140 seconds when they were permitted to swear. This was about as twice as long as the time when they used the specific non-swear word.

However, for those people who stated that swearing was part of their daily speech, they could only keep their hands in the cold water for about 120 seconds when they used the allowed swear word.

  
The researchers concluded from the study that swearing can be an effective form of short term pain reliever if used in moderation by providing a type of “stress-induced analgesia”. If swearing is part of your normal vernacular though this can water down their emotional benefits.

So the next time your therapist is getting well and truly stuck into some soft tissues and it hurts, don’t be shy. Feel free to let fly with the words you wouldn’t be using in polite company and give yourself some natural and free pain relief with no side-effects (other than maybe a little post-massage embarrassment).

Will you feel better for it? ******* oath you will!

(1) R. Stephens, C. Umland. “Swearing as a Response to Pain – Effect of Daily Swearing Frequency”. The Journal of Pain. Vol 12 Issue 12. Pages 1274-1281. Dec 2011

By Richard Lane

Massage and Back Pain
– Research Findings

There are many reasons why people book in for a mobile massage in Sydney with us. It can be purely to de-stress and wind down. It can be as a reward for working hard. It can be part of a sportsman training regime to include a regular sports massage. However, the majority of people that we see are suffering from physical discomfort and they are looking for remedial therapy to help them reduce the pain and tightness they are experiencing.

Massage for back pain reliefNeck /shoulder pain and headaches are probably the top of the list for the reason why people book in for a remedial massage and many people know that massage is a great way to deal with these problems. The next most popular reason for getting a remedial or deep tissue massage is for lower back pain and there is some good news that recent research has found that massage may very help is dealing with the pain and suffering that lower back pain can cause.

When suffering from lower back pain many people seek out medications from their doctor to treat the pain. Others try exercise regimes from physiotherapist. However, a significant proportion of experiencing and secondly as a form of preventative maintenance once they are relatively pain-free. Researchers set out to ascertain whether massage compared favourably against usual medical intervention for treating lower back pain.

In the study (1), carried out by researchers from the Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, the study participants were randomly assigned to receive either a relaxation massage, a structural (remedial/deep tissue) massage or usual medical care without massage. Their symptoms had been assessed and also recorded was the impact of the back pain on their daily life.

Those in the massage groups had a one hour session weekly for 10 weeks.

The symptoms of those in the study were recorded after completing the massage program, at six months and finally a year after they initially began the massage.

The results obtained were encouraging for the massage industry. After the 10 week assessment, the researchers found that those who had received massage had lower levels of pain and they were able to perform daily tasks better than those who had only received the usual medical care. These results were similar regardless of which type of massage they received, be it relaxation or structural.

Whilst the benefits did not remain after one year, there was still a significant difference with the results obtained after 6 months and so it may be reasonable to conclude that massage can be an effective treatment for those who are suffering from lower back pain.

(1) Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. “A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial.” Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):1-9.

By Richard Lane

Why I Enjoy Doing Mobile Massage

Being a mobile massage therapist is not for everyone. It is relatively easy to come up with a list of the disadvantages and problems associated with mobile massage therapy. These include:
– Having to work out of business hours, often late into the night
– Trying to find a carparking space close enough to the house or unit where you will be working
– Carrying heavy massage table/towels/equipment around often up multiple flights of stairs
– Working in isolation from other therapists/professionals
– Never quite knowing what type of premises you will be massaging in and how easy it will be to set up your table. Will there be enough room? Will it be cold or hot? Will it be noisy? Will there be other people around?
– Are there are personal security risks (particularly relevant for female massage therapists)

Yet despite these negative factors, I have been a mobile massage therapist in Sydney for over 7 years and still enjoy and prefer plying my trade in this way compared with being in a clinic.

So what are the advantages that outweigh the negative?

Advantages of Mobile MassageThere are a number of reasons why I prefer providing a mobile massage service in Sydney compared with working in a clinic. Some of these relate to advantages to the client; some relate to advantages to me.

For many people who are working full time or are constrained as to when they can get to see a massage therapist then there are significant advantages of having a home massage in Sydney. These benefits are covered at http://www.innerwestmassage.com.au/benefits.php.

Whilst there is a great deal of job satisfaction with being able to provide such a service, an additional benefit that I often feel is that there is more synergy with a home massage. The fact that someone is prepared to let a stranger into their home, then take off their clothes and permit this stranger to rub oil into their body provides a powerful message from the client to the therapist that there is trust. This element of trust is greater than in a clinic which can be, well, clinical.

Mobile massage clients are nice people to work with.

This is not to say that clients in clinics are not nice to work with but, for me, seeing people in their home provides that greater level of personal trust and permission to provide bodywork.

From my point of view as a mobile therapist the advantages include:
– no overheads. If you are paying rent at a clinic then there is a requirement to make sure that there is someone on your table as much as possible. No client means no money coming in to cover the money coming out. Whilst it is true that no body on the table for a mobile therapist means no money coming in, at least there is no money going out.
– I choose my hours. Yes I work what some may consider to be anti-social hours, late into the evening and weekends. But this suits me and my lifestyle at the moment. Being in a clinic and needing to be available at specific times is a constraint.
– physical demands are less. Although I have to lug my gear around, the physical demands on the body are less than if I was doing back to back to back… massages in a clinic. When I am providing mobile massage service then I am able to get a break when I am travelling between locations.
– you get to work in different and interesting locations. Not all massages are in homes. I’ve massaged in garages, outside, in theatres, on film-sets, hotels rooms of varying standards, etc.
– providing couples massage with another therapist is a pleasant experience.

  
I can’t say that I will be a mobile therapist indefinitely but I have been for the past years and have no yearning to go back into a clinic. I enjoy massage and I enjoy massaging clients in their homes.

By Richard Lane

3 hour massage offer

Please Note: This offer is no longer available – if you are interested in receiving a 3 hour massage then please call and we can discuss price/time etc.

Recently there was an online discussion about the merits or otherwise of giving and receiving a three hour massage. This as a result of someone getting rave reviews for three + hour massages that he was providing to his clients.

Whilst I have provided lengthy massages when I was based in a clinic, I have never given a 3 hour massage as a mobile massage and would be interested in trying to some to see
(a) if there is a demand for such experiences and
(b) whether I’m physically up to it!

So as a marketing exercise I would like to offer a couple of 3 hour massages for the price of 90 minutes hour (ie $130 which would also be covered under health funds if you could claim for remedial massage).

(now for the small print)
This offer is:
– made by Richard Lane and the 3 hour massage offer is not available for any other therapist who work with Inner West Mobile Massage.
– 3 hour massages are only available Monday to Friday during business hours. This offer is not available for evening/weekend appointments.
– suitable for someone who has deep tissue/remedial or sports massage on a (semi) regular basis. If you have not had a massage in a while then it is possible that a 3 hour session may be a little too strenous for the body. Also please be conscious of any massage contraindications that may impact on the suitability of receiving an extended massage (eg pregnancy, specific injuries or conditions, etc)
– initially available for one male and one female client who respond according to the instructions below (will add in the comment as and when booking is made with a male or female client).
– available for locations within the map below.


View 3 hour massage offer region in a larger map

If you wish to book a 3 hour massage or would like any more information then either send an email to richard@innerwestmassage.com.au with your location, contact details and times that may be suitable. As this is an offer with Richard Lane directly then we ask that you do not phone the Inner West Mobile Massage number directly.

Please Note: This offer is no longer available – if you are interested in receiving a 3 hour massage then please call and we can discuss price/time etc.

By Richard Lane

Sports Massage Does Work!

In recent years there seems to be have a move towards more evidence based practise for a range of practitioners. This is not a bad thing for the massage industry as many of the more spurious claims that are made can be challenged and dismissed. However, one of the problems that massage faces is that there is a dearth of quality research available.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case which include a lack of money when compared with the amount of funds available for pharmaceutical trials and also a fundamental problem with much of the research in the natural therapies domain in that designing standard treatment protocols is extremely difficult when most therapists’ practice is based on tailoring a treatment to an individual client’s needs at the time.

A 2012 study into the benefits of sports massage has attempted to redress the issue of quality massage research with findings that are encouraging for the industry.

Sports massage SydneyAfter a water skiing injury a researcher at McMaster University, Canada, Mark Tarnopolsky, found that massage therapy provided a significant amount of pain relief and he decided that he wanted to understand the underlying mechanism whereby massage aided his recovery.

Along with some colleagues, Tarnolpolsky decided to investigate why massage can reduce pain and the results (for massage therapists and for sports people) were encouraging (1).

For the study, 11 males were exercised to such an extent that they were affected by exercise-induced muscle damage after working out on an upright bicycle. One of their legs was then massaged for 10 minutes. The researchers took muscle biopsy samples from the participants’ vastus lateralis muscles at various times:
– at baseline
– immediately after the massage
– after 2.5 hours of recovery.

The results were extremely encouraging. There is strong support for the hypothesis that exercise can activate the genes which are associated with repair and inflammation and it was no surprise that the researchers observed there was significantly more indicators of cell repair and also inflammation in the biopsy samples post-exercise when compared with the pre-exercise measurements.

However, there was a clear distinction between the study participants’ legs that had been massaged and had not been.

They found that the legs which had received the 10 minutes of sports massage had:
– reduced the amount of exercise induced muscle inflammation by diminishing the activity of a protein, NF-kB
– increased by about 30% a gene that helps muscle cells build mitochondria, PGC-1
– modified levels of other proteins with similar roles in the body.

  
Although this is only one study and the massage protocol may not be relevant for all sports people, it does provide evidence supporting the use of massage therapy to reduce pain and encourage muscle repair. Further work would need to be carried out to assess the optimum pressure, length of massage and the commencement time after exercise.

But there are few who would argue that getting a massage to reduce pain from sport is a preferable alternative to anti-inflammatory medications.

(1) J. D. Crane, D. I Ogborn et al “Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signalling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage”. Science Translational Medicine 4, 119ra13 (2012).

By Richard Lane

What Suburbs Do We Visit?

Although we would like to cover as large as area as possible, the practicalities of providing mobile massage in Sydney means that we do have to limit what suburbs we do and do not visit. Our company name, Inner west mobile massage, gives a good indication of our service area.

However, the definition of what is and what is not the Inner West is a matter of conjecture. For our purposes we define the area covering from the city as far West as Homebush, south as far as Bexley, mainly on the south side of the Parramatta River (although we will go to suburbs such as Gladesville and Hunters Hill).

A map of our service area is shown below.


View Inner West Mobile Massage Sydney in a larger map

It should be noted that not all therapists will be available for all suburbs which are at the boundary of the area that we cover. If you live in a particular suburb and want a specific therapist then we will endeavour to make that happen but, because of distance and logistics, we cannot guarantee this.

We are often asked to provide service outside of our area. It may seem plausible that if we go to suburb “X” then we will go to the next suburb “Y” as it will only be another “5 minutes”, particularly if we add on a small travel surcharge say of $10 for the extra time/cost for the therapist.

Unfortunately the issue of travel surcharge is not as straightforward as adding the travel time from “X” to “Y”.
Our fee is based on an average travel cost for providing massages in the area we service. As it is impractical to vary the rate on a suburb by suburb basis then the upshot is that some suburbs are easier and cheaper for a therapist to get to, others are longer and effectively more expensive.

These are not actual figures but just shown for demonstration purposes. If our average cost of travel to an appointment is $30 then an “easy” location may only cost a therapist $10 in travel costs and time whereas suburb “X” on the fringe effectively costs $50. Going to suburb “Y” may have a true travel cost of $60.

So whilst we only charge a travel fee of $30 to go to “X” as part of our service area, we would need to charge $60 to go to “Y”. As this difference $30 for neighbouring suburbs may appear to be excessive, then, as a business we have taken the decision it is easier not to go outside of our area rather than have to try to justify a large surcharge for travel.

Having said that then if you do live outside of our area then by all means feel free to give us a call as individual therapists may be available for particular suburbs depending on their own circumstances (for example if they live at the fringe of our area then for them travelling a little outside is an option). It is just that we as a business do not guarantee that we can provide a suitable therapist.

Is it you who does the massage?

It is hard to succeed as a male massage therapist in Sydney. The demand for massages from males is significantly less than it is for females even for the best male massage therapists.

Men prefer to book massages from females and a reason often given is that they are “uncomfortable” being touched by another man. Male massage for women in Sydney is also less common, more because of a cross-gender touch considerations (although having said that, the majority of the clients I see are female). Men are uncomfortable with a male massage therapist providing bodywork to their wife, for example, even though the majority of my clients are females (and some men specifically book a guy to massage their wife).

male massage therapist given female sports massage

Whilst the demand for massage from masseurs is less than for masseuses that does not mean that it is impossible for a male to succeed. If you search clinics and for mobile massage in Sydney, then it is immediately apparent that there is an abundant supply of men providing remedial and therapeutic massage so there must be some demand there.

I have been working as therapist in Sydney for a few years now and, although I have and still regularly face the bias against male massage therapists, I have survived long enough to carve out a career. Once you realise that you have to target people who are more concerned with the quality of the massage rather than the gender of the therapist (or those who are specifically after a male massage therapist) then you have a chance.

If you imagine that you will be working in a swanky Sydney day spa giving relaxing massages to the beautiful people then you will be in for disappointment. People who are after a sports, deep tissue and remedial massage will much more likely be your customers.

Having said that I understand the favouritism that exists towards, I still bristle and take umbrage when someone rings up our mobile massage business and asks

“Is it you who does the massage?

There is no preamble, there are no niceties. There is no “Hi, my name is …. and do you mind me asking is it you who does the massage?” Instead they just immediately fire away with the question as their opening salvo.

I don’t know why it bothers me and annoys me but it does.

Maybe they are not expecting a male to answer their call and they struggle to find a polite way of asking the question they are really asking which is

  

Can I book a massage with a female?

I really do not have a problem with someone wishing to book a massage and their preference is to see a female. I’m a big boy, I wear big boy pants. I accept that is the way of the massage world. I have been providing massage in Sydney for long enough.

But

“Is it you who does the massage?

bugs me.

However, if you do specifically prefer to receive bodywork from a male massage therapist then please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0421 410057.

By Richard Lane

Massage in Newtown

If you walk down King Street in Newtown you will see that there are quite a few places where you can get a massage. This may be from a Chinese massage clinic, a Thai day spa or a remedial massage clinic. Some of these will accept walk-in appointments, some of these will require you to book.

If you are looking for a massage from an accredited and professionally trained therapist then it is probably best to avoid most of the establishments that will take walk-in appointments as some of the therapist’s massage experience might be a little limited.

One of the problems with getting a massage in the area is that parking on King St can be a challenge at the best of times. If you have booked an appointment at a certified clinic then you may find that you have to allow yourself a fair amount of time to get there and park so that you are not rushing to get to your appointment on time.

There is an alternative though which can overcome some of the problems of getting a massage in Newtown. Inner West Mobile Massage provides a service in which professionally trained therapists come to you.

No more worries about parking for you.
No more worries about whether you are getting a massage from an accredited therapist.

All of our therapists are recognised by professional associations in Australia (such as ATMS) and are registered with health funds to provide rebates for remedial massage. The services we offer include remedial, sports, deep tissue and pregnancy massage and we bring all the equipment we need, massage table, towels and oils.

Therapists are available 7 days a week, including evenings. Obviously the more notice you can provide the better but some therapists may be available at short notice (online bookings are available for some therapists through Online massage booking).

Please note that we only provide therapeutic massage services and whilst there are both female and male therapists available for mobile massage, we will only accept bookings with female therapists from females.

If you want any more information then please give us a call on 0421 410057.

Remedial Massage in Newtown, NSW

By Richard Lane

Carpal tunnel, pregnancy and massage

Carpal tunnel can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition that can affect anyone. However, during pregnancy the chances of suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome are greatly increased, particularly in the latter stages of pregnancy. The reason for the greater incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy is that there is greater retention of fluid (due to varying hormones during pregnancy) and that relaxin can soften the ligaments that form part of the carpal tunnel.

Carpal tunnel and pregnancy massageCarpal tunnel syndrome will normally manifest in the form of pain, numbness and/or tingling in the outside three fingers of either hand. In more extreme cases, the compression on the nerve through the carpal tunnel can lead to the forearm feeling numb. The fingers and the hands will feel weak and have poor grip strength and pain may radiate up the arm as far as the shoulder.

For pregnancy induced carpal tunnel syndrome the symptoms will be worse either during the night or first thing in the morning due to greater fluid retention as the arm is relatively inactive.

There are a number of steps to you can take to reduce the impact of the condition. These include:

  • Avoiding any task or action that causes pain
  • Elevate the affected arm to attempt to reduce the amount of oedema and swelling
  • Be aware of your posture. There is a tendency amongst pregnant women (+ office workers + people who drive a lot etc) to have their neck protracted ie their chin juts out. Even a little can add compression to the lower cervical vertertae so try to keep your chin back in a more neutral position.
  • Try to keep your wrist in as neutral a position as possible (some physiotherapists recommend the use of splints to maintain a neutral wrist while you sleep. If you are suffering from carpal tunnel from breast feeding then remember to bring the baby to the breast rather than move the breast to the baby and again be aware of your wrist position.
  • Some professionals may suggest modifying your diet (and/or lifestyle) to reduce your body’s general propensity for swelling

Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome During Pregnancy
An effective massage for carpal tunnel syndrome is primarily aimed at reducing the amount of swelling in the arm through lymphatic drainage techniques and, when performed by a therapist who has a good understanding of the condition, it can be a highly effective treatment.

Routine for Carpal Tunnel Pregnancy Massage
This routine can be considered as being relevant for during pregnancy and also post-partum when the new mum can have wrist problems when breast feeding.

Start at neck with little or no lubrication and work very and gently. The movement of lymph at the level of the skin is the objective for the routine. Always proximal to distal with the order of the strokes but work each individual stroke in a distal to proximal direction. Stretch the skin and work down the arm all the way down to the hand. Again need to reiterate that the pressure should be very light as working deeply can be ineffective.
Repeat this series of strokes a few times.

  
Perform a lymphatic compression on the arm – scooping up and then hold each compression for a count of about 10. Pressure is still very light.

Compressive tissue release – keep wrists neutral and stroke down the forearm (both top and botton of the forearm) using thumb and fingers whilst applying traction to the wrist. This stroke can free up the nerve sheaves through the carpal tunnel.

If you feel that you need to stretch the fascia of the palm make sure that you keep the wrist in neutral. Work the joints of adjacent fingers in opposite directions.

By Richard Lane


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