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Tuesday, 04 December 2012 15:50

Product Knowledge and a Strong Foundation

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When it comes to providing your craft, there are some similarities and also defined differences – whether you are a massage therapist or a skin care specialist. Those differences are put in place by your state, written most often in your scope of practice. So knowing the regulation of your state is very important.
In some states, massage therapists are not allowed to put product on the face. In addition, skin care specialists have their own limited guidelines for their massage approach; they usually can provide a relaxation technique to feet, hands, neck and décolleté.

Product Bases
We all have four basic choices of lubricants: cream, lotion, gel and oil. The products are listed in order of viscosity/thickness; in most cases the thicker the product the more controlled glide you will have.
What separates a cream from a lotion is the amount of water in the blend; lotion has a greater volume of water and will absorb faster into the skin then its cream counterpart. Creams were developed to work like oil to provide a longer lasting glide than a lotion with a better absorption rate
than oil.
Gels started to become our fourth option in the early 90s in our pursuit to find a maximum glide potential. Due to lack of education, gels started off to a slow start. The greater glide you get from a gel comes from the blending of wax and oil. When working on a client with body hair, you will use less gel than if using any other product for the desired glide. This makes the choice of using a gel more economical; fewer products equal reduced cost.
Oils were the first product known as a body lubricant associated with massage. In its natural state, oil should not contain any preservatives. When looking at oil blends, you may consider seed-based oils instead of nuts to avoid any reactions for those who have nut allergies.

Ingredients
Professionals need to become more aware of the ingredients in the products they use to better serve their clients and themselves. All products are not equal and you might want to look into ingredients (such as parabens and animal byproducts) and make an educated choice if such ingredients work for you. You will find blends that will include arnica extract, fractionated coconut oil and avocado oil to name a few. These ingredients and many more have a soothing and – some may suggest – a medicinal benefit to the human body. A little knowledge will go a long way as we educate our clients and take our ability to assist the body in its natural healing process to reach a new level.
As you start to learn some of the great ingredients and their benefits, a whole new income stream will open up revolving around better home care for your clients. There are several products available that can be incorporated into your current offerings – from body butter to face cream to foot balm to topical analgesics. As long as you use the product in your treatment and its benefits are rooted in science, your sale should be a very organic process.

Foot Care
Let us look at one possible product and why you want to offer it: foot care. There are very few people that do not like their feet massaged and far fewer take care of them.
As a society, we habitually wear shoes that do not encourage the strengthening of our feet since the muscles are not encouraged to function. We can provide some support to the health of our feet and our clients with the use of topicals available to us. They will not help with strengthening the muscles of the foot but they can assist in increasing circulation and decreasing inflammation. These products will most likely be under the category of foot balm.
Some of the ingredients you might want to look for are menthol, dwarf pine and horse chestnut extract. I also recommend combining a product that would have a cooling effect which might contain juniper berry fruit oil, cinnamon leaf oil, Melissa oil, et cetera. You will find some of the popular brands to be cost favorable and provide a strong retail component. I would not up-sell these products because it is ingredient responsible and great for general foot care.
End your session with your foot protocol if your product contains Menthol. I have found most cream-based foot balms and cooling products have sufficient glide and will not need any other lubricant while working on the feet/lower leg.
All of the new information we are looking to incorporate in to our treatments improve the end results. One of the primary concerns many service providers have is their ability to provide quality treatments and avoid burnout and work related injuries. There are several precautions that can be taken.
I think our primary "Achilles Heel" is our body mechanics, which transcends to all spa service providers from massage therapists, skin care professionals, hair to nail technicians. Our skills do vary and some have finer motor skills than others; but there is still much one can do to minimize work-related injuries and in turn improve our quality of life.
My approach comes from a personal experience when I started working with stones as a deep tissue massage therapist. In order to save my body and still work with stones, I had to make some changes and do them right away. Early on in one of my workshops a student said to me, "When you do that stroke your wrist angle was like this and your fingers did that.…" As it turned out I had no clue because I was working without being conscious of my movements and only working out of habit. In order for me to start to understand where my pain was coming from, I started to work with my massage table in front of a mirror so I could become aware of the root of my problem. What I came to understand is that we need to work out of choice – not out of habit. It is hard to correct a problem if you cannot see it. I have found that if I have a few options on how I can approach my client and change them up, I do not develop the same holding patterns that can produce repetitive use syndromes. I do recognize there are some skills where a dominant hand is necessary to be used; just become aware of them so you can make adjustments when necessary.
Keep in mind that an overstretched muscle can produce a similar pain as an over-contracted muscle because they both will have a lack of oxygen and blood flow. A balance of flexibility and strength will help provide the strong foundation we all need.

Bruce Baltz is vice president of education & business development for Bon Vital, Inc. He is coordinating an in-house CE program focusing on product awareness and the science behind ingredients. Bruce is an internationally recognized educator with over twenty-eight years experience in the fitness and bodywork industry, a licensed massage therapist in N.Y. and Fla. and nationally certified by NCBTMB. In 2010, Baltz was elected to a three year term as a Board Member of NCBTMB. He developed Deep Tissue Healing; "The Art of Stone Massage" in 1999 and in 2003 founded SpiriPhysical, Inc. In 2004 he brought Active Isolated Stretching (AIS): The Spa Method to the spa community.

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