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Massage Today
May, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 05


By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT


I have a client who is a runner and always gets cramps in both calves while getting his weekly massage treatment. What is the best treatment for this?

-- Jim from Vermont

Dear Jim,

The first thing I do is remind my clients to drink plenty of fluids to counter the cramping effects of dehydration.

I apply direct compression to the calf muscles, then stretch the muscle that is cramping. I find that applying ice after the massage helps to further reduce soreness in that area.

I called sport massage therapist and educator Michael McGillicuddy to give us more information on cramps and massage therapy, and what you as a therapist can do for clients who suffer from muscle cramps. Michael shared the following with me:

Cramps are one of the most common problems a sports massage therapist has to learn to deal with during a massage of an athlete. Calf cramps happen often as you are massaging the athlete. They can be caused by many conditions, and how you treat the cramps may vary depending on the cause.

Probably the most common cause of calf cramps is overuse of the lower leg muscles. When an athlete lies on a massage table in the prone position, the ankle is usually in the plantar flexed position, which causes the calf muscles to shorten. A cramp is nothing more than a portion of the muscle going into spasm. When you shorten a muscle that is spasming, you encourage more muscle fibers to spasm, which can create the cramp.

My first choice of treating a cramp is simply to elongate the muscle tissue that is cramping. In the case of calf cramps, that would mean positioning the ankle in a more dorsiflexed position. You should do this gently to avoid pulling the muscle out of a cramp. If the cramp continues, you may try a reciprocal inhibition technique. While holding the ankle in the neutral position, ask the athlete to contract the anterior shin muscles, creating an isometric contraction. This inhibits calf muscle contraction, and can be followed by a gentle stretch of the ankle into the dorsiflexed position. You can follow-up with gentle massage of the calf, but avoid putting the ankle back into the plantar flexed position.


I am in the process of setting up on-site massage therapy for a company. The company representative told me that the company wants to charge me 10% commission on my total revenues for providing a space and the marketing. I have never heard of this practice being done with a corporate office. What do you think?

-- Patricia from Dallas, Texas

Dear Patricia,

You are right -- most companies see it as a benefit you are providing their employee and do not charge you a percentage for setting up. Lots of companies are paying for the service for their employee. When a company wants a percentage, I would not offer any discount for the services. I knew one massage therapist who made a deal for x amount of massages to the company instead of a percentage, for things like employee of the month awards, etc... just food for thought. It is all in how you sell it to the company. I have heard of companies wanting a piece of the pie before; I think that 10% is not a bad deal to give them if you look at it as paying rent for the space. Looking at it from that view, it is cheap rent!

I called Harvey Feinstein, LMT, director of the LMT Success Group in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He shared the following with me:

I have been doing corporate massage for over 14 years now, and I'll be honest with you, neverr have I heard of this practice being done, but after thinking about it, it seems like a fine idea. Think about what you are getting in return for your 10%

  1. office space
  2. in-house promotion
  3. self-promotion (table business)
  4. retail opportunity (gift certificates. etc.)

If you do it right, and you have someone within the company set up the appointments and collect the money in advance, you can be assured of " x " amount of dollars before you even get there. If you think about the massage therapist who works in a spa situation, who may get 40 or 50% of what the house charges, your 10% is not bad.

Patricia, keep us posted on your outcome with the company, and how your business is going!

Dear Lynda LMT,

I love to use oil in my practice, but can't seem to avoid stinky sheets. What do you use in your practice, and can you share some laundry tips for stinky sheets? Please help with my rancid nightmare.

-- Michael in Ohio

Dear Michael,

Are you using a special additive in your wash to help with removing the oils? That would be the first thing I would try. I use a natural degreaser for my linens and sheets in my practice, one that uses the power of citrus peels to power out oily build-up naturally! It's super-concentrated and economical; I use only four ounces per load. Plus, being from Florida, I love the orange scent!

I contacted Dianna Dapkins, president of the company that manufactures massage oils and the particular degreaser I use, to share some of her laundry tips with you:

  • If linens are very saturated with oil that has been "baked-in" over time, we recommend pre-soaking them for at least four hours. Your best bet is to fill the washer with water and the degreaser, then turn it off and let the sheets soak overnight if possible.
  • Launder massage linens within 24 hours of use. This prevents the oil from penetrating the fibers. If storing used linens longer, place in a black plastic bag and seal tightly to minimize air and light exposure (two things that turn oil rancid!)
  • Use only 100% cotton linens. Oil cannot be removed from artificial fibers, such as polyester. 100% cotton linens are more money but the wash better, feel softer to the client, and ultimately last longer. We recommend 100% flannel massage linens.
  • Use lukewarm water. Do not use hot water -- this cooks the oil into the linens!
  • Do not over-dry the linens in commercial dryers -- it will bake-in residues. Baked-in residues are ultimately twice as difficult to get out! If recently washed linens contain any residue, re- launder to remove all build-up. Don't cook the oil in!
  • The best laundry tip of all -- Use a small hand towel to remove residual oil, cream or lotion from each client's skin. The benefit to the client is removal of all residue, plus a slight exfoliation of the skin (which feels great). The benefit to the therapist is that these wipe-off towels can be washed in their own separate load. The oil will not be spread all over all the linens. There will be no "body-print" outlines on the sheets. Also, these hand towels are very affordable and can be discarded once they've "had it!" This is much more economical than buying all new linens all the time. I have used wipe-off towels for years, and clients often comment on how much they like my technique.

If you have a question on the massage profession for DearLyndaLMT, e-mail them to her at: or write her at:

DearLyndaLMT c/o Lynda Solien-Wolfe
P.O. Box 173,
Cocoa, Florida. 32923

Lynda Solien-Wolfe is Vice President, Massage and Spa at Performance Health. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has been in private practice in Merritt Island, Florida for more than 20 years. Lynda graduated from Space Coast Health Institute in West Melbourne, FL.


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