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Massage Today
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08


"Touching the Massage Today readers one letter at a time"

By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT

Author's Note: Welcome to my monthly column, DearLyndaLMT, where I answer questions from you, the readers. I have been blessed this past decade by working with many experts in the massage profession who will serve as resources, mixed with a touch of Dear Lynda's views and advice.

So ask away with all those things you've wondered about but didn't know who to ask! I can't guarantee all of your questions will be published, but I will do my best to answer you, or at least point you in the right direction.

Please remember, as with all advice, it is just that: advice. Always check to make sure that you're working within your scope of practice in your city/county and state.

Please send your questions to or:

P.O. Box 173,
Cocoa, Florida 32923


I have a female client whose legs cramp (specifically her toes) every time she gets on the table in the prone position. I have to spend more time trying to get rid of the cramp that I do on the actual massage. It seems I have had this happen to a few other clients as well. Is there something that I am doing that I should not do? Typically, I put little bolsters under clients' feet to give them comfort. Should I not do this with certain clients, or get bigger bolsters?

-- R.S.H. from Jacksonville

Dear Scott,

I get bad leg cramps sometimes with I lay prone, and I only like using a pillow, not a bolster. I seem to have less leg and foot cramps during my massage when using a pillow.

I contacted Benny Vaughn from Fort Worth, Texas to answer your question. Benny is an internationally known massage therapist, a certified athletic trainer, and the developer of NeuroKinetic Therapy. Here is his reply.

Dear Scott:

Cramping in the legs, specifically the gastrocnemius and soleus complex, that occurs with clients lying prone on the massage treatment table is often related to hypertonic muscles. This condition causes the stretch reflex receptors to react to changes in length/tension with little provocation. Placing a bolster or pillow beneath the ankles, to elevate the legs and reduce the plantar flexed position of the ankle, will influence the length and tension of the muscle-tendon unit. This change in leg position can help reduce episodes of leg cramping while on the massage table. A recommendation to the client to include daily stretching of the calves and hamstring muscles also will help dramatically. Finally, it is important to consider contributing pathological conditions that may require medical attention, particularly if a person has a history of consistent leg cramping, especially at rest. Phlebitis, chronic low-level dehydration, and overuse of muscles may contribute to leg cramping.

Benny Vaughn


My local hospital recently approached me about to putting together a massage therapy program. I have been asked to develop a presentation for the hospital next month, and need to find a resource - someone who has already put a massage program in place in a hospital. Can you help?

-- Melanie from Wisconsin

Dear Melanie,

I contacted Patricia Cadolino to answer your question. Patricia is employed by Stony Brook University Hospital in New York. You might have read about her in a past issue of Massage Today. (Editor's note: See Claudette Laroche's column, Professional of Note, in the February 2002 issue.) Here is Patricia's advice:

My advice for Melanie would be to contact the Hospital Based Massage Network ( Founded and directed by Laura Koch, the mission of HBMN is to support people who are looking to integrate massage into mainstream medicine. It is a terrific resource for training courses and educational manuals on how to estimate costs, produce a financial plan, market ideas, policies and procedures, etc. The site also lists most of the U.S. hospitals that currently have massage programs. 

Network and learn from the professionals who have already laid the groundwork. For your presentation, I would include the published Massage research - go to I am totally convinced that without Dr. Tiffany Field's incredible work, I wouldn't be working in a university hospital setting. Medical professionals need to see the published data on the positive effects of massage. They need to know that it is safe and will not harm any patients in a critical situation. Integrating massage therapy into a hospital is a challenge, and being educated on the many contraindications is essential. Remember, you can't rely on doctors for all the answers -- they aren't trained in this area. It is a learning experience on both ends. Having good communication skills and professionalism is very important. I am constantly lecturing and teaching all the great benefits of massage as an adjunct treatment for patients in a medical care setting.

Best wishes to you!

Patricia Cadolino LMT, CIMI


I get a lot of useful information from your column. My whole office reads DearLynda! I am buying my first massage chair soon, and can't decide between vinyl and ultra leather for my chair. I just have vinyl on my table, because it is always covered. What type of chair do you use, and why did you choose one over the other?

-- John in Los Angeles

Dear John,

I have ultra leather on all my massage chairs. I like the way it feels, and I think the client feels much more pampered in the softer chair. Also, since you use it uncovered, I feel your clients get a chance to enjoy the softer feel - much more than on a table. If money is not an issue, I would suggest you go with ultra leather; if it is an issue, a sta-soft or lavante vinyl will serve your needs just fine. I do not know how you will be using your chair, but if you are trying to reach high-end clientele, ultra leather is a nice added touch.

Hope this helps, and enjoy your new chair!

Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT, NCTMB
Cocoa, Florida

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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