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Massage Today
March, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 03


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

By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT


I'm currently taking a business class at the massage school I attend. Well, I've found myself with quite a bit of work to do on a business plan I have to turn in.

Any ideas where I can see any business plans that could point me in the right direction? I want to do this right, because eventually I will have my own business.

- Olga in the USA

Dear Olga,

A good place to begin research a business plan is the Small Business Administration Web site: All good business plans contain the same elements. Also, read trade magazines and attend tradeshows to gain industry specific information to fill in the gaps. Visit other massage centers and day spas and get a clear idea of how you will be different, which type of clientele you will attract, etc. I also recommend you get the book Business Mastery by Cherie Sohnen-Moe for your business and marketing planning.

Good Luck!


Should I be concerned if my client complains of a slight headache, dizziness or vertigo after a massage session? Am I doing something wrong, or is my client just experiencing a toxic reaction?

- Marilyn in Ohio

Dear Marilyn,

I always check with my client to see how they are feeling after a session; any complaints are a reason for me to check back with them.

I sent your question to Erik Dalton, PhD, director of The Freedom From Pain Institute in Oklahoma City, Okla. Here is what Erik shared:

Marilyn, your concern over your client's reaction following a therapy session is valid. I find it helpful to chat briefly with my client after each session, to observe and question any unusual physical or emotional reactions that may have surfaced. A simple "how do you feel" seems to be a good start. Not only does this build a stronger rapport with the client, it also opens the door for discussion of any physical/emotional concerns. Commonly, a toxic reaction may occur after a therapy session for several obvious reasons, such as being new to bodywork, taking medication(s), fasting, or activation of emotional stressors.

Regrettably, these factors are not the sole contributors to the client's physical state after the session. Clients are often reluctant to complain of minor head pain, dizziness, anxiety or confusion, believing that the condition will resolve itself. However, these may be signs of possible tissue trauma that occurred during the therapy session.

Let me explain. During the session, the therapist may have been performing random, deep tissue techniques in the suboccipital area - particularly at the occipitoatlantal (O-A) membrane. This protective membrane extends from the posterior margin of the foramen magnum to the upper border of the posterior arch of the atlas. There is extensive mobility at the O-A or craniocervical junction and it is here that the heavy head must balance on the supple cervical spine. This is also the site of the tonic neck reflexes, which influence postural muscle tone throughout the trunk. When this area becomes agitated from improper alignment or abuse to sensitive underlying neural and vascular structures, the unfortunate results are headaches, hypertonus of postural muscles, disturbances of equilibrium and locomotor deficits. There is a direct connection between the dura at the rectus capitis posterior minor, and cranial nerves IX, X, and XI, which also traverse this diaphragm. One way for therapists to avoid injuring delicate structures such as the vertebral artery, spinal and cranial nerves is through careful study and palpation of the anatomy in this complex area.

Begin suboccipital work by locating the spinous process of C2 - it will be the first bump you palpate in the midline of the neck, as your finger moves down from base of the skull. This is a great landmark to help locate specific suboccipital muscles that can cause misalignment of the O-A and A-A. To avoid "poking-around" on the venerable occipitoatlantal membrane, simply use specific finger and thumb techniques to release or tone tendinous attachments along the bony margins. Tight, fibrous tendons attaching at C2, atlas transverse processes and all along the occipital ridge can be released with direct sustained pressure to the Golgi tendon organs (GTOs). Try using gentle, fast-paced spindle-stimulating techniques to tonify weak, flabby muscles. By avoiding direct pressure to the O-A membrane, many of your client's postsession complaints should diminish.

Erik can be reached at .

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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