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Massage Today
August, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 08

Profitable Massage...But Not For You!

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

Thanks to everyone who wrote to ask why I left Massage Today! I didn't leave, of course, but many of you expressed surprise at finding last month's editorial written by Managing Editor Rebecca Razo instead of by me.

It was flattering to get so many expressions of concern, and I apologize for not adding an explanation to Rebecca's excellent article, which gave me a needed break. So, like it or not, you are still subject to my thoughts and opinions, because I'm here for as long as MT will have me!

Getting right to it for this month, I'd like to ask you to hop on your computer, open your Web browser, and check out www.worldchiropracticalliance.org/tcj/2004/jul/ricchio.htm. If your sensibilities are even remotely similar to mine, you'll find it akin to dumping a bottle of hot sauce on your ice cream - it will make your nose wrinkle up right before your ears start to steam. The article is by Dr. Geoff Ricchio, a chiropractor who "advises" other chiropractors how to create profitable massage programs. In my estimation, Dr. Ricchio appears to be a genuine walking, talking ethics void! He also appears to want to ride your back all the way to the bank.

Some clues to his smarmy business practices are his advertised phone number (831-GET-PAID) and his moneymaking program named the "Rub Club Massage Income System." My first inclination was to ignore this individual as an isolated bump on the continuum of ignorance, but then I read his bio, which says the "Rub Club" is used by more than 600 chiropractic clinics nationwide; moreover, his article was published in a journal touted as being "Read and respected by more doctors of chiropractic than any other professional publication in the world." His preposterous statements to that large an audience deserve to be challenged!

Dr. Ricchio outlines six points ("Ricchio's Rules") for creating a profitable massage program. Three of the six are valid: He suggests creating a low-cost massage therapy program in a chiropractic office for the general public; he suggests it is wise to have the massage program available as part of a wellness program for the business community; and he suggests making massage available seven days a week to meet the scheduling needs of the public, as well as to generate passive income. I have no problems with those concepts.

Where Dr. Ricchio shows his true feelings related to massage are in his first three "rules," which I quote below:

"Rule #1: Massage therapists are difficult to deal with. Make no mistake about it, MTs are at times scary people to deal with. All my problems with workers in my office have always been with massage therapists. They have a hard time adhering to normal office hours or even office protocol.

Rule #2: Never overpay a massage therapist. When these people get out of school, they seem to think they deserve $60 per hour! Yet, I've found that MTs will work harder for you at $20 per hour than $60 hourly. It's important that you set up a payment schedule that not only rewards them for good work but more work as well.

Rule #3: Only hire female therapists. I know this is wrong to do, but it only takes one male massage therapist to touch a woman inappropriately and you're sued and shut down by the Sheriff's department."

The first rule isn't a rule at all but an opinion of you and me, and very likely a reflection of what a delightful man he is to work for! Rule two is indicative of Dr. Ricchio's feelings on the limited value of massage for anything other than filling his pockets. It is about as valid a point as suggesting that no one should ever pay more than $5 for a chiropractic adjustment. The third rule asks that chiropractors engage in discriminatory hiring practices. Sure, he says he knows it's "wrong" (not to mention illegal!) but suggests chiropractors do it anyway. I'll bet that violates an ethics or standards of practice document somewhere!

The reason for all these suggestions is made clear near the beginning of his article. He states, "I have used massage therapists in my practice for the last 18 years and found them to be an incredible adjunct, not only contributing to improved patient retention but increased income, as well." Isn't it strange that beneficial patient outcome isn't listed as one of the reasons to use massage therapy in a chiropractic setting, but merely for patient retention and increased income? He misses the most important part of why massage therapy and chiropractic share such a symbiotic relationship! It's about the patient, not him!

The complementary/alternative/integrative (pick one!) medicine movement has enough problems proving its credibility. Dr. Ricchio is likely to turn a discerning public away from chiropractic care, but I'll let that industry worry about its own health. My concern is that his espousal of the misuse and abuse of massage therapists will give the public a poor first taste of the abilities and potential for massage therapy as a wellness intervention. That adversely affects all of us! I asked several chiropractors I know to give me their opinions of Dr. Ricchio's article, but a tight deadline didn't allow them respond fast enough to get included in this editorial. I'm hoping that they get back to me with expressions of distaste for the concepts promoted by Dr. Ricchio.

Many of us who have worked for chiropractors or who regularly get referrals from chiropractors know just how well the two interventions work in concert toward optimum health. My suggestion to those of you courted by "Ricchio's Raiders" is to be very, very unavailable.

Thanks for listening!


Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or via regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605


Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

 

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