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Massage Today
November, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 11


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

By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT


Thanks for answering our hot stone question in April (

We are doing quite well on the new service. Cindy and I are back for another point-of-view question. We have been open for over a year now, and I want to add products to our office for added revenue and a service to our clients. Cindy is not sure if it is worth the trouble. We are looking for your views on selling products and some ideas on the mark-up we should charge. Do you sell products in your office? If so, what type of products do you sell?

- Rosemary and Cindy from Illinois

Dear Rosemary and Cindy:

Hello ladies, nice to hear from you again! I do sell products at my massage office. We sell massage cream, lotions and oils, pain reliever, essential oils, bath salts, ice packs and added a gift line of motivational books, cards and candles last fall. I added the gift line during the holidays and it did very well in 2003. My clients like the idea of getting professional products from me. We have a steady monthly flow of pain reliever and oil/lotion sales at the office.

I have to keep records of all my massage sales, so it is not much more work tracking product sales. I try to buy as many products as I can from a main distributor so that I can do one-stop shopping, and the company has my buying record on file. I use Quick Books to track my sales and file a quarterly report with the state of Florida. I am with you Rosemary, and think you should look into adding a few products to start. I would start by adding professional products that you both already use in your treatment rooms. Always choose products you trust and would use yourself. Be sure to educate yourself on the products you retail, and choose products that your clients can't get at the local drugstore. There are many products that are available to you that are only sold through health care professionals.

As far as how much to charge, first look to see if your distributor or manufacturer has a suggested retail price (MRP). You should buy these products at wholesale or professional pricing; a mark up of 30 percent to 50 percent will be your average. A term I got from Amber products to help you sell is "Interactive Retailing." Elizabeth Myron, vice-president of Amber Products, states: "To increase the awareness of the retail products, we have developed a new retail concept called Interactive Retail. The concept is all about letting your customers interact with the retail products and educating them on how they can use them effectively at home!"

At my place, we sample the lotions and we use the same products during our treatments that we sell on the shelf. This has been a process for us to create a very soft sell on our therapists' part. Good luck and keep me posted.

- Lynda


I have heard that Russian massage is very deep and painful. Do you know if this is true?

- Ted in Detroit

Dear Ted:

I contacted Zhenya Kurashova Wine, who emigrated from the former USSR to the U.S. in 1980. She studied Russian medical and sports massage as a part of her physiotherapy degree in 1976 in Riga, Latvia. Zhenya is a pioneer of Russian medical and sports massage in the U.S., and has written extensively on the subject. She shared the following:

"Russian massage, like other forms of manual therapy, presents us with a variety of ways in which it is practiced. In my schooling in Russia, Russian massage was taught to us as a noninvasive and progressive form of manual therapy. We were told that if the body receives stimulation that is too painful, it will start a "guarding" or "defending" reaction, rather than a healing one; as a result, the process of rehabilitation will be slower.

In Russian massage we have many techniques that allow us to go very deep or remain superficial. Because Russian massage is mostly medical, we create specific goals that are physiological and use the appropriate techniques to accomplish these goals. By understanding how different touch changes the function of a person suffering from a dysfunction and understanding the cause, symptoms, and progress of a dysfunction, I have been able to come up with protocols for treatment of a variety of dysfunctions.

By applying appropriate techniques, I can I treat acute muscle strain with superficial gliding techniques and chronic strain with very deep pressure stretching techniques. At the same time, I can treat with the same success migraine headaches (vascular dysfunction), sciatica (peripheral nerve dysfunction), irritable bowl syndrome, or even obstructive lung disease, by using appropriate treatment protocols for each condition. One of my best protocols is a treatment for fibromyalgia that gets the patient free of general pain in five weeks.

Many believe that Russian sports massage is brutal, but in my practice I find Russian athletes to be more concerned with painful stimulation than an ordinary patient. I have seen Russian massage therapists both in Russia and in the U.S. give painful treatments, but I do believe that this is something that they did not learn it in the medical and sports massage programs in the former USSR."

For more information, Zhenya can be reached at or 309-786-4888.

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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