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Massage Today
March, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 03

Massage the Chiropractic Connection

Practice Building for Mutual Benefit

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

Marketing your skills, as a massage therapist, to chiropractors can be beneficial to both parties. Massage therapists approach chiropractors frequently for full or part-time employment.

So how do you set yourself apart? What unique skills do you, as a massage therapist, bring to the practice?

Since the mid-1990s, I have been presenting at chiropractic conventions. Often the topic involves integrating massage therapists into chiropractic clinics. This article will discuss various ways massage therapists can market themselves as a beneficial resource in a chiropractic office. Use the examples in this article as a guide to customize a working relationship with a chiropractor in your area.

Goals

Clarifying your targets and outcomes at the beginning of every project is imperative. For tips on designing empowering questions to help clarify your goals and determine the actions you need to take to get there, read "The Power of the List" (MT, January 2008) and "The SMARTER Approach to Achieving Goals" (MT, February 2010). Achieving your goals is easier than you think when you implement a few straightforward time-proven strategies.

Benefits

chiropractic profession - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Chiropractors offer you a unique way to learn while you earn. Typically, they have more extensive training in the human body and how to run a business. Look for locations that have good signage (visible to large numbers of people) and where they treat a large amount of patients that could benefit from massage therapy.

Commitments

Ask yourself: Are you really in a position to make a legal obligation like signing a multi-year lease on a commercial office space? Could you fulfill the financial commitments of security deposits, insurance, rent, utilities, office equipment, furniture, and signage before you even open the doors to treat the first client?

Working with a chiropractor can remove many of the obstacles massage therapists encounter when trying to start or maintain a practice totally on their own.

Security

A chiropractic clinic is a unique environment that allows you to learn, under a doctor's supervision, while treating individuals suffering with a variety of conditions. Another reason for working with a chiropractor is the security of a regular working schedule and paycheck. Each of us is faced with different circumstances and working with a chiropractor may be perfect for this stage of your life and career.

Status

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determines if you are an employee versus an independent contractor. You should talk to your accountant for the specific details. Be sure to follow all the laws and codes of all governing authorities. Depending on your employment status, benefits may include health insurance, an annual amount toward continuing education and/or paid holidays.

Evolution

Each chiropractor will have their own way of running their practice and integrating a massage therapist. The role you play in the practice will change over time based on your knowledge, experience, communication skills and the doctor's comfort level with your abilities.

Massage therapists can offer much more than hands-on therapy to the practice. They can play an important role in maintaining long-term patient loyalty with existing patients, as well as attracting new patients to any chiropractic clinic.

Gift certificates for holidays and special events are another way for the public to be introduced to the services at the clinic. So what else can a massage therapist bring to the practice?

Screenings

A free postural analysis that includes digital photos and a consultation, could be offered to new and existing patients. The offer should be limited in duration or connected to specific treatment packages. This is similar to a chiropractor offering a special with free X-rays and spinal exam.

The massage therapist could perform the entire service start to finish. (Read "Practice Building: Getting Inside Your Patient's Head" MT, January 2011.) Initially, the doctor might want to play an active role, teaching the therapist to deliver the postural analysis findings to the patient in a specific manner.

In this case, the therapist will position the patient in front of a postural analysis grid chart and take digital photos from different views with a camera built into a device like a smartphone with a large screen or any digital camera. Then, the doctor will deliver the report of findings, zoom in on the photos to show a forward head posture or high shoulder for example, set goals and lay out a treatment plan that includes massage therapy when appropriate.

Education

Massage therapists also play a support role by further educating and reinforcing the information presented by the doctor. They have the time with patients during therapy sessions to explain how muscles position bones in space, effect posture, range-of-motion, and the role trigger points (TrPs) play in causing pain.

The same model used during the postural analysis findings can be implemented with TrPs. The doctor can tap the skills of the massage therapist to provide patient education about TrPs. For specific pain conditions (temporal headaches or lumbar pain) either the doctor or the massage therapist can show the patient each trigger point pattern related to the specific pain zone. (Read "Headaches: Trigger Points and Practice Building" MT, August 2010.)

It is suggested you also connect the muscle to the postural analysis findings and its relationship to a vertebral subluxation. Present a clear and logical explanation of the treatment strategy with well-organized trigger point charts that display the muscles by compartment, superficial to deep. Laminated trigger point wall and flip charts allow you to use a wet erase marker to circle specific images and customize the treatment plan.

Rehabilitation

Under a chiropractor's supervision a massage therapist may be able to help with resistance training, exercise balls, reviewing self-care techniques and other activities.

Sales

The combined sales of all services and products in the clinic contribute to its ultimate success. Product sales are another way a massage therapist can help the clinic. The reality is many patients are buying other products at large outlet stores. A therapy session is a perfect opportunity to introduce patients to topical analgesics, and hot and cold packs. Providing patients with a little education on how a topical works, a complementary application and a few sample packets to use between therapy sessions can create a long-term buyer.

Over time, the sales of these items add up. Facilitate purchases by placing a display case featuring the different application types in each treatment room, reception and checkout counters.

Your massage career will evolve over the years and working for a chiropractor may be part of that journey. Determine your goals and the actions you need to take to achieve them. Set yourself apart, from the other therapists seeking employment, by showing the unique skills you bring to the chiropractic practice.


Click here for more information about David Kent, LMT, NCTMB.

 

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