If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
If you watched the Rio Olympics for more than about five minutes, you probably came across some images of Michael Phelps and the obvious round bruises he had on his arms and upper back. And he wasn’t the only athlete with them - not by a long shot. This got the media talking about them and of course, talking about what caused them: Cupping Therapy. It seemed to be one of the hot new treatments athletes are trying out to deal with the pain of training at the level that they do, so they can go out there and win more medals.
So of course, with all the talk about it, various health professions are now talking about it. Some are debating whether or not it is an effective treatment, some are curious about it, and many are looking for courses to take in order to learn it.
Now, given that I'm no longer an RMT I'm not going to talk about whether or not cupping therapy is effective, or if it has good research behind it, and so on. There’s lots of discussion out there online about that stuff - use your own judgement and do your research, ok?
But what I do want to talk about is how I see Massage Therapists and other health care professionals jumping on the fad treatment bandwagon and how you really should stop doing that.
Let’s be clear here before I go on:
I’m NOT saying these sorts of treatments are just fads and aren’t good options for some patients. What I am saying is that I see a lot of Massage Therapists take a course because it’s the latest fad, because it sounds cool, or because they think it will make them lots of money. Not because they’re super interested in learning the modality and not because they think it’s a direction they want their practice to go. They’re just jumping on the bandwagon just like everyone else.
But like I tend to say a lot: is that what’s best for your business?
During the years I was an active RMT I saw a lot of fads come and go in terms of their popularity for CEU courses. For example, right after I graduated, hot stone massage was the treatment you wanted to learn. It felt like everyone was learning it or some modified version of it, and the course options were plentiful. I totally admit I went and learned it because it seemed like ‘the thing’ to do!
But here’s the real problem with that: the business I was hoping to create at the time was focused on amateur (read: regular joes like you and me) athletes and rehab work (like MVAs) and hot stone didn’t really fit into that picture.
When you do anything for your business, you really should always ask yourself one big question: Will this help me achieve what I’m hoping to achieve for my business? Or put another way, does this really fit with what I do best and the types of clients I want to keep seeing?
For me and hot stone massage, it really didn’t. It brought me some lovely people, sure, but they were focused on relaxation, stress reduction, and ‘treating themselves’. While those are all nice reasons to get a massage, it wasn’t in line with what I was trying to build: a stable practice focusing on rehab and working with athletes.
But what about the growth of your business? It might seem to you that adding a new modality to your practice will only help bring in new clients. If you add cupping, hot stone therapy, or acupuncture, surely that will only help your business because there will be more things for folks to choose from, right?
Well, I’m going to disagree with that! (Bet you didn't see that coming!)
It’s good to have a varied toolbox to help you in treating patients. I’m 100% with that. But the toolbox you build should be focused on helping the folks you’re best at working with and are in the niche you want to serve. It should NEVER be about casting a super wide net and hoping you’ll attract enough people that it all works out. If you cast a wide net, what actually ends up happening is people will have a hard time figuring out what exactly it is you have to offer. If you’re offering so-called ‘standard’ massage along with reiki, cupping therapy, cranial-sacral and ART, that seems like a really weird mix of things! Unless you can really clearly tie them together for people, they’re going to be a bit confused.
Let's put this in another way: If you had a serious skin condition, would you just go to your family doctor? Or would you make sure you got in to see a dermatologist? I’m betting you’d want to see the dermatologist, because they specialize in skin conditions and are that much more equipped to help you with your condition.
The exact same thing goes for massage - and for any business, really! I realize many of the so-called complementary health professions can't specialize at the level that doctors do, but you can and should show people what kinds of therapy you are focusing on. That focus should be reflected in your marketing and advertising, your website, and anything else you do that shows current and potential clients what you have to offer.
If you’re thinking of adding cupping - or any modality to your practice - make sure it’s something your target clients actually are looking for or could greatly benefit from.
Don’t do something because it’s a fad. Do it because it’s right for you and your business.