The economy may be frigid right now—but so is the weather. And that actually spells opportunity in many markets for certified massage therapists.
 
If snow and ice have got you buried, that means people have to dig out of it. And they should be a target customer.
 
The serious back-breaking chores of plowing driveways, shoveling sidewalks and scraping car windshields create some intense side effects. Winter-related back injuries will affect 50,000 Americans this year alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As a result, many massage therapists see first-time customers in the winter months-–men and women seeking comfort to the aches and pains that come with the snowflakes and icicles.
 
While cold weather and joint pain have long been connected, the real source of muscle and joint pain can be attributed to changes in barometric pressure. Add the physical strains of tackling winter’s charms, and you end up with a lot of pulled muscles, strained backs and tired bodies.
 
The repetitive motions associated with many winter activities, such as shoveling snow or scraping ice off of frozen windshields, often require the use of a specific group of muscles. And this unilateral tightening can create a strain on the vertebrae, causing the spine to become unbalanced.
 
So what’s the best treatment for these customers? Consider a combination of deep-tissue and hot-stone massage for back pain relief. The hot stones not only supply a soothing warmth to combat the outside elements, but also can be strategically used on the customer’s body in areas of highest tension. This use can assist in the release of muscle tension through the transfer of moist heat, allowing the therapist to safely access deeper muscle layers.
 
So what’s the key to turning that winter business into a year-round customer? Once you have completed the initial session, provide your customer with feedback and any additional massage-therapy recommendations. During this time, offer incentives, such as gift cards and membership discounts, to help your clients make an extended commitment to their health and wellness.
 
So consider a cold winter a prime invitation to thaw your business and tap into a new customer base. Promote the benefits of massage therapy and wellness to a population that is freezing and in dire need of help.
 
You may find that the cold weather gets them in your doors, and your services should be aimed at turning that cold lead into repeat business.
 
Michele Merhib, Cold Weather and Hot Business, MASSAGE MagazineMichele Merhib is the founder and consultant for elements therapeutic massage (www.touchofelements.com), which has franchised massage studios in 21 states across the U.S. elements therapeutic massage offers hot-stone therapy combined with deep-tissue massage in an 80-minute session to provide more than temporary relief. For new clients that may not be ready to commit to an 80-minute session initially, elements offers 55-minute sessions as well, which provides a nice introduction to massage therapy.

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