Being a massage therapist is hard work.
We push ourselves to make sure our clients get the deep massages they desire, but we often do this to the point of risking injury to our hands and fingers.
It’s in our nature to be givers in our chosen line of work. We have a great desire to make people happy and feel better. But how do we do that without injuring ourselves? We all know of fellow therapists who had to stop massaging due to injuries.
I know many massage tools are available; but I’ve never been a big fan of tools because I believe the human touch is so important, and I never want my clients to feel like a “thing” is on them, or even worse—not feel my hands at all.
Golf Ball Massage gives you the best of both worlds. An ordinary golf ball is an excellent massage tool, the perfect size for both cross-fiber and deep trigger-point work, but using it for deep pressure can hurt your palm. I use a special tool I created, the SPAball Kaddy, to control the ball and protect my palm when giving deep pressure. It’s sized so that your hand glides on the client at the same time.
Often when I use this tool, clients aren’t even aware that I’m using a tool at all. They just think I have amazing fingers and thumbs. They can relax, blissfully unaware that I’m using a tool to deliver that wonderful pressure.
Golf Ball Massage Therapy for Trigger Points
The deep pressure of a golf ball in the rhomboid/upper trapezius area is a huge relief for clients, since this is a common area of complaint. Before I used golf balls, I used my elbows, fingers and thumbs.
Using a golf ball for massage gives pressure that is smaller, harder and more focused than using an elbow does, and it is much easier to accomplish this pressure with the ball rather than the fingers or thumbs. I use both palms to push down on the golf ball into the trigger points in the upper trapezius and hold for 10 to 20 seconds.
Another of my favorite areas is the tibialis anterior. This muscle is so tight that often it’s not worked very well. Although I still use my thumbs and fingers during massage, it’s quite a relief to have this golf ball tool as an alternative.
I usually warm up each muscle group with effleurage and compression before introducing the golf ball. Then I roll the golf ball in a circular motion for cross-fiber massage, and pause on the trigger points. (Make sure you experience this yourself first before trying it on someone else, because you can accomplish very deep pressure with very little effort.)
You can use the golf ball for any of the trigger points on the body, but I like to use my thumbs for the neck area. I still use the golf ball there, but since it’s such a delicate area I need to use smaller, focused pressure.
Give Golf Ball Massage Your Own Twist
You don’t need to recreate a new massage routine to start doing Golf Ball Massage. Simply incorporate the SPAball Kaddy and golf ball during the parts of the massage where you need to go deep. I keep mine in a holster specially made to hold this tool, which I wear on my hip, next to my lotion bottle; however, some therapists use the pocket on their uniform or the pocket on an apron. It’s nice to have it handy when you need it.
Show Your Clients How to Work on Themselves
I believe that when you teach your clients how to take care of themselves at home, it builds loyalty, because it shows you care about their health.
For example, if a client has troublesome knots in her upper back, you can show her how to put a golf ball in a sock and drape it over her shoulder. Then demonstrate how to lean against a wall, pushing the golf ball into those knots. I teach my clients how to do this and they often tell me how much it helps them.
Nothing replaces a professional massage, so your clients will still come back for more massages—but they will also tell their friends how helpful you are. Referrals are king in our industry.
Bring Attention to Your Business
One of the benefits of offering Golf Ball Massage is that it’s unique and gives you something to offer that is different from other massage options clients may have in their area. Here are some tips for marketing this technique.
- Give your Golf Ball Massage a special name. Make the name something special so it’s memorable, but also reflects your massage in a positive and accurate way. This will be important when word spreads about your wonderful massage.
- Target guys. Men make up half our population and men’s treatments are becoming popular. Some men may be reluctant to go to the spa to get a massage, but the idea of a Golf Ball Massage may pique their interest.
- Turn gift certificates into gift boxes. Package your Golf Ball Massage gift certificates with a golf ball in a box. Get creative! You can have your logo printed on the golf ball, also. It makes a gift much more fun to buy (and give) than if it was just a certificate.
- Write your local newspaper about your special modality. The press is always looking for something exciting to share with readers. Attach a photo, give details of why Golf Ball Massage is special, and explain why clients love it.
- Register as a Golf Ball Massage practitioner. Sign up with the free Golf Ball Massage registry so that people in search of therapists who do this type of massage can find you.
Learn Golf Ball Massage
There are three levels of training for Golf Ball Massage. First, visit the Golf Ball Massage YouTube channel to view free videos. If you’re interested in going further, there are also DVDs and online continuing education options available.
Golf Ball Massage is my most popular modality—and when I use it my hands are not tired at the end of a long day. As with any new technique, it takes a bit of time to become comfortable performing it, but it will be well worth the effort.
Heather Karr, L.M.T., is the owner of GBM Health Inc., inventor of the SPAball Kaddy, and author of the Golf Ball Massage 12-hour online continuing education course. Her other specialty is Compassionate Touch for hospice patients; she regularly volunteers for Our Community House of Hope in Thousand Oaks, California.