Sponsored content provided by The Jacquelyn Project.

By Marshall Dahneke

Marshall Dahneke is running the 2023 Boston Marathon for cancer relief in honor of his daughter, Jacquelyn, who passed away from breast cancer in early 2022. His column details his personal health journey, inspires massage therapists to live a healthier life, and promotes The Jacquelyn Project’s ‘Running for Cancer Relief’ efforts partnered with the Massage Therapy Foundation. Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African proverb) To stick with a wellness and endurance training journey, a team will help us go the distance, carrying us further than we would likely go on our own.

As I began my running journey, I just went outside and ran. As I progressed and hit plateaus, I began to search for experts, starting with family and friends, to help me to break through barriers. Ultimately, I engaged a personal running coach for expert guidance.

We are all accustomed to advisors and coaches. We take tennis or golf lessons from a pro. We use attorneys to help us navigate through contracts, wills and the like. An accountant handles our books and income taxes once things get a little too complicated.

A personal coach can be incredibly useful to anyone leaning into this sport of wellness. Put simply, coaching involves unlocking a person’s potential in order to maximize their performance. A great coach can serve many roles: technical educator and supporter, motivator, psychologist, and ideally as a role model for the wellness athlete to follow. Many of us have been blessed by life-changing coaches during influential periods in our lives.

As a massage therapist, you are in a unique position to serve as a wellness advisor or coach to many of your clients, in whatever capacity is within your scope of practice.

Serving as a coach involves assisting clients with their learning curve and change-management efforts, helping them to acquire knowledge and transform their beliefs, behaviors, habits, and ultimately even identity. This kind of makeover requires long-term commitment and expertise, both of which may be lacking at times in our clients. To serve as an effective coach, you will need to embrace at least some of the following (governed by the scope of practice where you work):

  • Teach and model wellness principles
  • Encourage clients forward when they falter
  • Acknowledge progress and suggest course corrections for improvement
  • Offer interventions that correct issues or accelerate progress
  • Challenge clients to break through plateaus as they settle or get stuck
  • Recognize and celebrate successes

My massage therapist has become a key advisor and coach for me, second only to my running coach! He understands my specific needs and provides targeted therapy as well as advice based on the progress (or lack thereof) of specific muscle groups. He always asks about recent races and focuses on upcoming race commitments, knowing I will see him about three days prior to be in top form and then a few hours afterward to accelerate recovery.

Massage therapists have so much to offer anyone, including runners, seeking to improve their well-being. Let’s face it–what therapy is consistently available at the finish line of every marathon? Occasionally physical therapy, podiatry and even chiropractic. But always massage therapy! For good reason. We know that massage can calm the nervous system, improve blood as well as lymphatic circulation, relieve muscle pain, accelerate recovery and help with pain management. 

Other common coaches on a wellness journey can include close family and friends (who care the most and can elevate accountability), a personal trainer assisting with exercise, a dietician or nutritionist guiding us on eating choices, or a certified wellness coach.

As a professional, where do you look for expertise? Certainly, you seek out expert instructors providing CE courses on the latest therapies and modalities. Industry associations like the Massage Therapy Foundation and publications like MASSAGE Magazine that feature some of the latest and greatest research, outcomes and tools. Additional examples of compelling professional advisors available to guide massage practice include several of The Jacquelyn Project’s generous sponsors:

  • Massage Warehouse is focused exclusively on supporting massage therapists by providing an extensive portfolio of supplies complemented by the latest industry trends and the newest products. Massage Warehouse offers a knowledgeable and experienced support team, free access to massage treatment guides and popular massage topics (as well as a price match guarantee). For me, Massage Warehouse is not just a store that sells massage products;  they’re a partner that supports the profession, helping to make massage easier and better by providing the right products and knowledge to enable therapists to focus on what they do best, improving their clients well-being.
  • Stopain Clinical partners closely with massage professionals on helping people perform better and move pain-free. Their line of topical pain-relief products were specifically formulated with hands-on health care professionals and their clients in mind. This fast-acting formulation with penetration enhancers plus 10% menthol, MSM and glucosamine provides clients and their families with a highly effective wellness solution. Stopain’s video library (stopainclinical.com/videos) offers expert guidance on modalities from some of the best educators who are also fellow practitioners.

This month’s invitation is for you to embrace sources of expertise around you to become a better therapist–and to fully embrace your natural role as a wellness advisor and coach to guide your clients, as appropriate, to a better quality of life. I doubt I would have qualified for the Boston Marathon and been able to consistently train without the excellent care and coaching from my massage therapist. You are changing and improving lives every day with your healing hands!

[Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights and a donation link.]

About the Author

Marshall Dahneke is the grateful husband of Michelle and proud father of six wonderful children, a lover of massage, former CEO of Performance Health, 2016 Massage Hall of Fame inductee, and aspiring endurance athlete finding his way to a better way of life.