The Cost of a Massage
Once in a while, it doesn’t happen too often but it does happen, we get a phone call from someone asking what we charge for a massage, and we give them our rates. Sometimes they go ahead and book an appointment, but once in a while we are met with some resistance….
- “Oh. That’s expensive”
- “I go to a place down the road that charges” (insert an amount here that is less than we charge)
- “I just saw a Groupon for (insert an obscenely low amount that no business should ever charge for a quality massage” (more on that in a later post)
- “Do you offer first time deals?”
- “Do you take insurance? (read my answer to that right here
I could go on and on but you get the gist of it.
There are always going to be cheaper massages out there, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Picture this if you will. You take advantage of one of those “introductory” offers for the low price of oh, I don’t know, $59 for an “hour” massage. But that hour massage is actually only 50 minutes (if you’re lucky) because the fine print shows that 10 minutes is allotted for undressing/re-dressing and a consult. So, in reality, you are paying $1.18/minute for what is likely a standard Swedish massage (trust me, I’ve done the field research, a lot of it is garbage). Yeah, you feel relaxed after, maybe you even got a little nap in, but it didn’t really work out that dull ache in your hip that has been nagging you for months. And now you’re slathered with way too much massage oil and you’re worried it’s going to stain your clothes. (Remind me to share a story with you about the student massage I got one summer and I had to wash my hair 3 times to get the oil out and I didn’t even want to get into my car because I felt so greasy!).
So you have that same nagging hip pain and you decide to try out a Lokte Method session at Michigan Massage and Wellness. You book a 30 minute session to the tune of $55. And because this place has online intake forms your massage therapist is able to take a look 2 days before your appointment and start to form a plan of action. You come in a few minutes early as directed and your therapist goes over the treatment for the day and gets to work, and you get the full 30 minutes. So that works out to be $1.83/minute so while it is higher than that other place, you leave with immediate relief and while I’d love to say “and you live happily ever after without any hip pain at all” but that’s not how life works and as much as I would love to deliver results in just one session, well if I could I would be charging a LOT more! So you book another appointment, and another, and in the span of 2 months you end up spending $420 with us for 4 sessions (2 30-minute and 2 60-minute) which totals $2.33/minute. But then? You don’t come back! And why? BECAUSE YOUR PAIN IS GONE. How do we know this, you ask? Because when we ask another client how you are doing and she relays back the message of “she says you fixed her!”.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of those introductory offers, Groupons, and everything else that makes it look like you are getting one hell of a deal, but it all depends on your attitude and what your end goal is. If it’s for pain relief or an injury, I hate to say it but it’s going to cost you.
Take Teresa for example. She is a long, long, long time client who first came to see me in hopes of avoiding surgery on her elbow because she had been through the gamut of doctors, injections, medication, physical therapy, etc., and her doctor was recommending surgery. Now, while insurance back then would have covered much more than it does these days, you’d be looking at anywhere from $10,000-$16,000. Factor in a very conservative $2000 deductible, not to mention time off work, repeated visits to physical therapy, and don’t forget about those copays!
Or, you can do what Teresa did and search for a local massage therapist in your area that can treat lateral epicondylitis (or whatever the pain and problem in question is), make once or twice weekly appointments for 3-4 weeks and then re-evaluate and see where things stand. And oh yeah, you can even use your HSA or FSA to pay for your sessions! You don’t need to take time off of work, deal with months of rehab after, not to mention the buildup of scar tissue that inevitably follows.
In good hands,
Rebecca Tamm, LMT