Part 2: Dr. Michael Olpin Interview – Massage Chair Research (Video)

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Transcript of Video Titled “Part 2: Dr. Michael Olpin Interview – Massage Chair Research”

Weber State University LogoDr. Michael Olpin: The median age for Weber State University, as a campus of about 26,000 students, is 26. And so, we have – and I would say, just from observing, just – we haven’t taken that age group, we haven’t separated out, by age group, that demographic, we haven’t looked at that. We plan to now, but just looking as an observer for the past four years, probably, well, well over 50% of the people who come use the chairs are over 25.

Dr. Alan Weidner: Mm-hmm.

Michael: And I think that’s a – and it seems like, interestingly, almost the older they are, the more they tend to use it – and that’s just an observation that I’ve made. The more, you know, you don’t get the 18 or 19-year-old coming in very much …

Alan: Right, right.

Michael: But the 25-year-old, the 30-year-old, yeah, they come in.

Alan: What I think’s interesting about what you just said is, even at 25 or 26 years old, that’s still a very young demographic. That is not the typical demographic of a massage-chair user in our business, and so if you’re seeing statistical significance that great, in that young of a demographic, it’d be interesting to know how significant that difference would be in the actual user demographic, which is 45 to 65. And we talked about …

Michael: Oh, it would be.

Alan: And we talked about, you know, breaking down the data you already have, to like, things like different ages, or male versus female, does one sex have a greater statistical significance, or deviation, than another? Or, you know, and another thing I just thought of, while you were talking, Michael, I wonder if a smoker versus a non-smoker, if that would have an effect?

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Alan: Maybe a smoker, who typically, is known to have a higher blood pressure, would a chair lower their blood pressure even more, would it be a greater range?

Michael: Right.

Alan: So, there’s all this kind of extrapolated, these extrapolated ideas that we could pull from this one project that you’ve done, and even refine it more.

Michael: Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of different ways that you could look at the demographics, to separate out, to see what kinds of differences there are. It’s pretty much …

Alan: Wide open?

Michael: Yeah, it is wide open, and however we decide to do it, the opportunity’s there, simply because we have a population that’s going to come in, 40 or 50 people every day …

Alan: Yeah.

Michael: And sit down in the chairs.

Alan: Yeah.

Michael: And so …

Alan: You get data, and I just might add, in addition to what you’re mentioning about your group there, yes, it’s mostly for students, but you also have faculty and staff that come in, so …

Michael: That’s true.

Alan: The pool that you’re pulling your data from is quite a bit more broad than just students, so again, that might kind of muddy the waters a bit as far as the integrity of the data, per demographic. So, you know, we keep mentioning demographics, but boy, I think – I mean, the data that you have already is significant – and now if we could kind of cut it up a little bit in to more specific demographics, I think the data would be just fascinating to see …

Michael: Yeah.

Alan: And there’s lots of room for that, especially with the facility that you have set up there.

Michael: Yeah, I agree.

Alan: Now, you also have – while I was there, I saw that you have biofeedback, I saw that you have a hydro-bed, or you know, like a water-therapy bed, I think you also – don’t you also use essential oils, and you use, I think you already said you use sound therapy. What are some other therapies that you use there in your Wellness Center?

Michael: Well, the – probably, and this may come as an unknown for most people, who watch this – but we have this machine that we call a ‘Chi’ machine, and it’s a little thing that you lie on your back, and it kind of wiggles your ankles back and forth, and we can’t explain why it works, but it’s the second most popular item we have. It’s a distant second from the massage chairs, but we have the same kind of results with the ‘Chi’ machine. We have a nice library, where people can come in and read. We have Vitamin D lights. We like to, we’re strong proponents of the need for Vitamin D, and it’s something we can get through the Vitamin D bulbs. Biofeedback is one of the most interesting ones. The problem with biofeedback, to a certain extent, is it takes quite a little bit of time to run it, and when most people come in, they don’t have 45 minutes, you know, they have 20 minutes, but they don’t have 45 minutes.

Alan: Yeah, I bet.

Michael: We have a terrific audio library, where people can come in and put the headphones on, cover up their eyes, and just either listen to what we call guided relaxation exercises, which is simply – you’ve heard of like progressive relaxation, or guided breathing exercises – well, there’s a whole bundle of those that I made, that students can come in, and they can just kind of, it’s guided meditation. And they could also just come in, put the headphones on, turn off all the sound, and just meditate, if they’d like, as well. So, and we’ve got, also a machine that, you hang upside down, and it kind of lengthens the spine.

Alan: Inversion? Like an inversion table?

Michael: Yeah, we have an inversion table.

Alan: OK, good.

Michael: Let’s see, I’m trying to think what else we have.

Alan: You have those lovely blue walls.

Michael: We do have lovely blue walls. It kind of looks like we’re in the ocean. We have a light therapy, which is similar to the sound therapy, but what it does is you put these eye covers on, close your eyes, and it flashes light in certain patterns, and different sequences. And the idea behind it is it’s supposed to manipulate brain waves to a more relaxing, you know, your theta, and alpha, and beta brainwave states, as opposed to the – excuse me, not beta, but alpha, theta, and delta brainwave states – as opposed to the beta brainwave, which is predominant when we’re awake, and alert, and stressed, and whatnot.

Alan: Yeah.

Michael: So, we haven’t got a way to measure that, we haven’t got an electroencephalogram to actually measure that, but people who use that seem to really like it as well.

Alan: Mm.

Michael: So, we’ve got a few toys. We’re always keeping our eyes open for other things, but so far, we’re really, really happy with what we’re doing now, and there does, I can’t seem to find anything else that would be better than what we have right now.

Alan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: The hydro-bed has become popular for a few people. Some people really, really like it, and not everyone. It’s an interesting, there’s quite a polarity with that particular one.

Alan: Yeah, you either love it, or you hate it.

Michael: Yeah.

Alan: Yeah, that’s how it was with chiropractic.

Michael: Is that right?

Alan: When I was a practitioner, they either loved you, or hated you, it was one or the other, and not many in between.

Michael: Yeah.

Alan: I find it interesting that with your Stress Center that you have so many modalities that you’re using, but still, it’s the massage chairs that are the fan favorite, and seem to be the ones that are driving the statistics, or the data, and I love that. I love that that’s the case, because you know, massage chairs, I sell them, I’ve been in the business for over 10 years, and I’ve known that the chairs are effective. I know, just from doing trade shows, and home shows, and people come to the showroom, I know that it’s been, in some cases, immediate responses with people’s symptomology.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Alan: And you’re not measuring symptomology at all, and that’s something else that we would be able to measure using – you know, I can’t even remember the name of it – the pain scales.

Michael: Yeah, we could.

Alan: But there are a lot of things that can be measured, but I find it fascinating that just using it in a Stress Center, this chair has had that much impact …

Michael: Yeah.

Alan: And we don’t even – we haven’t even scratched the surface yet of what research could bear out about the massage chairs, and I guess that kind of leads me to my next point – oh, and well, anyway, well, this is the thing, and we’ve been kind of beating around the bush the whole time during our conversation, but what Michael and I have decided to do is embark upon a series of research projects to validate, either prove or disprove the anecdotes about massage chairs. And you know, if you read my free report, or my book, you’ll read that massage has been known to benefit, well, blood pressure, pulse, stress, posture, lung capacity, blood flow, you know, circulation, muscle tension, muscle spasm, all these things that we say that massage does, that we know that massage can do, or most of it, and we’re taking that data and we’re shifting over to the massage chairs, and saying that that’s what massage chairs do. Well, like Michael said, it’s anecdotal at best. It’s pretty much just people’s experience, saying ‘Yeah, this is what I felt, and this is what I think, and this is what I derived from my experience on a chair.’ Well, we’re going to go out and try to prove that, with research studies. So, Michael and I, over the last few weeks, have been discussing a plan, and getting the right kind of people on board for doing the data collection, for providing the massage chairs, of course, for tabulating all the data, and then turning it in to a particular research project, and then submitting them for publication. But you know, when I was talking to Michael, I was just giddy, I felt like a little kid, I was so excited about the prospect of this, because like I said, I said this has not been done in our industry. Our industry, you know, Human Touch is the oldest massage chair companies, I think, in the United States, and they’re 35 years old, or just over 35. That’s not very old, for a field.

Alan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: And so, we are kind of pioneering a lot of – most of the things we do with massage chairs is in the pioneer stage – and so, these studies, I mean, my heavens, I started listing all these things, and I just wanted to read to you some of the possibilities. We don’t know yet if we can get the equipment to do this, or if we have the resources to do it, but imagine if we could measure things like, body chemistry, like cortisol or endorphins, before and after a massage chair. Lung capacity, I mean, I have heard customers tell me that they can breathe deeper after they sit on a massage chair. Well, is that really legit, or is that just, they think that’s how they feel?

Michael: Right.

Alan: We can maybe measure lung capacity, or sleep monitoring. Many people tell me that they sleep better when they sit on their massage chair regularly. Well, is that true? Can we do a sleep study? Muscle tightness and muscle spasm, well, we can use EMGs …

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Alan: Whether they’re surface EMGs, or invasive EMGs, is there a way that we can measure muscle activity during, before, during, and after a massage chair session? What about range of motion? I remember we went on TV here locally to demonstrate a chair, and the guy that we were demonstrating it on was a golfer, so we measured his range of motion on a rotation, you know, for the golf motion. We measured rotation to the right, and to the left, before a massage chair session, and after a massage chai session, and that one guy had a 35% improvement in his range of motion.

Michael: Yeah.

Alan: Now, that’s not really a study, it’s kind of an anecdote, but it was a very small sample size, but could we measure that in a larger sample size? What about circulation? Is there a way to measure circulation? What about posture? Blood sugar? What about, you know, muscle activity in the glutes, using airbags in the traditional massage chair, or the new L-track, extended roller tracks, that actually get down there and massage with rollers, is there a difference in the muscle tension? And Michael, you brought up some other ideas with your machines there, we could measure skin temperature, and level of perspiration, heart variability, I mean, the list goes on and on. We can measure, like we were talking about, smoker versus non-smoker, different age groups, different sexes. We could measure how long, maybe we could measure how long the benefits last after a session is over, like OK, your blood pressure is down, well, how long is that good for? Is it good for a day? Is it good for an hour?

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Alan: The next time they come in, is their blood pressure less overall? It might still be above where it was the day before – their blood pressure might be higher the next day than it was when they finished the massage chair session the previous day – but is it, the next day, a lower blood pressure to begin with? So, there’s all these things that we could measure, and so I’m very excited to say that – and Michael’s excited to say that about this too – because this kind of also validates the whole reason behind his Stress Center.

Michael: Sure.

Alan: And so, we’re going to be starting, first of all, taking the data that you have, and turning that in to a study, but then, breaking it down in to more specific studies, and creating a series of studies for the massage chair industry, and I am just so excited about this. And Michael, if I’ve missed anything, you know, go ahead and chime in.

Michael: I think you covered it well. I’m similarly excited, and I think the good news is of a – you know, anecdotally or research based, we’re helping people, you know – and if we can continue moving in that direction, you know, that’s just a good thing. And no matter what happens, we’re helping – I mean, the findings will show that we are helping people with their well being – and bottom line, that’s what we’re all about anyway, and so that’s exciting, that’s real exciting to me.

Alan: Well, I’m glad that we – I mean, I’m kind of embarrassed that we’ve had this relationship for 5 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever actually thought that we could do something together – but I could not be more excited to work with you on this, I’m pretty fired up. I just announced the opening of our second store just this week, or last week, in Southern California, and I got to tell you, the excitement of this research project rivals the excitement of opening a second store, I am just very excited about this. It’s not just because I get to do research, it’s because we get to do something that will benefit this industry …

Michael: Yeah.

Alan: It’ll benefit the consumers who are out looking for something that’ll help them with whatever their pain or stress complaint is. We’re actually doing something for an industry that is lacking significantly in this field. You know, it’s just a bunch of massage chair manufacturing companies, a bunch of massage chair distributors, and a bunch of massage chair retailers, that’s pretty much our industry …

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Alan: And now, we are going to open a whole new can of worms, if you will, with these research projects that just may – well, not may – this will definitely be the precursor to, maybe an entire field, related to massage chair research. I don’t know, but I’m sure there will be certain companies that will want to get involved with it, certain massage chair companies, maybe other schools, I don’t know, but I’m just really fired up about this, and I’m really glad to have you on board to do this.

Michael: It’s my pleasure.

Alan: Well, I think that’s about it, unless you can think of something else that we haven’t touched on, but that’s what I wanted people to hear. I don’t know how long this interview has lasted. Well, it’s been about 37 minutes. We might have to cut it in to 2 parts, so we don’t lose those of us that have ADD, or whatever that’s called, or can’t sit through a 40-minute interview. But thank you so very, very much for being here, Michael, today, and being so available to chitchat. And you and I, and the other two researchers, will be meeting Friday to discuss, kind of working out a plan of attack, for these projects over the immediate future. So, I’m really looking forward to that, but thank you so very much, Michael, I really appreciate you being here.

Michael: You’re very welcome. It’s my pleasure.

Alan: OK, have a good day.

Michael: You too.

Alan: See you Friday.

Michael: OK, bye bye.

Alan: Bye.

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