Self Care for Massage Therapists
Self care techniques for massage therapists, such as regular self-massage, is easier to understand and incorporate into our daily routines if we understand the common causes of injuries that massage therapists face and how best to avoid them.
One of the most important things to do to avoid serious injury is to treat symptoms early. Pain, numbness, tingling or burning are symptoms that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
You should also try to pinpoint if the way you work, your lack of self-care, or a combination of both are causing your pain. Other risk factors may include your home life, hobbies, physical activities, or other jobs.
Self massage techniques, drinking water and eating healthy foods are critical for massage therapy practitioners.
Remember, that what works for one person in preventing or treating injury does not work for everyone.
This is a great article by Marybetts Sinclair, LMT, who is a massage therapy instructor specializing in infant massage, pediatric massage, and self-care for the massage therapist.
by: Marybetts Sinclair, LMT
Bodyworkers use their upper extremities intensively every day and must do regular self massage to prepare for their work or to recuperate from it, to avoid repetitive stress injuries.
Causes of common massage-related repetitive strain injuries:
The therapist sees too many clients, gives overly long sessions, has little or no breaks between sessions, or does not have a consistent workload (that is, sees no clients for 5 days, then sees many clients the next day).
2. Poor body mechanics
The therapist does not know proper use of the body, (such as using body weight and leverage rather than muscle strength or varying the surfaces of the body used to apply pressure), the massage table is at the wrong height, causing stressful or awkward positioning, the therapist is massaging in a cramped space, or the massage technique is not matched with the therapist's body type.
3. The therapist is not conditioned
The therapist has weak muscles, has chronic muscle tightness in the upper extremities, or has poor general health. One common way massage therapists become injured is by being gone for some time for vacation or other reasons, then coming back to a few days of intensive massage as they make up for lost time and income. Unless they have kept up their muscle strength while they are gone, injury is a distinct possibility.
4. The therapist does not do any self care for him/her self
The massage athlete needs to take care of the upper extremities before and after sessions. A long-distance runner with sore feet may need to stretch the muscles of the feet and legs, perform self massage and/or ice massage, or take an Epsom salts foot soak or a contrast leg bath: the massage athlete is no different.
Ways to avoid injury
It is vital for massage therapists to know not only specific strategies to avoid injuries, but methods for incorporating this care into a massage practice. Each therapist will come up with a combination of methods, but some of the most useful ones are stretching exercises, muscle strengthening exercises, stress management, hydrotherapy treatments, and specific, targeted self-massage using massage tools. In addition, good work habits are key to taking good care of yourself.
Article Written by:
Marybetts Sinclair, LMT
Marybetts Sinclair offers a class on injury prevention for massage therapists, titled “Self Care for the Upper Extremities”.
Body Mechanics for Manual Therapists teaches great self care tips and techniques for massage therapy professionals on how to avoid long-term muscle damage, and still have a long career in the massage profession.
Developing a more holistic health lifestyle might also give you the ability to discover practical, powerful tools to not only take better care of yourself now, but to also live a longer life.
Learn more self care techniques and strategies for your body, and enjoy the benefits of a life long massage therapy career.
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