Living Well: Recharge Your Commitment, Practice and Passion


Recharge Your Commitment: Protect Yourself from Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common and complex symptoms clients suffer from, and can be triggered by almost anything, from an improperly adjusted office chair to lifting a heavy object improperly. Although low back pain is typically associated with industrial workers due to heavy lifting and nurses or paramedics due to frequent patient handling, a 2006 study published in Occupational Ergonomics found massage therapists are at high risk for musculoskeletal disorders if they are required to maintain awkward static postures for a significant amount of time. 

The study was conducted by the Kinesiology faculty at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada in association with the Applied Health Sciences faculty at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, to investigate the biomechanical demands on the low backs of massage therapists performing common massage therapy techniques. 

Ten massage therapist consisting of eight women and two men ( the proportion of gender is reflective of that present in massage therapy) were videotaped by two video cameras to capture angels of their posture as they each administered a standardized 44-minute general relaxation back massage. 

The study found that during the 44-minute relaxation massage, the massage therapists employed a non-neutral trunk, arms and shoulder posture 50 percent, 70 percent and 60 percent of the time, respectively. The massage therapists spent the most time in non-neutral postures during massage stripping and effleurage. These non-neutral postures occurred despite the fact that the massage therapists practiced proper body mechanics, including table heights that were 40-43 percent of their standing height. 

You work hard to relieve your clients of pain and you work even harder to make sure your body is excellent working condition.Practing good back health is one of the many ways to ensure your practive remains consistent and effective for years to come. Increase your core and back stength with isometric exercise and deep breathing. Isometric exercises isolate specific muscles and muscle groups and help maintain strength, which can be particularly helpful when looking for ways to protect your low back. Deep breathing may help alleviate stress and reduce muscle tension. 

Need some help taking care of your back? Scroll down, where you'll find a variety of exercises aimed at helping you enhance both your strength and endurance! 

Always remember to consult your doctor before doing any exercises for back pain. 

Exercises for a Healthy Lower Back

Partical crunches:  

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your hands underneath your head and keep your elbows wide. Contract and tighten abdominal muscles to bring your shoulders off the ground. Hold for a single breath. Be sure to keep your lower back firm against the floor and your elbows so wide you cannot see them from the corner of your eyes. > Repeat 8–12 times.

Pelvic tilts:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet fl at on the ground. Tighten your stomach and pull your belly button into your spine. You should feel your back pressing into the floor and your pelvis and hips rocking back. Hold for 10 seconds. > Repeat 8–12 times.

Press-up back extensions:

Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push up with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. It it’s comfortable for you, put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for 5 seconds.

Bridges:

Lie on your back with knees bent and heels on the floor. Push your heels into the floor and be sure your big toe is lifted up off the floor. Tighten your glutes, and lift your hips off the floor until shoulders, hips and knees are aligned. Hold for 6 seconds and slowly lower hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Avoid arching of the lower back by tightening your abdominal muscles throughout lift. > Repeat 8–12 times.

Bird dog:

This is a great move that strengthens the core, abs, lower back and glutes—all while improving balance. Start on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are directly beneath your shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you simultaneously lift one leg off the ground, extending your toes to the back of the room. Keep your hips square and lift the opposite arm, reaching out toward the front of the room. Keep your head in neutral position. Hold for 5 seconds and then switch.> Repeat 8–12 times for each limb. Be sure to lengthen your limbs with each lift, reach beyond your toes and fingers.

Knee to chest: 

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Bring one knee to your chest and keep the other foot flat on the ground. Keep lower back firm against the floor and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, lower your knee and repeat with the other leg.> Repeat 2–4 times for each leg.

Morning breathing:

Try this exercise in the morning after you wake up to relieve muscle stiffness and clear breathing passages. From a standing position, bend from the waist forward with your knees slightly bent. Wrap your hands around your elbows to pull your body weight forward as much as possible. Inhale slowly and deeply, lifting your body slowly one vertebrae at a time. Your head should be the last to come up. Pause when you are standing upright and hold your breath for a few seconds. > Repeat 2 times.

Recharge Your Practice: Getting the Job

Your resume and cover letter: Did you know as an AMTA member you have free unlimited access to the AMTA Job Bank? The AMTA Job Bank features several hundred job openings across the country. Whether you're looking to practice in a spa, health care environment, or franchise, one thing is consistently true: you need a professional resume that catches the interest of employers. 

We checked in with Diane Lazcano, the human resource manager at AMTA, to discuss what employers look for and what to do when you land the interview. We also reviewed The Business of Massage: The Complete Guide to Establishing Your Massage Career to get insider tips on the best practices when writing resumes. Whether you are a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, it's always a good idea to keep your resume updated with the specific information employers look for.

Resume

Letterhead

Your resume and cover letter should always have the same header at the top of the page, and always include your name, address, telephone number and email address. 

A general rule of thumb is to list any credentials you've earned after your name especially if they're relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Objective

Summarize your strengths and skills and the type of position you are seeking. 

Ex: A massage therapist position with a professional, client centered therapeutic company where i can utilize my training and skills. 
 

Qualification

In this section, using abbreviations such as LMT are great when you communicating with your peers and especially at the professional level. Provide a list of your credentials, including your state license if you practice in a state with regulations. You'll also want to include your professional memberships, as well as a description of the modalities you are qualified to practice.

Using the terminology of credentials can be tricky, but can separate the novice from the professional. Here are some examples of corrects usage: 

  • "The school I attended is accredited." 
  • "I am licensed in my state."

Education

In this section, you can list the schools you have attended, the number of hours/credits taken, and any workshops or seminars you have attended that are relevant to the position you are applying for. 

Work Experience

Here, you should list relevant employers. List the name of the employer, dates of employment, short description of job, as well as anything about that experience that pertains to the position you are seeking. List these jobs from most recent to oldest. 

Awards and Affiliations 

Don't be shy about your accomplishments. List your membership in a professional association and any awards or professional-related affiliations. Joining a professional association like AMTA is a great way to show your commitment and dedication to the profession.
 

The Basics to Writing a Professional Cover Letter

The digital age of email, social media and the Internet has changed how many companies do business. A lot of businesses are cutting down on paper use and waste, and so many employers are asking candidates to send resumes via email. Although email may seem like an informal way to communicate with employers, you still need to showcase your professionalism.

A resume should always include a cover letter. The cover letter is your opportunity to show your personality and professionalism. A good cover letter is what gives prospective employers the incentive to look at your resume, so make sure it’s free of error and highlights the skills the employer has indicated are important.

Letter Head

Include your name, address, telephone number and email address.

The Date

 

Second Header

Employer's name, company and address

Salutation

Greet your prospective employer appropriately. Make sure to do your research and find a name to address the letter to. "To Whom It May Concern" is not the best way to start off a cover letter. 

Body

A cover letter typically consists of only three paragraphs: the introduction, body and close. 

  • The introduction  states who you are, your purpose for writing, the position you wish to attain and anything pertaining to the position that would interest the employer. If you have been referred by someone, think about mentioning it in the first paragraph. 
  • The body is the second paragraph. Explain why you're the best suited for the position. Describe your skills in a way that is both interesting to the employer and would help promote business. 
  • The close is your final paragraph. Remind the employer of your interest in the position, and any attachments you may have enclosed within the email. Then thank the reader for their time and interest, and promise for future contact.

Valediction

Include your name, address, telephone number and email address. 

Sincerely, 
Margaret Jo Reed, LMT
123 Somewhere Street
Anywhere, USA 
123.555.1111
mreed@mymassage.com

It is critical to remember when writing your cover letter for any job that you personalize it with information pertaining to that specific employer. If you are applying for a position in an integrative health care setting, consider mentioning your experience working with clients who are cancer survivors, for example. Or, if applying for a sports-related position, mention your expertise in sports massage.
 
Finally, you are ready to copy and paste your cover letter into the body of the email. Be sure to include your name and the position you are inquiring about in the subject of the email. “Remember to sell yourself, and be able to articulate the modalities you specialize in,” says Lazcano. “When I interview, I look for eye contact, articulation and conversation flow.”It’s always good to do your homework on a company. Research their mission and whether or not they have done any charity work that you admire and might be able to mention in your interview. Speak confidently about yourself and your skills so prospective employers know what you have to offer.

 

Recharge Your Passion: Continuing Education Courses Online

Consumers of massage therapy do not buy a product, but a service they believe will benefit them. Your clients expect you to have comprehensive knowledge of the human body and massage therapy. And continuing education is an important way for you to keep your knowledge up-to-date and relevant, so you can keep your clients coming back.

Whether you are a sole practitioner or work in spa, franchise or health care facility, it’s important to know the latest trends in the massage therapy profession, as well as pursue more in-depth knowledge of the modalities, techniques and client populations you are working with.

AMTA’s online courses have been upgraded to address the continuing education needs of today’s busy massage therapists. Completing your courses online provides you the option of learning at your own pace on a flexible schedule. Choose from a number of courses in various massage modalities, client populations, business,self care, ethics, teaching and much more. As a massage therapist you have made a commitment to yourself and your clients. Pride yourself on being a lifelong student of massage therapy, and the benefits of your extensive knowledge will be reaped by your clients as well as your thriving practice.
 

Learning Online

AMTA understands how important continuing education is to you and your clients, and we want to help make the process of getting, and reporting, continuing education credits as simple as possible so you can focus on what you love—massage therapy and learning.

Remember, all you have to do is just log on to AMTA’s website to view your continuing education credits and/or add a class. Should you have any questions or problems regarding your classes, just call AMTA and we will be ready to assist you. If you live in Florida, Mississippi or Louisiana, AMTA will report the credits you have taken with AMTA to your state site so they are applied toward your continuing education requirements.

43 of the 50 states—including the District of Columbia—regulate massage therapy and continuing education requirements in some way. Every state varies, so you need to confirm with your state board regarding the continuing education requirements.

 
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"As a professional member of AMTA, I have found comfort in knowing that all the effort I put into obtaining my massage certification is recognized and protected. AMTA standards validate the profession."

Kim K., AMTA member since 2003

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