Listen to your body. According to Lauriann Greene and Richard W. Goggins, authors of “Save Your Hands!,” a musculoskeletal disorder to the upper extremity due to overuse or overexertion is the most common injury among massage therapists. “These injuries typically occur from a combination of repetitive motions, forceful hand exertions and awkward postures, such as reaching too far forward or bending the wrists,” the authors explain.
>>> What can you do? Greene and Goggins suggest that the most important thing for new massage therapists is to build endurance slowly. “Achieve endurance through physical conditioning and gradually increasing the amount of massage work they do,” they say. Studies suggest that endurance, not strength, is more important for preventing injury.
They also suggest using a variety of modalities instead of depending on only one. “New therapists would also be helped by learning more than one way to work on a muscle or condition,” they explain.
Manage stress. Looking for an employment position in the massage therapy profession, trying to start your own practice, graduating from school—there are a number of things that might be weighing on your mind, increasing your stress levels. Finding a way to relax, though, is an absolute must.
>>> What can you do? First, you actually write time to yourself into your schedule so you can self assess where you are and unwind any pressure you might feel. So many times, massage therapists are entirely client focused, letting attention to their own needs and well-being fall to the bottom of the priority list. “Reserve a little of your attention for yourself,” suggest Greene and Goggins.
You might also try doing an electronic and news fast, purposely unplugging for a little while from your smartphone and the news of the day. Today, the expectation to be connected and available 24/7 can be overwhelming. Slow down and take five, 10 or 20 minutes to just sit in silence. Or, go outside and get moving by taking a brisk 30-minute walk.
Build community. Feeling like you’re not alone or have others to lean on can make a big difference when you’re just starting out in the massage therapy profession. Spending time with those you love, as well as other massage therapists who understand your professional goals and challenges, can be huge in terms of your success.
>>> What you can do? Connect with other massage therapists in your local AMTA chapter on a regular basis to share challenges you’re facing, discuss general client treatment, as well as any business-related issues you might need help with.
Additional resources. Check out these stories from past issues of Massage Therapy Journal, AMTA’s quarterly publication: Don’t Get Sidelined and Drawing a Line.
Massage Therapy Journal is just one of the great benefits you’ll receive when you upgrade to Graduate membership.