Massage is important to a lot of us. For those who get treated by massage, it is a way for us to relax; it is a way for us to find a happy well-being. It can also be a way for us to reach our physical peak and repair our broken bodies. For those of us who treat instead of get treated, it is a way of life, a hobby and an obsession. It is also often a career.
For those of us who practice massage, professionally or as an amateur it is clear that massage is very important to us. The more massages we perform a day the happier, more experienced and better off we will be. In short, massage is often crucial to our well-being and career.
It is for this reason that you need to look after yourself as a massage therapist. All too often a person performing a service will neglect themselves in favour of the person they are helping and this can be said of massage.
As relaxing and physically beneficial it is for the client or friend, it can be damaging and harmful to the therapist.
The risks to the massage therapist
Anyone who has ever received or given a massage will know that the form of therapy can be physically and even emotionally demanding. There is a very real risk of burnout, injury and fatigue if the therapist isn’t properly prepared.
You can overuse your hands, wrists and thumbs. You can damage your back. You can damage your neck and shoulders. You can even suffer from emotional and mental burnout. Sometimes the fact that you are working by yourself and only really seeing clients and not your friends or family can get to you.
How to avoid the damage
Avoiding physical or mental damage as a massage therapist is crucial to the longevity of your career and your ability to perform more massages. There are various problems you can encounter but luckily there are various solutions;
Use different techniques and programmes –
If you use the same technique day in, day out you will encounter problems. The stress this will cause on your body will cause physical damage. Also be aware of the types of massage you are performing and the techniques you are using. Some are harder on the joints than others; some like hot and cold stone massages are almost more efficient than traditional techniques. Not only that but you are also likely to get bored of your work and suffer mental fatigue.
It is important that you mix it up a bit and use different techniques which are lighter on the body, and you avoid using the same stuff over and over and over again.
Watch your posture and body mechanics –
As with many things in life, bad posture and poor technique can cause problems. As a massage therapist poor posture might give you neck and back pain, it may also mean you are applying pressure to areas of your hands and wrists too often. To avoid this it is really important to get the correct height for your massage table and ensure the positioning of your body follows good form.
Poor mechanics can also cause a host of problems. Just like going to the gym and using the weights apparatus incorrectly, performing massage therapy incorrectly can cause quite a few problems for the therapist.
To avoid causing yourself pain and damage during massage sessions it is important that you use your body weight to apply pressure and not your muscles. You also need to ensure you are trained properly and thoroughly to provide you with the knowledge and skill to protect yourself and to make sure you aren’t twisting and turning when you shouldn’t be.
Recognise the problems and react –
Have good knowledge of the symptoms of the problems you might face and you will be able to act. You can spot a problem developing and change your programme for a few days or weeks while your problem area rests and recovers. It is a simple solution. Another good idea would be to set up a great support network of family, friends and colleagues in the industry. If things are becoming too much with you or if you fee isolated, you can use the support network to help you through it.
There are many problems you can encounter with massage therapy, from the physical to the mental. It is important you look after yourself, that you don’t overdo it and perform too many massages in too short a period of time. It is important you keep fit, healthy and knowledgeable in your field. It is important you can spot any problems in advance and know how to react.
If you do all that, you should be able to prevent injury or fatigue and be able to perform more massages in the long run.