We all went to school to learn the practice of massage and they taught us well the benefits of proper body mechanics, but the first day of working in the real world might leave you a little sore. It’s not necessarily a bad kind of sore, but it’s still there. If you lunged all day long, pretending your instructor was behind you and ready to note poor posture if you got lazy, then you probably realized just how much a massage therapist uses his or her legs to prevent back injury at work. But after a long day of massages, week after week, the toll can start to wear in other places as well IF you’re not careful.
Stretch, stretch, and, um, stretch
You will be amazed what a difference this can make. Grasp your fingertips and gently pull them towards your body, both up and down, to keep wrists from getting tight—IN BETWEEN EVERY CLIENT! Okay, I’ll stop shouting now. But I’m serious. If you don’t do the little things that literally take two minutes, you’ll wind up with a big thing. You don’t want the big thing because it may prevent you from working one day. Stretch your legs and arms too because you use your entire body.
Don’t get lazy!
If you have more than a couple minutes between clients, do some yoga in your treatment room to keep yourself flexible and pumped with blood and energy. When we get tired, we’re more likely to slump over the client and begin to form bad habits. These bad habits lead to problems down the road. If you treat yourself like you would your client, then you’ll find working as a massage therapist also keeps you in shape and healthy.
Find a tennis ball and give yourself a massage
Literally. Put the ball on the ground and rest on top of it or lean against a wall and slowly dig into tight muscles on your back. My trouble area became my shoulders when I was massaging 4 or 5 people a day and I preferred to lean against the wall. I found I had more control over the ball and it seriously turned my day around. Whenever I got lazy and forgot to stand up straight, stretch or use the tennis ball on my muscles, I paid dearly. When I did it all, I felt amazing. That’s the perk of not having a desk job, right?
Trade with other CMTs for massages
Enough said. We’re always going on about how people need massages to our clients, so let’s practice what we preach. Plus, it’s a wonderful reminder about how wonderfully wonderful massage is.
Don’t schedule the same types of massage in one day
If you can, don’t schedule four Swedish massages in one day. Instead, schedule one Thai, one Deep Tissue, one Swedish and one Hot Stone. That’s quite a reach, but if you know certain clients prefer certain modalities, try to arrange accordingly. The reason being, you won’t use your hands the exact same way all day long. Performing Deep Tissue, despite the idea that the work is deeper, can actually be easier on your body than performing Swedish because you use your elbows and forearms. With good posture, this is easier than palpating someone’s tough muscle tissue with your fingers. So break up a day of Swedish Massage with some Deep Tissue and give your little fingers a break!
Take a hot bath or visit the hot tub
I know it sounds silly that I even need to say “Hey! Sitting in hot water after work feels good!” but it’s also beneficial. Assuming you’re not injured (in which case, the heat will cause more inflammation), this will get your blood pumping and encourage your body to release any tension as you relax. Do this after digging into tight muscles with your tennis ball or foam roller or after receiving a massage from a co-worker and you’ll be one happy camper.