Being a massage therapist is a very giving profession. Clients seek relaxation services to reduce stress; others suffer from injuries and other health conditions that limit their physical activity and mobility. At the same time, being a massage therapist is a physically demanding job. Not only are you on your feet a good part of the day, performing work on client muscles and joints is fatiguing and puts you at risk for incurring repetitive strain injuries. That’s why following best practices on the job to ensure you prevent injuries and have the stamina to get through the day is very important.
Care for yourself on the job
While you want to make sure to get enough sleep, eat the right foods, and take time to decompress by doing things you enjoy, there are things you need to do while working to ensure you are in top form.
Create the appropriate workspace: Have enough space around your table so you can move comfortably and maintain good body mechanics. Make sure your table height is appropriate to support good posture.
Protect hands and wrists: Preventing injury to your hands and wrists is of the utmost importance in your ability to continue to care for clients. A self-care regimen for hands and wrists, according to the AMTA, should include warm-up stretches before you begin work; using effort-sparing tools; spacing your workload, and using ice, heat, and other anti-inflammatory measures.
Practice good posture: You are on your feet a good part of the day, so it’s important to strengthen your core and lower back to maintain good posture. Check out these exercises from Princeton University.
Alternate between standing and sitting: Standing is fatiguing to your leg muscles and lower back. Sitting allows you to rest your legs, but it also can put a strain on your lower back. In “Alternate Sitting and Standing as You Work,” Lauriann Greene suggests that you try to sit at least one-fourth of the time during any treatment session to avoid fatigue.
Take breaks Take breaks between sessions to unwind, stretch and catch up on some other duties, like checking calls and emails.
Mind your breathing: Using your breath is important for balancing and centering your body and for ease and fluidity of movement. The AMTA advises that you take a few deep breaths by inhaling through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Also, make sure to breathe throughout the session or when you feel tension or pain in your body.
Stay hydrated: Your cells, organs, and tissues all need water to function properly and regulate proper temperature. Since you lose water throughout the day by breathing, sweating, and digestion, drink fluids and eat foods that contain water to rehydrate.
And don’t forget those regular massages for you. That’s the advice you give to clients. And you know what you are talking about.