working smart and hard


Working smarter not harder should be anyone’s goal regardless of what business you are in. That’s because working smarter makes you more efficient and productive. When it comes to jobs that are physical, such as massage therapy, working smarter means avoiding injuries to muscles and tendons so that you are more effective when it comes to treating clients.  Working smarter also means following best practices for time management so that you get more done in less time, especially now when the pressure is on.

Avoid injury through proper working solutions

As a hard-working massage therapist, you probably love healing others and are fascinated by the complexity of the human body. But massage therapy is a physically demanding job and there are a number of injuries that are common to professionals in the field, among them tenosynovitis, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, and overuse syndrome. Such conditions are the result of repeated or forceful bending of a limb or joint, overuse and/or repetitive motion.

Make sure that you have the proper workspace to avoid injury. Have enough space around your table so that you can move comfortably and maintain good body mechanics. Also, make sure your table height is appropriate to support good posture. A higher table translates to less low-back bending and a more normal wrist angle. lower massage table heights force you to bend over more, which move your center of gravity forward and increases stress on your lower back.

During the massage, one of the best working solutions is to use your weight instead of muscular force to engage the tissue. Using muscular force, or pushing into the tissue, is not only exhausting, it runs the risk of working too deep. When you drop your body weight onto the tissue, you’ll naturally sink to the first layer of tight tissue. As that layer releases, you’ll sink to the next layer of tight tissue. Working layer by layer in this way provides a deep massage experience without being painful for the client or too strenuous for you.[1]

As you evaluate a client’s needs, try to choose treatment forms that require less stress on your hands and fingers. Also try to work more with your forearms, since they are more durable than hands, fingers and thumbs. If possible, reserve your hands for massaging delicate areas - head, face, fingers and toes.[2]

Consider the use of tools to expand to help enhance the treatment and minimize repetitive motion and electrical massage tools such as percussive and infrared massage apply constant vibration and heat to sore spots. Variable speed massagers apply consistent pressure on a client’s problem areas. Simple, but practical manual massage tool, such as balls, rollers, thumb tools, handheld massage tools, hot stone massage tools, can augment your capabilities.[3]

Also, remember to stretch between clients. Stretching lengthens soft tissues and taut soft tissues limit motion. Stretching can help to reverse this process and, even better, can prevent soft tissues from becoming taut in the first place.[4] You also want to alternate between standing and sitting during sessions. Standing is fatiguing to your leg muscles and lower back. Sitting allows you to rest your legs but it also can put strain on your lower back.

Practice good time management

Good time management skills are also important to working smarter. Review your operations to make sure that you are maximizing performance. Some time management tips include:

Have a weekly goal: Choose one big goal each week to achieve and don’t focus your energy on less important things.

Stop checking email: Checking email can keep you from doing more important things. Time management experts suggest checking email four to five times a day but never first thing in the morning, since it can throw you off from what you need to do.

Cut down on meetings: Reduce the number of meetings you have with your team or with vendors and other associates.  Try to accomplish more at the ones you do.  If you have a team meeting, provide everyone with advance information so that you can come to more decisions sooner.

Outsource: You may already be outsourcing your information technology to a consultant. Think about other operational functions you could outsource to free up your time and save you money in the long run, such as marketing and human resources. HR people can help with hiring and onboarding new employees.

Leverage technology: Consider online booking software, for example, to cut down on time spent scheduling and rescheduling appointments. Today there is a wide range of offerings for online booking software, many of them that are cloud-based – that is, you don’t need to acquire any software to run on your computers. You access the booking software from a browser and pay a subscription fee, which varies between providers.  Some of the offerings start out as a free trial so you can decide if you are satisfied with the service before you buy.

Take breaks: Prevent burnout by taking breaks. That includes taking your vacation, periodic mental health days and even getting away for a half hour to get a cup of coffee or lunch.


Putting in long hours may be needed at times, but for the most part avoiding injuries and getting the most out of the day through good time management are what’s really needed for the success of your spa or massage practice.


[1] Auth, Shari, “The More You Know: Massage Therapists Can Work Smarter, Not Harder,” American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), August 15, 2012.
[2] Auth, Shari, “The More You Know: Massage Therapists Can Work Smarter, Not Harder”
[3] Rothstein, A., “Massage Therapy: Tools of the Trade,” Minnesota School of Cosmetology, November 20, 2018.
[4] Muscolino, Joe, “Feel the Stretch,” AMTA, June 21,2020.
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