Starting a new career as a massage therapist is exciting and sometimes challenging. It is common to let enthusiasm turn into doing too much too soon. Massage therapy is a career that demands a great deal both physically and mentally; massage therapists tend to have backaches, sore wrists and shoulders, and neck pain. It is important to not only take care of your clients, but to make sure you take care of yourself as well. Implementing a self-care regimen is a necessity that will save you and your body the aches and pains that can come with massage therapy.
Self-care is a term that covers a range of topics, such as ergonomics, body mechanics, injury prevention, and physical and mental wellness. It is important to spend time addressing each of these areas of self-care to keep your health at the top of your priority list.
Ergonomics refers to the interaction you have with your work. This includes the space you work in, the equipment you use, and the physical and mental demands of your job. The goal of ergonomics is to design a workplace that suits you and your needs to give you a feeling of comfort while you work. For example, having enough space around your massage table to maneuver and setting your table at a suitable height for your stature will help avoid back, shoulder, and arm pain. Good ergonomics is the foundation of good body mechanics.
Body mechanics is about positioning your body and using movement patterns in the most efficient way to accomplish the task at hand. When you are just starting out as a massage therapist, you are probably focusing more on the techniques and not necessarily on your body mechanics. Be conscious of your posture and stance, and gradually increase the amount of work you are doing to avoid over-stressing your body.
Even with the best practice of ergonomics and body mechanics, there is still the risk of injury if you overuse your body. Necks will be sore from looking down at the table, backs will ache from bending over too far and too often, wrists will tire from repetitive motions. Take the time to learn about treatment techniques to both strengthen your muscles while avoiding overuse. Getting a regular massage yourself is also important to your self-care plan to relieve soreness and provide a chance to relax for emotional relief. Combining all these tactics is the most effective way to maintain your body’s physical and mental health, and lead you into a long and successful career.