Massage therapy is a very physical job and far too many therapists are experiencing pain and burn out that is totally avoidable. Massage does not have to be hard on your body or be a short career.
The thing is that when you don’t take care of your body or your body mechanics when you are working you end up short changing your income year after year.
The good news is that with some simple corrections you can change things so that you can treat with far less effort and extend your career many years. You invested a lot of time and effort into your training so why not get the most return on investment.
Massage Therapists aren’t miracle workers!
The first thing to cut out of your practice to extend your career is trying to fix years of pain in one session. Your client likely did not get to this point overnight, so it is crazy to think that you can fix it in one or two sessions. When you give this up, you stop over extending yourself and this leads to better outcomes for the client as well since you are less likely to over treat during each session.
A better solution to this for you and for your client is to map out a treatment plan that allows you to make the changes in a time frame that gives the body time to adjust without post massage soreness. You always have the option to look at that treatment plan and tweak it along the way according to their progress. This is a gentler and more effective method for client recovery, and then you get to position yourself as an expert and to steer the treatments.
Try to avoid unnecessary heavy lifting
The second thing to cut out is lifting whenever possible. I have been a big advocate of the removal of what I call “diaper draping” for the leg. The big reason is that when I see therapists in my workshops using this method they are straining to lift the leg and all of them are in an awkward position to do it. This is not necessary once you have passed your licensing exam and your back will thank you for letting it go. Each time you lift, you are at risk for low back injury which can cost you huge in lost earning hours.
In my courses I show people the fold method of draping the leg that I was taught in school. It is just as secure for the client and is way easier on your body. You fold the sheet so that it uncovers most of the o leg (just the one you are treating), then fold it over again and tuck under the same leg (this is about ¾ up the inner thigh) and in at the ASIS (pelvis). This allows you access to the upper thigh and glut area (tuck into the underwear if needed) and stops that annoying sheet rolling back down on you and getting in your way. As a client I can assure you that this method is way more comfortable and feels just as secure.
For a sample of what to expect in my Body Mechanics for Massage Workshop (available in our on-line shop @ wholebodyhealing.com), check out this video clip!
YOU are your most important client
The third big thing to give up is the habit of putting yourself last. You are the main equipment in your practice. If you were running a machine and wanted to make sure it was going to last. You would do regular maintenance. You would not expect that machine to run past the peak levels it is capable of or expect it to run without any downtime. When you treat your body like the valuable piece of equipment that you are going to get a long term use out of then you will treat it differently.
I love to get therapists to think in terms of being a Massage Athlete. As such you want to have cross training fitness that you do and you want to eat such that you support your nutritional needs. Yoga and Pilates are two of my favs for RMT training, and if you are a keener then adding in some aerobic activity is fantastic.
When it comes to food, you will do well to consider scheduling breaks that allow you time to not only eat but also digest what you have eaten. Remember that the body needs 20 min to move the food from the stomach into the intestines and then more time to extract the nutrients from there. When you rush out and start working right away your body diverts energy from digestion so you can use your muscles, thus depriving you of nutrients. Book off an hour for lunch or dinner breaks and sit and relax after eating – pretend you are in France and let your body do what it needs to.
You may also want to add in some quality supplements like Magnesium and B complex to support your Massage Athlete body at optimal levels (feel free to consult a professional for a more comprehensive look at your needs).
Remember… Self care = increased income!
Make your personal care a priority both in and out of the massage room and I promise you will earn more money.
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