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I need your help for an upcoming article in Massage & Bodywork magazine!

I'd love your input--what are the best tips you'd give to a new practitioner to ensure a long, injury-free career? How do you make sure you're in tune with your body so that you're able to provide others with the work they need to keep their bodies in good shape? What exercises, body mechanics tips, or just general advice do you have to share?

Post a reply, and not only will you be able to share your hard-earned wisdom with a new generation of MTs, you just might see your comments in the next issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine!

Thanks!

-Abram

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The biggest form of self-care for me was learning how to say the word "no". Whether that "no" was a response to work more hours to satisfy clients wanting last minute appts or, "no" to clients asking for more deep pressure when I could already feel that I was at my maximum output. For such a tiny word, it's oftentimes the most challenging word to pronounce. :-)

One thing that I learned early on is that my body needs two days off in a row in order to stay healthy. If I separate my two days off, my muscles don't have time to recover from the demanding work that I do.

Another thing that I have learned is to relax while I am working. If I tense up and try to force my client's muscles into submission, we both end up feeling sore afterward. If instead, I relax and let my hands gently melt into my client's muscles, I don't overdo it and my client doesn't leave feeling beat up.

The Bottom Line for me (and after 16 years of professional injury-free bodyworking I think it's pretty good).  I train and condition myself for performing bodywork as if it is a sport (because in my opinion it is).  Exercise is paramount.

I must exercise on a regular basis (giving a bodywork session does NOT count as exercise).  I strength train with weights.  I cross-train.  I refrain from engaging in any extreme sport which will potentially cause injury.  I must get enough sleep on a regular basis.  I must eat healthy, energy producing food. 

I started out slow as far as the number of people I worked on daily - I built my stamina.  I regularly challenge myself to how many sessions I can do back to back in a day - my max so far is 10.  I work a lot. 

I study and learn knew modalities, methods and information on a regular basis.  I meditate.  I clear myself before and after each session.  I don't get personally involved with clients outside of the session. 

I understand that some people simply will never feel any sort of "deep" pressure  - I will not go past my limit in order to make them feel something, instead I will try to educate them on what true "deep tissue" work is all about.

I could go on and on. If I had to pick one thing --- exercise, exercise, exercise!!


I take my profession seriously, it is not merely a hobby for me and since my body is my tool I care for it daily.



Laura Cavanaugh said:

The Bottom Line for me (and after 16 years of professional injury-free bodyworking I think it's pretty good).  I train and condition myself for performing bodywork as if it is a sport (because in my opinion it is).  Exercise is paramount.

I must exercise on a regular basis (giving a bodywork session does NOT count as exercise).  I strength train with weights.  I cross-train.  I refrain from engaging in any extreme sport which will potentially cause injury.  I must get enough sleep on a regular basis.  I must eat healthy, energy producing food. 

I started out slow as far as the number of people I worked on daily - I built my stamina.  I regularly challenge myself to how many sessions I can do back to back in a day - my max so far is 10.  I work a lot. 

I study and learn knew modalities, methods and information on a regular basis.  I meditate.  I clear myself before and after each session.  I don't get personally involved with clients outside of the session. 

I understand that some people simply will never feel any sort of "deep" pressure  - I will not go past my limit in order to make them feel something, instead I will try to educate them on what true "deep tissue" work is all about.

I could go on and on. If I had to pick one thing --- exercise, exercise, exercise!!


I take my profession seriously, it is not merely a hobby for me and since my body is my tool I care for it daily.

And of course, I receive Bodywork on a regular basis!

~

Hi Abram! 

I've written extensively about massage therapist self care here on my massage website.  Please follow the link as other massage therapists have shared many of their idea's as well  ;)

Kris

 Abram, you are smart to focus on this topic, because LMT's are quick to care for others but not as attentive to their own body's needs. Receiving massage sessions is one piece to promote health and longevity as an LMT, however some sort of physical fitness practice such as yoga, qi gong (shen Zheng is my favorite form) as well strength training for the arms and core in particular. In my 20 year bodywork practice as a PT and LMT I found that life balance is important as well as impeccable body mechanics when working. I am talking about beyond the usual horse stance, bend your knees and keep your back straight. I believe it is all in the set up. How you set your body up to perform the stroke you intend. Aston-Kinetics has helped me heal from a chronic neck injury and find ease in my body while still being able to perform deep myofascial work. Unfortunately the most effective techniques out there often require excessive force through the small joints of the hands. Because of Judith Aston's techniques my hands, arms and neck no longer take the strain of my work. The unique attention Aston-Kinetics has taught me about accuracy in myofacial techniques and body mechanics has improved my practice tremendously.

Make sure you get massages. I'm sure you always recommend more regular massage for clients, so take your advice. Trade with your co-workers or classmates. You must listen to your body and respect it's limits. It will tell you if you're working too much. Also if your body is telling you its hungry or thirsty, LISTEN TO IT! The happier you and your body are the happier your clients will be :)

So many great responses so far--thanks everyone! Keep 'em coming :-)

Use self massage tools and stretch... Not yoga.  Just stretch... Like a cat.  No thinking.  Learn how to heal yourself from all your own aches and pains. If you can't do that, how can you do that for others?   FEEL your own muscles and work em. ..Then when you work on someone else, you will work from a real knowledge base, instead of just repeating techniques that you were taught.   That philosophy has helped me stay pain free and be a better massage therapist for 28 years.

I practice what I preach to my clients... frequent massage and yoga, mindfulness & meditation, good nutrition, sleep, and exercise.  Good body mechanics is a given too. But, my secret to sucess, though, is seeing a talk therapist. Not only is she a great role model for good ethics, boundaries, and business success, but it helps me be a better and healthier person so that i can be there for my clients and fully present. When i am not fully present, that is when i get injured.

I stay hydrated!  We always reccomend that our clients drink water but when life gets really busy it is easy to forget that lesson.  I make sure I drink the water.  I try to always be mindful of my body mechanics but when I hurt I do not blame myself.  I simply get it taken care of.  Sometimes that is working on myself, other times it is getting a massage, and sometimes it is Deep Blue cream.  I have stopped judging myself if I hurt.  That has made things so much better!

Hi Abram!

There are articles about massage that would really help you and give you insights about the importance of massage therapy for one's health as well as tips and techniques on starting your own massage business.

I hope this would help you. :)

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