1Massage Store Blog - Archive for the ‘Self-Care for Therapists’ Category

Seven Ways to Improve your Massage Therapy Practice

The very fact that you are reading this post means that you are a therapist who is committed to your clients. In our books, that already makes you a great massage therapist! Like any career, you want to

OneTouch Massage Tool will save your thumbs!

OneTouch Massage Tool will save your thumbs!

keep learning and growing in order to feel fulfilled and to give your clients the best possible experience. Here are a few easy tips on how to improve your massage therapy practice.

Communication

Having a meaningful connection with your clients is a great way for you to get work satisfaction and for them to feel relaxed and comfortable. The important thing to remember is that this is their time. If they ask questions, answer them as fully as possible but don’t be tempted to talk too much. If the client wants to talk, let them, but most clients find that small talk detracts from the relaxation they experience in a silent massage. Try always to listen more than you talk.

Client-focused approach

The central tenant of successful massage therapy is to focus on your client’s needs. You are there to help them which enables them to lead a healthier happier life and makes your job rewarding. To accomplish this, leave your own problems at the door. Ensure that you have centered yourself and that your clients have your undivided attention so that you are receptive to the needs of your clients.

Take care of yourself

Don’t overbook yourself; you must be able to give 100% to each and every massage. If you are feeling overworked or bored, take a break and book fewer sessions. Ensure that you are always comfortable and that your massage table is set up so that you are not stretching or straining. Injuries or discomfort will mean you aren’t enjoying the massage or that you aren’t giving your best.

Try something new

Always strive to learn new technique and ways of doing things. Study massage techniques from around the world. This will add to your body of knowledge so that you can find the best techniques for each client. Varying your technique will also help you to keep your practice interesting to you and to your clients.

OneTouch Massage T-Bar Tool
Save your thumbs with the OneTouch T-Bar Tool. Professional massage tools prevent overuse injuries by applying deeper, more effective pressure with less effort. This T-Bar Massage Tool stimulates trigger points for neuromuscular therapy and reduces strain on your fingers. The large rubber tip allows you to easily isolate and apply sustained pressure to the body’s trigger points, along the spine, or in bony areas of the body.

Features:

  • - Wooden T-Bar Design
  • - 1″ Rubber Tip
  • - Saves your hands from injury and fatigue

 

Self-Care for Massage Therapists

As a massage therapist, you are well aware of the impact repetitive actions have on the body. Your clients often suffer from the consequences of sitting at a desk all day or from typing. Take some time to

The Earthlite Massage Cart will help to prevent injury and discomfort when you are on the road.

The Earthlite Massage Cart will help to prevent injury and discomfort when you are on the road.

consider how your repetitive movements are impacting your body. It’s crucial that you take care of yourself so that your posture, back and hands are not negatively affected by your massage practice. Here are some key ways to ensure that you don’t incur injury or discomfort.

Table Height

Ensure that your massage table isn’t too wide and that it is adjusted to the perfect height so that you can massage your patients without stretching. When you have to reach across the table, you are placing unnecessary strain on your back.

Adjustable Massage Chair

If standing for long hours every day or lugging your massage table from one client to the next is taking its toll, consider investing in an adjustable massage chair. Earthlite Pneumatic Massage Stool with Backrest is the perfect option for added lower back support and to help you enjoy your work.

Massage Tools

Save your thumbs with this great massage T-bar tool which is especially effective for deep tissue massage. You can apply deeper, more effective pressure with less effort so that your clients benefit from deep tissue massage without causing you discomfort.

Earthlite Massage Table Cart

If you are taking your massage practice on the road, you may need to invest in a massage table cart. It maneuvers easily, allowing you to roll your table rather than carrying it, so that you arrive refreshed and ready to go.

Durable steel tube construction with a chrome finish will not chip or peel under heavy use like paint. It has 6″ heavy duty wheels and stair glides to protect your table on stairs. Comes with a bungee cord to attach a bolster to the cart.

Features:

  • Durable steel tube construction for long life
  • Chrome finish won’t chip or peel
  • Six inch heavy duty wheels
  • Stair glides for maneuvering stairs and curbs
  • Quick release strap fits all portable tables
  • Can be used with or without a carry case
  • Includes Bungee cord to attach a bolster
  • Comfortable padded handle
  • Folds compactly for storage
  • Arrives fully assembled
  • Weight: 9lbs

Self-Care Advice for Massage Therapy Students

Head massage

Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of others.

Massage school is a demanding time in life, especially if you are working while going to school. Don’t let the stress get you down. Use these self-care tips to stay happy and healthy while you’re going to massage school and getting started as a massage therapist.

1. Take care of your body.

Your body is your most important tool as a massage therapist. Learn to listen to your body’s subtle warning signs (aching wrists after a long day of massage, twinges in your thumbs, etc.) and treat minor aches and pains before they turn into career-threatening injuries.

Rest your hands and arms whenever possible, and ice frequently to prevent or reduce inflammation, especially if you are increasing the number of hours you massage per week.

2. Learn proper body mechanics.

Learn how to use your whole body as you massage rather than just your arms and wrists. Proper body mechanics will prolong your career as a massage therapist and greatly reduce your risk for injury. Take the time and effort to learn how to massage correctly in the beginning of your career, and you’ll be grateful for the rest of your career.

3. Adjust the massage table to the right height.

Proper massage table height is important for your body mechanics. Leaning too far down or reaching too high forces you to adapt by changing your posture. For most massage students, the top of the massage table should reach your first set of knuckles when your hand is down by your side. This is a general guideline only; use your best judgment to find the right height for you. Certain types of massage (such as deep tissue) and certain clients with a thicker body structure may require a shorter massage table height.

4. Use massage tools to give your wrists and thumbs a break.

There’s no shame in using massage tools to give your hands a break. A simple thumb saver can allow you to massage longer or apply deeper pressure without risking an injury.

5. Take time for yourself.

Massage therapists can easily fall into the trap of always helping others but never taking time out for themselves. Set aside time each week to do something just for yourself. You can’t give to others what you don’t give to yourself first.

Student Massage Tables

Need a portable massage table to practice on friends and family? Check out our selection of student massage tables for the budget-conscious shopper. Free shipping to the lower 48 U.S.

Image courtesy of Ambros / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Massage Therapists: How to Save Your Back

Massage stool

Alternate sitting and standing to ease the strain on your back and legs.

As a massage therapist, your body is your livelihood. Take care of yourself with these therapist self-care tips.

Proper Ergonomics

Consciously assessing your posture and movements isn’t just for massage students. Overuse injuries creep up slowly over time. A little twinge can turn into a sharp pain over the course of a few months.

Be aware of your ergonomics, and make sure you’re not placing extra stress on any part of your body. Keep your body balanced and your core muscles engaged. Bend from the hips, not the waist to keep your back straight and protected.

Table Height

Set the massage table to the right height for your technique and client. For deep tissue massage, you might want to set the height lower. Side-lying clients and heavyset clients may also require a lower table height.

Don’t compromise your body mechanics by keeping the table at a height that’s too high or too low for the client and modality. Take time to adjust the massage table height as needed. For regular clients, you can make a note in their file to set the table to a certain height before their appointment begins.

Self-Care

Give your body adequate rest throughout the week. You won’t be able to help others with their pain if you’re hurting yourself.

Don’t give more massages in a week than your body can handle. If your business is growing, increase your number of weekly massage hours gradually. Hire another therapist or make referrals when necessary.

Seated Work

Alternate sitting and standing to give your feet, back, and legs a break. Use a massage stool for massaging the feet, head, and hands and for reflexology or energy work. A rolling stool lets you adjust the height and move around the table while seated. A folding stool is easy to transport for off-site appointments.

Transporting Your Table

Do you travel with your massage table? A massage table cart can save your back. When you’re visiting clients’ homes or businesses, you never know what the circumstances will be: how far you’ll need to carry the table, whether or not you’ll need to navigate stairs, etc. Take some of the stress off your body and save your energy for massage with a massage table cart.

Massage Poll: How Long Have You Been a Massage Therapist?

Massage Therapist Self-Care: Creating an Ergonomic Treatment Room

Massage treatment room

The size of your treatment room and the height and width of your massage table have an impact on your body mechanics.

Because of the risks of chronic hand, wrist, forearm, and low back injuries that many massage therapists experience, ergonomics is important for saving your hands and saving your practice. Improper body mechanics can result in injuries that can end your career as a massage therapist. With the right ergonomic work area and body mechanics, however, you can look forward to a long and healthy career in massage and bodywork.

Work Area

In a best case scenario, your massage table should have at least 3 feet of open space on all sides. With adequate space on all sides of the table, you will be more likely to use proper body mechanics and natural alignment. The more cramped the room is, the more cramped your movements are likely to be.

Unfortunately, the size of your treatment room may not allow for adequate spacing. To make the most of the space that you have available, try angling the table to give yourself more room at the sides and ends of the massage table.

Massage Table Width

Although you can’t change the width of your current massage table, now is the time to evaluate the width of your table and how it affects your posture. A massage table that is too wide encourages reaching across the client and compromising your body mechanics. Although a wider table may be more comfortable for some of your clients, a narrower table provides better access for you as a therapist. Taller therapists can work on wide or narrow massage tables, while shorter therapists will find it easier to maintain proper body mechanics on a narrow table.

Side arm extenders

Side arm extenders make larger clients feel more secure on the table.

Consider a compromise on your next massage table purchase by choosing a narrower massage table and adding side arm extensions for your larger clients. You may also want to consider a massage table that is wider at the shoulders and feet and narrower at the center. This will give you better access to the hips and lower back while providing adequate support and width for your clients’ shoulder and arms.

Massage Table Height

Do you keep your massage table at the same height for every client and modality? Although changing the table height takes a few minutes between clients, the extra time is worth the effort. Don’t compromise your body mechanics by working on a table that is too tall or too short. If you are working on a “thick” client, lower the table even further than usual. Deep tissue massage is also easier with a lower table height.

Although the rule of thumb is to adjust the table height so that it just brushes your first set of knuckles, don’t be afraid to experiment with other table heights to find the right height for you. Your standard table height may change depending on the client, the type of treatment, and other factors.

How to Use a Massage Tool

Grip the massage tool gently.

Grip the massage tool gently with your
whole hand, not just your fingers.

Using a massage tool can be a great way to save your hands. Used properly, it can enhance your technique and gently loosen stubborn tissue. Here are some tips on getting the most out of a massage tool.

  1. Practice before using a tool on your clients. Practice on yourself and on a friend or therapist who can provide helpful feedback.
  2. Use tools in moderation. They should complement your technique, not take the place of your hands.
  3. When you’re not using a tool, put it down to prevent gripping the tool unconsciously.
  4. Don’t grip the tool harder than necessary, or you risk losing all the benefits of resting your hands.
  5. Keep your hands, wrists, and arms soft and relaxed. Tension in any part of the body can affect the entire body.
  6. Hold the massage tool comfortably with your whole hand, not just your fingertips.
  7. Try several different methods of holding the tool. There is not necessarily one correct way to use a tool.
  8. Be aware of ergonomics and posture as you use the tool. Keep your wrist straight.
  9. Ask for feedback from the client if you are unsure how much pressure you are exerting, particularly for deep tissue and trigger point. If in doubt, use gentler pressure.
  10. Do not force tissue to respond. Be gentle.
  11. Do not use massage tools on clients with fragile skin or on areas of the body where the bones or organs are close to the surface.

When Should I Use a Massage Tool?

Use a thumb helper tool to give your thumb and finger joints a rest.

Use a thumb helper tool to give your thumb and finger joints a rest.

Your fingertips are one of the most sensitive parts of the body, with numerous nerve endings close to the surface. It’s natural that you may want to use that sensitivity to its fullest extent by searching out the intricacies of a tight muscle or applying prolonged pressure to a hypersensitive trigger point.

But the truth is, the thumb and fingers are not only sensitive but they are more susceptible to overuse injuries than, say, the forearm or elbow. The more you rely on your fingers and thumbs to massage, the more likely you are to injure your hands over time.

Preventing Overuse Injury

No therapist can or should discount the importance of feeling the body with your own hands. But might there be a safer way to apply deep pressure without overstressing the thumbs and fingers?

A large number of therapists have found a way to balance the sensitivity of hands-on massage with the hand-saving technique of using massage tools. No massage tool can ever replace direct touch, but it can relieve pressure on the hands, allow you to massage deeper without compromising your body mechanics, and encourage resistant tissues to respond and heal.

Using a Massage Tool for Specific Types of Work

Some types of work are more appropriate for using massage tools than others. For example, if you need to apply sustained pressure to a muscle group or trigger point, use a hand tool or T-bar tool to give your thumb and finger joints a rest. If your technique requires a large amount of thumb and finger work or you are working on an obese client, massage tools also come in handy here. A sudden increase in the usual number of massages you give per week also calls for more massage tool usage to relieve the strain on your hands.

Use your best judgment for when to use a massage tool and when to lay it aside. The key is to use it as a tool and not as a replacement for the sensitivity of hands-on work.

Use a massage tool when your work includes…
  • A disproportionate amount of thumb work
  • Sustained pressure
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Working on obese clients
  • An increase in the usual number of massages per week

How to Use Massage Tools Effectively

Massage tools allow you to accomplish more with less effort.

Massage tools allow you to accomplish more with less effort.

The main benefit of massage tools is that they allow you to save your thumbs, fingers, and wrists from injury and apply deep, localized pressure to the tissue. Used correctly, a massage tool (such as a thumb helper, hand helper, or T-bar tool) will allow you to accomplish more with less effort.

Save Your Hands

Even with the best body mechanics and techniques, full-time massage can be hard on your hands. Massage tools take some of the pressure off of your hands and allow you to keep up with your massage schedule without making you vulnerable to overuse injuries.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Learning to use a massage tool effectively starts with practice. Before using massage tools on your clients, practice on a willing friend or therapist. Ask for feedback, adjust your technique, and then ask for feedback again. It’s also a good idea to ask another therapist to use the massage tool on you so that you know exactly how it feels for your clients. You may not even be able to tell the difference between the massage tool and the therapist’s hands.

Trigger Point Work

If you incorporate any type of trigger point work into your technique, the benefit of massage tools will immediately become transparent. Trigger point tools can reach places that your fingers can’t, and they do so with pinpoint accuracy.

Sensing the Tissue’s Response

Massage tools are not a substitute for human touch but rather an extension of the hand and a stabilizer. The more familiar you become with using a massage tool, the more effectively you will be able to sense the response of the tissue and convey the subtleties of human touch through this extension of your hands.

Using Massage Tools for Deeper Massage

Thumb Helper Massage Tool

Thumb Helper Massage Tool

Do you use massage tools in your therapy practice? Do you feel guilty—like you’re giving your client something less than a “real” massage? You shouldn’t!

Using massage tools is a smart way to save your hands, and the fact is that when you use these tools effectively, your clients won’t even know the difference between the feel of your fingers, your knuckles, and a hand helper or T-bar tool.

Massage tools help you to work more effectively. You can give a deeper tissue massage and apply firmer pressure to trigger points without working your fingers to the bone.

With practice, you will become more sensitive to the tissue’s response, even through the medium of the massage tool. The more skilled you become in using massage tools, the more they will become simply an extension of your own hands.

Your hands are your greatest asset as a massage therapist. If you work them too hard, you may just work yourself out of a job! Reduce the strain on your hands by using your elbows, knuckles, and massage tools for deeper strokes and trigger point work, or even for traditional Swedish massage techniques.

Full-time massage work places strenuous demands on your hands and body. Massage tools are just one way you can keep up with the pace of your work without compromising the health and strength of your body.