Massage therapists are not exempted from posture problems.
In fact, we’re prone to it.
Around 71.4% of registered massage therapists suffer from at least one work-related musculoskeletal disorder a year. This is according to a study published by the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.
It can’t be helped. As massage therapists who spend hours each day standing over clients, we might dismiss our neck and back pain as normal side effects of the job. But poor posture habits can affect our mood, our health and the overall quality of our lives.
Thankfully, there are simple day-to-day solutions that help in avoid complications. Make a habit of following the suggestions below to help keep you in good shape:
The Problem: Neck Pain and Hunched Shoulders when performing massage
The Culprit: sitting or standing for long hours with shoulders slumped forward
One study compared staring down at your phone as the equivalent of carrying a 60-pound weight on your neck.
Sitting or standing too long with your head in the same position can ultimately strain the neck and shoulders. Excessive use of gadgets is one culprit of poor posture also.
We’re all guilty of indulging in our computer or smartphones.
But did you know that we engage in the same position at every massage session with our clients.
That strain is compounded during each massage session because we generate different amounts of pressure for each client while also concentrating on applying the right massage technique - and not always focusing on our posture.
While we help our clients alleviate their muscular tension, we’re building up our own.
The Easy Solution: Focus on your touch, not your eyes
To avoid exacerbating the pain, Dr. Joe Muscolino, a licensed Chiropractic Physician recommends closing your eyes to feel more and focus on your touch while you massage.
“The physical stress load on the neck extensors can be largely eliminated if we do not hold our head and neck in flexion, closing our eyes when working reminds us that we do not need to watch the work being done so often,” Muscolino disclosed in an article by the AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association).
You don’t need to hunch your shoulders every time you lean over clients. Stretching your arms and repositioning your shoulders will help relieve aches and pains that start to build up.
Remember to also keep your chin parallel to the floor and breathe properly. Massage therapy is an instinctive tactile skill and not necessarily a visual one.
“We allow ourselves to focus more on what we are feeling with our hands.” Muscolino concludes.
The Problem: Lower back pain
The Culprit: bending down or hunched in poor posture for hours
We are prone to muscular pain in our low back because we use our upper extremities to perform massage techniques. And we tend to lean over our clients whether we sit or stand. Our shoulders are almost always hunched over the massage table.
The result is a greater load on the lumbar muscles. This slumped position can become a bad habit, and an injurious one at that, which can potentially affect long-term massage performance.
The Easy Solution: Stretch and Switch Position every 20 minutes
To prevent any long-term damage, it’s better to keep your core strong and bend your knees to keep the load on your strongest muscles. Your arms can use this solid base from which to generate the power they need with less fatigue.
How to Stretch Your Arms Forearms, and Hands
How to Stretch Your Shoulders, Chest and Upper Back
How to Stretch Your Neck
If you have many appointments for the day try altering your position. Stand then sit, pace back and forth from time to time. I like to use a small camping stool when I’m working on a client’s head and neck in the prone position to give myself a little break. Even seated, you’ll want to keep an erect posture.
There are also simple exercises you can do at home or at work while waiting for your next appointment. These workouts are designed to enhance your flexibility and manage any discomfort in your lower back.
How to Stretch Your Lower Back, Abs and Hips
How to Stretch Your Quads, Hamstrings, and Calves
Video credits go to: Bree Argetsinger at www.thebettyrocker.com
Finally, as a professional in making people relaxed and feel better, don’t forget that it starts with your own body. This profession can be physically demanding so don’t forget to have your own self-care regimen in place.
As a massage therapist, your body is your tool and treating like a professional athlete would hers will ensure a long, healthy career. Strength, flexibility, and consistently using proper body mechanics will achieve this.
We also recommend some easy ways for massage therapists to rejuvenate to stay fit and fab.
How about getting a good massage yourself to keep up a good posture? Go ahead and book one now and continue spreading those good vibes!
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- Author: Sheree Evans
- Published: August 21, 2017