Why are massage therapists so susceptible to occupation related injuries? Many of the massage techniques that we perform on a daily basis are repetitious and repetition is the primary reason why massage causes injuries.
Deep Tissue and Sports Massage treatments are generally more demanding than Swedish massage as they require the therapist to apply an even greater amount of pressure with their wrist and hands, making them extremely vulnerable to injury. As remarkable as our body’s capability to heal itself is, over time, the body becomes stressed beyond its own limits and this is when injury occurs.
No one part of the body is designed to do the same motion over and over for extended periods of time without sufficient rest. It is at the point when our body gives us the early warning signs of injury such as twinges and aches in the wrist and hands that we must learn to recognise and heed these warnings. If we don't take action at the early stages, the injury will gradually get worse. This can be very costly in terms of lost time, clients and money. The problem is that it is natural for us as therapists, to put our client’s needs first so we often ignore these warning signs thinking that they will go away on their own.
Of course there are other factors we must consider such as our body type, strength, general condition and age. Additionally, the way we live our lives also determines our susceptibility to injury. For instance, massage therapists that have healthy diets and keep themselves fit are less prone to injury than therapists who have poor diets and lead sedentary lives outside of work.
It is imperative that we first look after our own health and well-being by becoming more aware and listening to our body. By working sensibly, leaving adequate time between clients, changing harmful techniques and learning to develop safer, more effective techniques, we can help reduce our risk of injury and prolong our career as massage therapists.
By Cindy Vernon MFHT, SMA, ATL
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