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Self care as a massage therapist

5 tips to help take care of yourself when your job is to take care of others

As naturally nurturing individuals, massage therapists find their passion in helping others relax, release pain and in getting clients’ bodies back to balance. Yet when your instinct is to put others first, it can be easy to forget to keep your own batteries charged and remember that providing optimal care for others starts with you. Since the work of a massage therapist can be demanding, having a good self-care regimen in place is a necessity to give your body and mind the same quality of care and attention you lavish on your clients.

Here are five tips to make self-care a priority and to help you be the best therapist you can be:

Avoid repetition. Just like those who sit at a desk all day for work, massage therapists should take care to avoid repetitive use injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel occurs when you feel numbness, tingling or weakness in your hand because of pressure on the median nerve in your wrist. Help yourself by mixing up your approach and techniques. If you often use your palms and the centers of your wrists, try using the upper or side edges of your palms. You might also try massaging with your elbows or forearms to give your fingers and wrists a break.

Protect your thumbs. Massage therapists can experience De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, a problem that makes the bottom of your thumb and the side of your wrist hurt. This condition is usually caused by overuse and happens when tendons adhere to their synovial sheaths that surround the tendons. To avoid this injury, give yourself frequent hand massages and stretch your hands and wrists before and after sessions.

Find balance in your schedule. Many massage therapists overbook themselves to make a little extra money on high-demand days. If possible, try to find the balance in your schedule to give your body a break. If you allow your mental and physical condition to suffer by working overtime to make some extra money, you may quickly reach a point at which you have no choice but to slow down.

Invest in equipment. Investing in an adjustable massage table can greatly improve your endurance. It’s easier to keep your wrists straight and maintain an upright posture when you don’t have to hunch over your clients. Choosing a massage table that lets you protect your body and keep your energy for your clients is a long-term strategy worth the investment.

Stay hydrated and eat healthy. Keep your body fed and hydrated throughout your work day. If you massage a few clients a day, you’re likely exerting as much as you would during a moderate exercise. Keeping healthy snacks on hand for in-between sessions is a great way to maintain optimal energy levels.

Massage therapy is a rewarding career, but don’t forget to take great care of what you bring to the table — you!