The Physical Demands of Massage School

The Physical Demands of Massage School

How to Prepare for Massage School’s Physical Demand?

Did you ever take the time to really think about your thumbs….I mean really understand how phenomenal it is to have opposing thumbs….Once you give your first massage, you will!

Massage is quite literally physical work.  Obviously we work on our clients in a very physical nature, but what about our own bodies?   In massage therapy as in many other professions, our body is our tool.  One of the very first things you will learn in any massage modality class is the importance of proper body mechanics.

This is one of the reasons that I advocate for hands on instruction in a classroom setting.  Having the opportunity to work with instructors who are long time practitioners themselves offers a specific knowledge set that no textbook can match.

Before I came to school, I didn’t have real understanding or concept of how exhausting giving a massage can be.  Think about 60 to 90 minutes of continuous movement, bending, stretching, lifting…it’s a mini-workout.  Now think about doing the same thing 4 or 5 times a day. That’s a minimum of 5 hours (not including cleaning of your work space) of actual physical work.

So, what can you do to prepare yourself for this?  Take care of your body!!

Things to look for in a school:

  • A program that includes lots of observation, hands on practice, and specific instruction on body mechanics
  • A program that has instructors who are long time practitioners (one of my instructors has been doing massage for over 30 years)
  • A program that includes instruction in stretching and movement
  • A program that understands the importance of self-care

Things to do before you start and throughout your program:

  • Eat well!  Small meals and snacks with high nutritional value.  Trust me on this one….you don’t want to eat a huge meal and then head in to give or receive massage….especially not something high in fat…you will experience some unpleasant bodily functions of your own…and your client WILL know.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.  You will want to be able to move comfortably.  Yoga pants, scrubs…light weight fabrics that move easily and keep you covered.
  • Take care of your skin….dry cracked skin isn’t what someone wants to feel in massage.  Look for unscented natural options.  Coconut oil and shea butter are wonderful.
  • Hydrate….hydrate….hydrate!  Make sure to not guzzle water so that you have to leave a session early to visit the restroom….but make sure that your body is well hydrated.  There is nothing wrong with taking a second while transitioning to have a quick drink of water.  I will often go through 20 ounces in a 90 minute massage.
  • Work out.  Start with a simple program.  Walking…yoga…swimming…Keep your body moving.
  • Sleep…get into a schedule of restful sleep.  7-9 hours a night if you can manage.  I have a 3 year old….I understand how difficult this is.  But, when I get the sleep, I am better able to function.
  • Rest your mind.  Spend time in meditation.  Go outside…let the sun shine on your beautiful face.
  • Treat yourself to regular massage and body work.  Use it as an opportunity to recharge…or learn about how others practice.  I always tell The Suit that it’s about research!
  • Get to know your body and listen to it.  I know that might sound a bit “hippy” but trust me…the better you know yourself…the better you will be able support others.

These might sound like simple tips…and frankly aside from the specifics that are academic in a nature, these are things that we all should be doing on a daily basis anyway.  But, when we use our bodies for our livelihood, we have an ever greater responsibility to take care of ourselves.  So, for today….and forever…take good care of those thumbs…and the rest of your body.  Until next time…breathe.