Massage Therapists and On-the-Job Injuries

Learning how to communicate as a massage therapist

Massage Therapist Injuries & How to Prevent Them

The benefits of becoming a massage therapist are many. The job outlook is strong, there’s a large potential for self-employment, and you get to help others achieve maximum health and wellness.

However, not all of the massage therapist’s work is beneficial. Massage is a physically demanding skill, and repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are common among practitioners who don’t take the proper precautions.

Statistics regarding the actual rate of on-the-job injuries vary, but the high estimates say that up to 80 percent of massage therapists experience an injury or other burnout that causes them to leave the profession after only two years.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid becoming part of the statistics, allowing you to enjoy a long and fruitful massage career.

Massage Therapy Injury Prevention

Use good techniques.

Massage therapy schools focus on teaching proper techniques for a reason. Not only do the right techniques maximize your skills as a therapist, but they also reinforce the importance of using your own body to apply pressure rather than muscular strength.

By not overtaxing your own muscles in this way, you can achieve the best kinds of deep tissue bodywork without putting a strain on your system.

Space sessions accordingly.

There is perhaps no easier way to reduce massage-related injuries than to reduce your workload. Eight hours of nonstop massage and preparation will contribute to a higher chance of job burnout or injury, no matter how strong you are.

Like individuals who work at a computer all day long (and are therefore susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome and eye strain), massage therapists are at risk for injury to their fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders, back, neck, and even legs and feet.

Although you might want to “push through the pain” in order to make money (or your employer might require you to keep working), the long-term effects are much worse than the short-term gain. And in the case of employers who overbook their massage therapists, there may be legal steps you can take to reduce your workload or receive paid time off for recovery purposes.

Stay in shape.

Overall physical fitness will go a long way in keeping you active and healthy, regardless of what you do for your job. For massage therapists, there are added benefits to physical fitness, since you can maintain a high level of body health and also improve your own mobility and skills as a massage practitioner.

Many massage therapists find that performing routine exercises and stretching before and after sessions can go a long way in reducing workplace injuries. Arm and shoulder exercises are of particular importance, and some that are tailored for massage therapists can be worked into your every day routine.

Diversify your craft.

Different types of massage tax your body in different ways. If you are in danger of getting or re-injuring your hands or arms, you may want to consider learning a new type of massage or offering a more diverse range of services.

For example, for every deep tissue massage, you can offer a hot stone massage, which is less likely to cause you harm over the long-term. Aromatherapy sessions, light oil massages, or even hand or foot massages can also be a great way to mix things up.

Get a massage.

Like psychologists, it’s very common for massage professionals to turn to their peers to receive the same services they provide every day. After all, no one knows better than a massage therapists just how important it is to treat the body well and keep yourself fit in order to live pain-free.

Massages that focus on the hands and upper body, when done regularly, can help you to keep yourself relaxed and flexible for your massage clients.

For More Information

No matter what type of massage you perform, bodywork is all about opening up a new avenue for health and health care. While most of the concern is on the client – doing what you can to ease their ailments, injuries, and chronic pain – the truth is that the best massage therapists don’t neglect their own well-being.

Just as athletes can’t compete unless they take care of their bodies, so to must massage therapists keep themselves at the top of their game.

If you are considering massage therapy school, be sure and choose one that offers a course in injury prevention or sustainability as a massage therapist. Paying for an education that doesn’t take the long-term effects of the career in mind isn’t necessarily a sound investment in your future.

For those who have already entered the massage therapy field, there are a number of injury prevention books and guides available.

Save Your Hands, a recognized injury prevention organization, also offers continuing education credits related to minimizing workplace injuries for massage and manual therapists. This course meets most state and county regulations for keeping massage licensing current.