As we all know, working as a massage therapist can take its toll on your body! Long hours standing and the strain on your joints as you work to remove all the knots and tension from your client's muscles.
Combined with the stresses of running your own massage therapy business, it is easy to see why many therapists burn out and leave the profession.
To help, we have taken the most commonly reported aches and pains from massage therapists and found the best exercises, stretches and solutions so you can lengthen your career as a massage therapist and give yourself some much-needed relief.
Whilst a lot of attention is paid recently to back pain caused by sitting at desks all day, people in many industries suffer with a sore back from being on their feet all day. However, there is something particularly cruel about suffering from a sore back whilst you massage away the aches of your clients!
Ease the pressure on your lower back with these 7 simple stretches. With no equipment required litter these exercises throughout your day to keep you feeling refreshed for your next client!
Anyone who has worked standing all day can attest to how this can cause havoc on feet. Without regular self-care, this can turn into serious issues like plantar fasciitis but there are easy tricks you can incorporate into your routine to keep you on your feet.
Keep a tennis ball in your drawer and take a minute whilst you sit down between clients to rejuvenate your feet.
This 3-minute video provides some quick exercises you can do between massage treatments to strengthen your ankles and ward off any discomfort.
Many of you commented that you find yoga useful for keeping your muscles supple and unwinding any aches and pains.
If you have space in your clinic to roll out your mat, this 4-minute sequence can help to stretch out any discomfort in the feet and ankles before your next client.
Alternatively, at the end of the day, run through the sequence and then put your feet up in front of the television with some hot stones and melt all the aches away!
Working on client's tight muscles can cause pain in fingers and work its way into wrists and forearms over time.
Where appropriate try to break up the amount of time you are working with your fingers and thumbs by using tools such as hot stones or a thumb saver and take care of yourself with these simple massage techniques and stretches.
With this 50 second video, you can relieve the nasty symptoms of carpal tunnel.
We all know it is important to not be hunched over our clients when delivering our massage treatments and increasingly massage tables are being shaped to allow better access to our client's lumbar area. However, it is still easier said than done to not allowing bad posture to creep in and cause sore shoulders at the end of the day. Over time problems with the scapula can cause serious problems that can impact the number of clients you can see and your massage therapy business as a whole.
Click the video below to skip straight to 1.02 where you can learn a quick stretch to loosen up any tightness and feel greater stability in your shoulders in just 2 minutes.
Caused by looking down for prolonged periods of time, massage therapists commonly struggle with problems with their neck and suboccipital muscles.
Firstly follow this great piece of advice from Larry.
Incorporate this four-minute routine into your day to stretch out your neck after a long day giving massage treatments will nip any soreness in the bud and stop it developing into a more serious issue.
A final piece of advice that is invaluable. That whatever form of exercise you choose, make sure it is one that you enjoy.
Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!
A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.
The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because
Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.
Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.
Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.
Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.
Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.
If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:
Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.
Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.
The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.
You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.
Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.
A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:
1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.
The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.
You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!
There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.
1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):
If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.
2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):
The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.
The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.
1. Rectangle shaped with square corners
This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.
2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners
Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.
3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient
A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.
This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.
The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.