I look at any massage therapist as an athlete. Do you consider yourself one? You spent months or years learning how to provide massage services to clients. You practiced body mechanics every day to train your body so you can use it for hours on end and not injure yourself. This is what athletes do. They train for their race, game or competition, getting their body in shape to perform successfully. Massage therapists train for 20-30 clients a week. Once there, massage athletes need to continue to train to avoid injury. There are certain exercises that give you more bang for your buck. Whether you enjoy exercise or not it is an important part of your self care. Here are the best exercises that go a long way to keeping massage therapists strong and injury free.
Planks are a favorite because not only do you build core strength, you build shoulders. Massage work is very upper body dominant and upper body strength is lacking for many MTs. Even though body mechanics recruits strength from the legs the strokes still have to go through the shoulders, arms and hands for delivery. In order for the arms and hands to hold up massage after massage shoulder strength is necessary.
As massage therapists our work is in front of us and down. With arms out and head down it's no wonder we need some back exercises to counteract all the forward rounding. Supermans are easy to do anywhere and are great for posterior body strength. The erector spinae group as well as rhomboids and trapezius become stronger with this exercise.
The need for chest strength is important as massage therapists stabilize the working arm. Deep tissue compressions are a good example where muscle recruitment of the chest comes into play. Pectoralis major along with triceps are needed to hold a compression and push ups are an excellent exercise to help with better strength in these areas.
The doorway stretch is a classic homework assignment for massage therapists to give clients. We know it well and should practice what we preach. Many occupations benefit from this stretch and MTs are no different. This stretch should be done to counteract working posture which tends to round over time and with fatigue. Can anyone say their 5th massage of the day is as good as their 1st? If you experience muscle soreness from the push up exercise this stretch will feel good too.
Keeping healthy wrists and hands are important for longevity in a massage therapist's career. This simple wrist hyper extension exercise helps combat work related tension. It stretches the flexor muscles of the forearm and can also be done with individual fingers.
This can be considered an exercise but we are going to do it stationary and call it a stretch. Point the fingers towards your heels and play with rocking the body back and forth slightly to find a comfortable stretch for the wrists. Think of lifting your hips and navel towards the sky and feel the shoulders and chest open as you push your sternum skyward.
Are you ready to get started? After all, an athlete's training is ongoing and so is yours if you want healthy joints and a happy body. Massage more, feel better, and keep working for years to come. Massage therapists need fitness to become massage athletes. Give your body what it needs to succeed. Provide your clients with the best of you by bringing your BEST SELF to each session.
Until next time
Be fit, be strong
Come hang with us, where we are happy and massaging pain-free.
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