According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), message therapists are at relatively high risk of burnout. When starting a career as a massage therapist, it’s easy to underestimate how physical the job is. Over time, the physical strains can affect your enjoyment, and diminish your job satisfaction in what is otherwise a very rewarding job.
We’re here to share 7 small changes that can help you prevent physical and emotional burnout in your career as a massage therapist.
7 Small Changes You Can Make Today
Adjust the height of your table
If you’re using a standard height setting for all your patients and all treatments, you’re going to pay a physical toll.
Clients come in all sizes. When lying down, a client who weighs 300lbs will be an inch or two higher than someone weighing half that amount. You’ll also want to factor in which part of the body you’ll be working on - generally speaking glutes are higher than shoulders, so you’ll need to lower your table.
If in doubt, it’s better for you table to be slightly too low than slightly too high. Your aim is to be able to use your body weight to apply the appropriate pressure. Which brings us onto our next point...
Use your body weight
Drop your weight instead of physically pushing with your muscles. This not only saves your back, it also helps to create a more pleasant experience for your clients. If you use muscular force, you may be pushing too deeply and cause pain for your clients.
Master several bodywork techniques
If you’re just using the same moves, you’re going to experience burnout more quickly. Your best option is to learn new massage therapist techniques that will help you vary which parts of your body you are using and how you are using them. The AMTA also recommends using your forearms more often, and reserve using your hands for more intricate massages such as massaging your clients’ head, face, fingers and toes.
Adjust your stance
Improper posture causes problems for many massage therapists. Check-in on your posture and make regular adjustments. Make sure your feet are more than a hips-width apart and facing in the direction of travel. Knees should be relaxed and slightly bent (not locked), engage your core, and keep your back and neck straight.
Utilize client breathwork
Don’t forget that your clients are just as invested in your massages being efficient and effective as you are. Ask your clients to “breathe in” to the area being worked on so as to increase circulation and prevent them from tensing up in that area.
Inform your client, don’t just do as they ask
Remember, you are the expert. If your client requests that you work on a tight spot, inform them that it’s more effective to focus on the source of the pain, which could be different from where they feel tight.
Listen to your body
If you start noticing pain in any area of your body, act to prevent it from getting worse. This also applies to taking care of yourself emotionally. Notice when you’re starting to feel drained and stressed, and practice self-care techniques such as deep breathing to help you.
Making these 7 little changes will help to keep your career as a massage therapist sustainable long-term. We hope you find them useful.