Keeping in shape is a vital part of staying competitive in the massage environment. By following my comprehensive guide below, you can stay on the up-and-up with the health game.
Habitual stretching keeps your muscles limber and your body healthy and prevents your muscles and tendons from tightening over time. Anytime you put a continual strain on your body, your fascia needs a chance to lengthen and regain its natural form. Neglecting to stretch might put you at risk for accidentally spraining a joint or straining a muscle, which is just as unpleasant and painful as it sounds.
Three things to keep in mind when stretching are:
- Don’t push yourself too hard. It isn’t a contest, know your limits, and listen to your body.
- Don’t bounce when stretching. This can cause more damage. The stretch should be slow and natural, with frequent pauses or retreats if too intense.
- Remember to balance your stretching. Match what you do on opposing muscles and both sides of the body.
Have healthy snacks in your studio
It never feels good to be hungry and with the constant energy exertion from massaging, you may find yourself tempted to run to a nearby fast food joint and get something fast & easy. Not only is this extremely unhealthy over time, but it can also be very expensive!
This is a very uncomfortable dilemma for many massage therapists, so I recommend that instead, you think ahead and bring a healthy snack to work. Everyone has dietary preferences, but some great options are high protein snack bars, fruit, and nuts. If you have a fridge available, you can make a batch of work sandwiches or have fresh-cut veggies in water to snack on. Think: Healthy and quick, so you can get the energy you need to get back to work.
Drink plenty of water (even in session!)
Drinking water isn’t just something that your clientele should be doing! Unless you are the Wicked Witch, your water consumption should be mandatory during the course of the workday. Staying hydrated helps keep you at the medically recommended balance of fluid in your body (which is around 60% for the average adult). Keeping this balance has been connected with:
- Increased brain function
- A reduction in headaches
- Improved mood
- Improved memory
- Increased weight loss
- Flushing toxins
- And the prevention of many skin problems!
The process of giving a massage is a highly physical action so keeping yourself hydrated is especially important!
Take longer breaks in-between clients
You may have noticed that I lampshaded this one in the previous bullets, that is because it is integral in keeping yourself from becoming too stressed. Your breaks should be at a minimum of 20-30 minutes to allow yourself enough time to get your stretches in, rehydrate, munch on a bit of food, and catch your breath. Some therapists love to squeeze appointments in so that there are only 15 min gaps in between clients. I know, because I used to do the same (and still do every once in a while!).
The benefit of the quick turnover is more money in your pocket for the day, but after 10 years of massaging, I realized that an extra bit of cash isn’t worth the detrimental effects. With minimal changeover time, clients feel rushed, you feel stressed, your body breaks down faster and the whole energy of relaxation and calm which massage should embody completely disappears. The short and sweet of it is: if you want a long and healthy life as an LMT, take longer breaks. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Taking the time you need for yourself is perhaps the most important because, in the context of your life and business, the most important body in the room at any time is your own. With that knowledge, you should make sure you are well-taken-care-of so that you can focus on providing value to yourself and your clients so that everyone leaves with a positive experience.
Exercise to build strength
Most therapists have terrible exercise schedules. You need to set up your workout routine ASAP and cultivate the habit of healthiness. Regular exertion encourages your body to build up the necessary energy and strength that a massage career requires. The therapists who have the longest careers have figured out what it takes physically and maintain the discipline to avoid injury.
By shifting your workout to focus on increasing your strength, you will not only provide your clients that extra bit of pressure when massaging them but will also avoid feeling drained and exhausted after hours of work. I know a disappointing number of therapists who don’t exercise outside of work, leading to hypertension, muscle tearing, and eventual extensive surgery.
Be smart and take care of your body. You only have one.
Eric has been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2010. He is an expert healer with an alternative approach, and he is dedicated to helping my clients move through a wide range of physical, emotional, and spiritual transitions in the most efficient and transformative way possible. Now he coaches bodyworkers and health solopreneurs in their journey to fulfillment. Join expert therapists and experience massage community with his Facebook group: The Happy, Successful Massage Therapist.