So as I sit here, trying to massage my own back it got me thinking… How do you look after yourself as a sports massage therapist? Our working role is to treat people. Hopefully improving their quality of life and movement, or indeed performance, deepening on their individual outcomes. In order to do this it inevitably puts some stress on our own bodies.
Practice what we preach
I have always been an advocate of if you are working hard as a massage therapist during an individual treatment, then you are probably doing it wrong. That said, after a day of multiple treatments, or indeed a week, you will often be tired both physically and mentally. From a physical perspective, it is really important to practice what we preach. I will be honest and say that I am not always the best at this. However, as I am feeling the start of pain in my right hip and my back aches (definitely not old enough for that yet!). I do in fact have an appointment booked this evening to see an osteopath (not a massage therapist this time… blasphemy!).
Look after yourself as a sports massage therapist
Being treated regularly yourself is really important, and I highly recommend finding someone you respect who can help look after you. This might be a reciprocal arrangement with another therapist whereby you ‘swap’ treatments, or indeed just scheduling time in your diary for ‘self-maintenance’. At the end of the day, not looking after yourself will potentially limit your working lifespan. This in turn will impact the quality of the treatment that you are able to deliver, especially if you cannot utilize your posture so effectively.
What issues could you get as a sports massage therapist
Typical issues include wrist/hand pain, lower back, and most commonly, shoulders. As well as being treated regularly yourself, you should of course always be looking to protect and reinforce your own joints when treating. This will prevent any long term damage. Another key area to remember is maintaining correct posture, protecting your back. This is something that Tamsin and I have always been really keen to reinforce in new therapists and the difference it makes is unbelievable.
Plan your working week
Structuring your week can also be really helpful and is very individual. Tamsin prefers to work three to four longer days. This allows an extra day for admin and recovery at the end of the week. I tend to treat six days a week. Working fewer hours, in part because that fits into my routine better and I often feel drained if I do too many treatments in a day. There really is not right answer, it is simply what works for you.
So as I continue to rub my own back, and try to remember all the aches to tell my therapist (I always forget one)! I hope that gives a little insight into looking after yourself. I might not always the best at maintaining my own body (hopefully getting better), but I think knowing when you need assistance is really important. Recognize it early and if nothing else look after yourself. This will allow you to do the best possible job treating the people you work with yourself.