For most therapists, earning a massage certificate or license means they are finally ready to provide excellent care to others. However, the truth is that therapists must take good care of themselves if they wish to heal others effectively. You can maximize the sustainability of your massage career though self-awareness and self-care.
Too often, “self-care” is equated with yet more work. It’s not unusual to feel frustrated when self-care is just another item on your to-do list. But even a moment or two of sincere self-awareness and compassion can turn a day around. As you become more practiced in self-care, you will better understand what is most effective for you. From yoga to hot baths to nourishing food, there are endless ways to bring delight and healing to your own body. While you may not have time every day for an hour-long yoga class, you likely have a few minutes between massage sessions to take care of yourself.
A happy, healthy therapist will have the energy to deliver more effective massage. Ultimately, self-care translates into improved client care.
Let’s review some quick “reset” exercises that can help you refresh before your next massage session.
Fast Self-Care for Licensed Massage Therapists
In an ideal world, you would schedule at least ten minutes between massage sessions to release and relax. However, even taking just a minute or two to focus on your own needs can make a huge difference in refreshing your mind and body. Here are a few quick exercises you can use to reset.
Set Clear Energetic Boundaries. Physical pain is often linked with emotional pain, and as you work a client’s tissues, their emotional histories can surface. Without care, their issues can transfer to you. To guard against this, set an intention for your massage space prior to each session, for healing for your client as well as yourself. Take measures to clear the space after each session, as well. This may be as simple as airing out the room while taking a walk.
Stretch and Shake Out. Counteract your manual work with stretching. You may develop a short routine of basic stretches to alleviate the muscles you use most frequently, or you may find it more helpful to follow a short YouTube or Gaia video. Shaking can also help you reset, as it reminds your body that it can move in many ways, not just the patterns of massage therapy.
Over time, you will figure out which movements are the most helpful for you. Consider partnering these movements with tasks you must do between sessions. For instance, you can roll out your neck after changing the sheets. On your way to using the restroom, pause for a pectoral stretch in the doorway. While a client is changing position, take a breath or two to check in on your own body sensations.
Hydrate. Mindfully drinking cool water is a fast, effective way to nourish every cell in your body.
Breathe Deeply. Even if you only have a spare minute or two between clients, you have time to reset through your breath. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through your nose, feeling, your belly press outward as the air reaches the bottom of your lungs. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. You can visualize roots growing down from your feet through the floor, or imagine any difficult experiences/pain leaving your body through the exhale. Just three rounds of deep breath can make a difference!
Schedule Wisely. Leave more time to reset after challenging clients, or schedule them at the end of the day. Maintain a strong limit for yourself regarding how many clients you can see per day.
“Walking the walk” as massage therapists includes living a healthy lifestyle. Your dedication to self-care will serve as an excellent example for your clients. In addition to these quick between-session release techniques, it’s a good idea to get regular massage work for yourself as well. Finally, apply the advice you give to clients to yourself as well. Ice your forearms, hands, shoulders, and other body parts as needed to keep your musculature working well over a long, healthy career in massage therapy.
To conclude, we invite you to increase self-care knowledge through the massage therapy continuing education offerings at East West College. Our range of upcoming self-care courses for massage therapists includes:
- Mastering the Art of Boundaries with Sarah B. Davis, LMT.
- The Peaceful Self-Defense System for Communication with Christopher Storey, MSW.
- Massage Tools to Help your Hands with Debbie DeNardo, LMT.
A massage class focused on self-care will enhance your practice, as your clients will certainly detect your increased energy and enthusiasm for your work. Visit eastwestcollege.edu or call 503-233-6500 to sign up for a continuing education course today.