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Massage Therapist Self-Care: The Sore Thumb

Massage Therapist Self-Care: The Sore Thumb

March 28, 2017

As massage therapists, it’s in our nature to put others first and focus on their healing, but our self-care is equally as important. For us to properly practice healing our clients we must take care of ourselves as well.

While our work isn’t inherently dangerous per se, it does come with its own set of risks. The most critical of these is the notorious sore thumb.

Our healing hands are our livelihood and using them regularly will undoubtedly cause aches and strains to occur over time. We at Massage Heights have a few tips that will keep your hands in tip-top shape.

It’s All In The Thumbs

A sore thumb is the most common pain amongst massage therapists. As massage therapists, we undergo some stress as we apply pressure to clients’ pain points to relieve their aches. Though overuse of our thumbs can cause tenosynovitis, commonly called DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis.

This condition centers upon adhesions that occur over time between a tendon and its surrounding synovial sheath, in the case of massage therapists the thumb’s tendons in particular. As Whitney Lowe of the American Massage Therapy Association notes, “When you have a painful condition like tenosynovitis, your ability to use your hands and fingers to the full extent dramatically decreases.”

There are various tips to promote self-healing, and Massage Heights has selected a few to promote pain-free thumbs for massage therapists.

1. Self-Stretching- We’re inclined to focus on others as massage therapists, but sometimes we need to remember to think of our overall health and ourselves. Just as you help ease clients’ pain, help heal yourself. Stretch your hands and tendons before and after each treatment with a client. This will give your thumbs and tendons in your hand the much-needed break they deserve after you’ve helped your client.

2. Pay Attention To Pressure- Some clients want light pressure, others want deep pressure, and that variation is to be expected in our profession. But how you apply the pressure is critical to your hand health. You might be naturally inclined to apply the majority of pressure from your hands. Don’t rely on this solely! Vary it up and utilize your core and bodyweight to help apply more pressure for your clients while simultaneously giving your hands’ tendons a break from doing all the work. Not only will you save your thumbs from potential injury, but your clients will undoubtedly note and appreciate the various techniques you’re using to address their pain points.

3. Variety Is The Spice Of Life- Repetition can be a gradually dulling experience that leaves you exhausted. For a massage therapist, repetitive motions with no variation can lead to injuries over time. Remember, massage therapy isn’t about solely using your fingers and thumbs, your clients deserve top-tier treatment and variety is the key to that kind of care. Avoid the plague of sore thumbs by mixing it up and using the edges of your hand, your knuckles, and if necessary, your forearms and elbows should the situation call for it. By varying your massage techniques you’ll be saving yourself from injuries and give your clients a memorable, pain-relieving experience that they’ll surely return for.

4. Massaging the Massage Therapist- You spend your days healing clients and remedying their maladies, but who is caring for the massage therapist? Well some times you need to give yourself a little tender love and self-care. If you’re equipped and trained to help clients with their pain, then there’s no reason you should exclude yourself from that same treatment! In the case of sore thumbs and hurting hands, regular self-massages may be just the trick to keep you pain-free and prevent future injuries. Before meeting with clients, treat your healing hands to a self-massage, and after your massage post-consultation, take care of yourself with another self-massage so that your next client gets the best treatment you can give them.

At Massage Heights we care for our clients, but we also make sure to take care of our fellow massage therapists and ourselves. Visit Massage Heights and take your first step toward joining a passion-powered team with a compassionate career in massage therapy.