I Couldn't be a Massage Therapist...my thumbs would break right off!

    Long before my first day at massage school, I gave my first massage. I was probably 7 or 8 years old and whether my mom was just feeding my ego or being genuine (I guess we will never know ;-) she led me to believe I had just given her the best massage of her life. Through the years I would rub my moms shoulders or head if she had a headache, other family and friends, my boyfriends shoulders, classmates during sporting events while assisting our athletic trainer, eventually 8-10 minutes of massage on patients at the physical therapy office I worked at. I was often complimented on my gift of finding knots and digging them out. The problem was after that 10 minutes my thumbs were wrecked! I would then have to massage my own hands to relieve the ache and I remember that was the first time I thought, "How in the world do massage therapists do and hour or more at a time and multiple times a day?"
    Let me tell you a secret, massage therapists will rarely touch you with their thumbs! Christy instructed us to pretend they have been lopped off! Studies show that even with the best biomechanics the thumb can not withstand the strain placed on it during manual therapy. We will not have a long last career if we continue to abuse our own bodies in service to others. In order to best serve our clients we need to take care of ourselves by practicing good....wait for the big fancy words....body mechanics and ergonomics!
    Things like table height and width, maintaining neutral position and practicing good biomechanics are going to save your body from wear and tear. Using soft fists, forearms and even elbows allow you to give adequate pressure without wearing out your thumbs! Learning these and many other techniques will prepare you and your own body for treating others.
    Just as every body is different, each therapist is different. Though we are all learning the same techniques you will learn and adapt them to your body. Not just receiving but giving a massage should be relaxing. Your energy can be felt by your client and if you are exhausted and straining to get through they will feel that and also have a hard time relaxing. By using proper techniques and avoiding strain we are better able to stay in a relaxed state while performing manual therapy. As massage therapists it is also very important to practice what we preach. Get regular massage! That seems like a no brainer but there unfortunately too many practicing therapists that aren't taking the time to get a massage for themselves. The old saying, "you can't pour from an empty pitcher" is easier said than done but incredibly important.

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