Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Overcoming the Fear of Burnout for Massage Therapists

As part of our continuing education programs, we ask students to complete a short survey. It serves several purposes. It helps us understand how far students travel, what topics they would like to see offered and most importantly, what their concerns are as a massage therapist.

The following are quotes taken from recent surveys;

“I am concerned about my longevity and continuing to work without pain. I sometimes wonder how long I will be able to do this.”

“I want to work as effectively as possible for as long as possible. I'm tired of icing my hands at the end of the day.”

Based on our surveys, the majority of therapists fear they will not be able to practice as long as they want due to physical pain and burn out.

Our mission is to provide tools that can assuage these fears. We are attempting to do this in several ways. Our workshops incorporate elements of self-care such as body mechanics, “no thumbs” techniques, stretching and ensuring bodywork is received during class. Our blog features articles around self-care and we have recently posted videos demonstrating new techniques with body mechanics incorporated. We are also trying to raise awareness with employers of massage therapists about the importance of assisting with self-care. But, we can only reach so many people.

There are many things you can do on your own if you are concerned about your body carrying you through many more years of massage. Some suggestions are below;

  1. Stay active to ensure the flexibility and health of your body. Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates all form a great foundation for you to stay supple and strong during your sessions. Many yoga postures will strengthen the muscles you must rely on to deliver strokes.
  2. Eat optimally to provide your body the nutrients and energy you need to carry you through four to six sessions. Go for natural foods that are not loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that will keep you going.
  3. Stay involved in a massage community. Attend events where like-minded people go. A support network can keep you energized and provide resources for help.
  4. Pick CE classes that offer skills you can use to improve your self-care goals. Always talk to the CE provider before the class to ensure you are spending your money wisely.
  5. Stretch between sessions. Take a couple minutes to lift your arms up and open your chest. Keep your wrists flexible by stretching them.
  6. Eliminate negative thinking. When that little voice begins to remind you of all the things wrong in your life, gently remind that voice you have a lot to be thankful for. Turn your focus to what is right in your life and your perspective can change.
  7. Lastly, put yourself first. If you are wiped-out and cannot do another session, then make the decision to take some time off to recuperate.

We’d love to hear your ideas. Please forward any self-care tips you have that might benefit others.

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