Self Care For Massage Therapists – Without a doubt, massage therapy involves all the strength and movement of the body, but the hands and wrists are probably the stars of the show. So injury prevention is critical to career longevity—your ability to do your job well during the time you choose.
“We need to take care of our hands so we can care for more people,” says Dennis Price, a doctor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “These are the tools of our business. If we don’t take care of ourselves, why should customers come to us?
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Let’s look at some of the most common hand and wrist injuries experienced by massage therapists, along with some self-care strategies to help prevent them.
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Contrary to most body activities in massage, the wrist and hand have many differences. Each hand has 27 distinct bones that give the hand a wide range of motion, with the ulna and radius connecting at the wrist and supporting many of the muscles that control both the wrist and hand.
The eight small bones in each wrist are joined in two parallel rows to form the carpal bone, parallel at its end to match the ulna and radius bones. Tendons, ligaments, and nerves run into the palm of the hand through the carpal tunnel, which is formed by a channel on the palmar side of the wrist. The five thin, long bones of the palm extend from the wrist bones to each finger in the hand.
With all the different aspects of massage therapy work, is it any wonder that injuries among massage therapists are so common?
“The muscles that provide movement in the fingers are mainly located in the forearm,” says Becky SanGregorio, MD, in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.
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. “The flexors and extensors begin at the elbow, but stop in the middle of the forearm and extend to the fingers through the muscles. Most of these muscles pass through the carpal tunnel.”
“The wrist is a simple system with lots of movement in a small area, so it’s still possible to get injured outside of the carpal tunnel,” he added. “The tendons in the extensor portion of the wrist can become irritated as the muscles stretch through them. The median nerve can be damaged when it exits the carpal tunnel at the base of the patient’s palm. “
SanGregorio, Price, and other massage therapists say that improper activation of the wrist, hand, and thumb in particular is the biggest risk factor for injury. “Doctors may think that the thumb is the strongest and most useful finger for the use of force. They are relatively short and—unlike fingers—they have strong muscles. Their base is well built. repair to support them,” said SanGregorio.
But the unique structure of the thumb makes it particularly vulnerable, he notes. The thumb’s action is concentrated in the carpometacarpal (CMC) joint, the saddle joint at the radial end of the carpal bone that enables the finger to strike. When the muscles at the base of the thumb contract to stabilize the joint under pressure equal to the tip of the thumb, the metacarpal bone is pulled into the CMC joint, creating a desire there, he says.
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“For every pound of pressure a doctor applies with their thumb, there can be 10 to 12 pounds of pressure on the CMC joint,” says SanGregorio. “So if a therapist used their thumb to apply 10 pounds of pressure to a stubborn spot, the result could be 120 pounds of force applied to their thumb.”
SanGregorio notes that massaging with flexed wrists is also a no-no. “It stretches the muscles and tendons and keeps things out of alignment,” he says.
Price says trauma among massage therapists falls into two main categories: abusive or abusive. Tendon injuries are difficult to treat, in part because blood flow to the tendon is limited and “the pain takes longer to develop,” he says. The most common hand and wrist injuries in this area include:
Commonly known as DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, this disease involves inflammation of the lining that covers the tendon. It can occur in any joint, but most commonly affects the wrist and hand, caused by filtration and overuse. Symptoms include swelling, pain, redness, and difficulty moving the affected muscles. “Prevention is always best, and nutrition needs to have enough omegas and fats,” says Price. “The warm-up [before the client gets to work] is also very important. The body is like a hydraulic system. . . and with synovial joints, if we move, with three-quarters of the motion, it permeates the joint so that the joint doesn’t get irritated when the muscles move across it. “
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The thumb joint, or CMC, is saddle-shaped, formed by the trapezoid in the wrist and the metacarpal in the thumb. This special shape causes the thumb to rotate up, down and across the palm and pinch. Saddle wounds can manifest as sharp or dull pain, and treatment includes resting the horse and administering both topical and oral antibiotics, says Price. “If a doctor is gliding their hand and their thumb is out to the side and back against the rest of the hand, having a joint very high puts more stress on the doctor,” he said. doctor.
One of the most serious injuries that massage therapists suffer, CTS is caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist. Because the median nerve provides sensation to the palm of the thumb and index, middle, and part of the ring finger, this competition can cause burning, tingling, itching, pain, and/or numbness in most hands. Symptoms often occur at night because many people sleep with the wrist flexed. Reduced hand strength has occurred, causing serious problems for massage therapists when working with clients.
“The work we are doing is very important. “A lot of doctors put the palm down and put too much pressure on the wrist/palm and put that pressure on the muscles,” says Glen Kemp, a doctor in Tampa, Florida. is creating a situation that will almost certainly cause pain.” Treatment options include splinting, avoiding symptoms, medication, and surgery.
The primary goal of many massage therapists is to treat carpal tunnel syndrome in their clients. So it’s ironic, says Price, that CTS “is a problem many doctors have. It’s one of the reasons many people leave the profession and it’s very avoidable.”
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Therapists who regularly perform deep tissue, acupuncture or neuromuscular massage are especially vulnerable, doctors say, because their movements are used with tighter hands and wrists. This risk increases if you regularly change your usage strategies or carefully take care of your body and relationships. “You have to check in with yourself and make sure you’re not putting yourself in awkward positions, such as elbowing your body and keeping your feet in place,” , New Jersey. “Move your body to make the shot, as opposed to pushing and pulling with your hands.”
While pain and weakness are the biggest problems associated with injury, the recovery time required is still huge and how it affects your training. Longevity is important when you have to stop working or cut back because of a persistent injury. “It’s one of the most important, if not the most important, things that can put people out of work,” Price said. “Neck, wrist, and hand pain can get the job done, and it’s frequent.”
Price also adds that using a short break can draw clients to other massage therapists, helping to increase your revenue. “And if you can’t use your hands because of the pain, the quality of the massage won’t be good… [and] the quality of our treatment will become our reputation. This is truly one of the best. issues can be job-changing and important for job satisfaction.”
In addition to moderate exercise and work, a precaution includes taking good care of your wrists and hands yourself. Including:
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Exchange services with colleagues: “There’s nothing better than working with doctors in your area to treat other people’s foreheads,” says Price.
“There are proven methods for reducing occupational injury rates,” says SanGregorio. “Many of them involve simple but important changes to your activities, both at work and elsewhere; others will be more thoughtful and practical. Despite the trauma. was one of a number of massage therapists, but it was never a decision that would happen.”
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