Longevity and Self Care and Injury Prevention
for Massage Therapists …
ON SELF CARE ISSUES
The following quote was on the website Massage School Information, and below that appears my (David Scott Lynn, DSL) response to that quote. It’s important to note, we do NOT feel there needs to be such a high “burn out rate” in the massage professions We believe the problems mentioned are VERY preventable, and in the rare cases they do happen, VERY treatable.
But of course, you need to understand the source of the problems and how best to treat them. We see a significant blind spot in those areas in the therapeutic massage & bodywork industry.
“The burn out rate within the industry has been estimated at 50 to 88% within the first 3 to 5 years after graduation according to a study completed by Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, a reputable industry organization. Enrollment statistics seem to support this with over 50,000 students enrolling per year with 45,000 that leave the field annually.” [emphasis added ~DSL]
MY (DSLs) COMMENT in the comments Section:
“I’ve been in the massage & bodywork field for over 35 years. Some of my work requires exerting fairly strong, sustained pressure on a specific muscle for relatively long periods of time with very little movement. [That can lead to a bit of “stagnation” if you’re not careful.]
“However, I do believe in not forcing tissues, and waiting for each layer of muscle to relax and release before going down to deeper layers. My clients, including many massage therapists, often express amazement at my endurance over all these years, rarely getting “burnt out.” …
“Yet I incorporate a *No Pain, MORE Gain* philosophy:
“It’s easier to open the door before you try to walk through it;
and you can’t peel an onion from the inside out.”
“… so I’m never exerting enough pressure to hurt the client, which also prevents me from stressing my own joints & muscles as much as some therapists do.
(I continually monitor the pressure within my own joints to feel if they are getting too compressed. That is easier for me, having done MANY hours of yoga over the years, which increases the ability to feel such subtle things.)
“Ironically, word has it that I get MUCH deeper into the soft tissues than do the so-called “deep tissue therapists,” and I stay in and treat those tissues longer, more specifically, and more thoroughly, because the client is not resisting my pressure.
“I don’t go deeper until the client says YES! …
(Again, You can’t peel an onion from the inside out!)
“I use the same approach with my own self treatments of my own muscles, as well.
“The few times I’ve had “soft tissue issues” with my own arms & hands, or shoulders or neck, I resolved it with either yoga stretching (of which there are many very specific stretches, a few of which I adopted & adapted from Aikido stretching [for the arms & hands], and you don’t usually see much of in yoga texts or trainings), or I use self treatment with self-applied, hands-on therapy; the same techniques I use with clients.
“Sometimes, I use massage tools to make the process more efficient.
“In yoga stretching, similar to my hands-on approach, I use a very long, slow, gradual, and very specific stretching techniques, also with the No Pain, More Gain approach.
“What has been SHOCKING to me is how many massage therapists do not seem to be able to resolve their own pain issues. And I participated in massage school classes recently and was further shocked that school instructors were unable to provide the needed relief — nor education — for so many of the problems of their students!
“I of course attempted to provide such needed relief to my fellow students without making it TOO obvious how deficient the massage training program was. But I was not always successful at that, as it indirectly challenged the authority and competence of the class instructors.
“Worse, many of the students were already having [soft tissue] problems, even before going full time as massage therapists. This would have provided a wide range of opportunities for students to learn from case studies of their fellow students.
“Why massage school protocols do not revolve around the specific clinical needs of each individual student — which can be archived and presented as Clinical Case Studies — can only be explained by the corporate take over of the massage industry. The corporate financialization of massage therapy explains why the individual needs of each student go unaddressed.
“The corporate model of business, though not necessarily, tends to break the [deeper, more intimate] connections between individual humans within the corporate structure.
“But if Clients DO receive or use massage therapy for therapeutic purposes, it’s usually cross fiber, stripping, heat or icing, etc., and frequently very painful. [And apparently NOT very effective.]
“I don’t do any of that. If it’s below the elbow (for example), I (usually) find the muscle in the forearm that controls the bones in the wrist, hands, or fingers (or passes through the wrist and is irritated within the wrist) and do the slow, steady pressure treatment on the hardest, tightest spots in the relevant muscle bellies in the forearm.
“Of course, sometimes it’s an irritated brachial plexus in the neck or shoulder, and so the scalenes (in the neck) need releasing. But it seems a lot of therapists are afraid of treating the scalenes too thoroughly. There seems to be a fear of damaging the neck somehow.
“Yes, if you go into the neck muscles too deep, too fast, for too long, without the gradual intervention discussed above, you can very much irritate the tissues. Our intent is to go Slow Enough that, if possible, we NEVER irritate the tissues, and NEVER trigger a negative reaction in the Client.
“We believe THAT is the proper formula for getting the most progress in the last amount of time.
“YES, it might seem “slow” in the beginning. Yet most Clients very soon experience that the “slow entry approach” provides MUCH more progress in a MUCH shorter period of time.
“And it often takes a fair amount of time to find the REAL culprits causing problems. … I even treated one NMT practitioner whose trigger points for her wrist pain (pseudo-carpal tunnel) were in her lateral abdominal wall!
“You never know where you’re going to find the originating trigger areas! It often takes a lot of exploration to find them.
“For about a year and a half, I worked almost exclusively on musicians (mostly cello, violin & viola, and some pianists) in the Boston area with severe, potentially career-ending pains in elbows, arms or hands, or shoulder girdle and neck. Many of them had been going to a physical therapy group specializing in musician’s problems.
“I observed some of their treatment sessions. The PTs were using in PT (heat, ice, TENS, etc.) and also trained (somewhat surprisingly) in using neuromuscular therapy and myofascial release, as well as the slide & glide stroking and stripping.
“Again, I was amazed that these PTs never got deep enough into the layers of muscle, nor did they spend enough time with specific pressure on specific “hard spots” (musculo-fascial “knots”) in any of the muscles to get deep enough. (Although at least they WERE working some in the forearms, which many hand therapist do NOT, many only focusing on the hand itself, apparently not realizing MOST of the power generated in the hands is actually from muscles originating in the forearms.)
“It must also be acknowledged that some people have irritations in their skin & superficial fascia, requiring something similar to skin rolling (but not so aggressively it causes pain).
“Anyway, I believe MANY if not MOST of the musculoskeletal problems experienced by most therapists could be resolved with proper manual & stretching therapy in a (comparatively) very short period of time. But I rarely meet a therapist who seems to know how to do the kind of work necessary to relax the chronic, excess muscle & nerve tension & stress (what I call C.E.M.&N.T.). …
“And although I recently took a 700 hour program from what was supposed to be one of THE top therapeutic schools in the country, they NEVER addressed these issues to any significant degree. So massage school education might well be VERY lacking in this regard, although I only directly experienced one school as a full time student.
“Yet any conversations with many massage school graduates reveal a similar situation.”
Preventive Longevity and Self Care Strategies for Massage & Bodywork Therapists.
I have a description of he specifics of how we handle Self Care and Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists on a different page.
However, it’s important to note we do not feel nor observe these injuries are necessary, and if they do happen they are mostly very treatable. We do not believe there needs to be such a high rate of people leaving the field, especially not from physical injuries.
We teach therapists how to treat such soft tissue issues, and very few of them develop such injuries.
One benefit is if there are a lot of therapists getting burned our or injured, this can become a potential client base for properly trained therapists.
One could become The Therapist’s Therapist!
Thanks for Reading,
David Scott Lynn (DSL*)
* DSL: Your Hi-Touch Up-Link to the Inner-Net*
* Inner-Net: Your Psycho-Neuro-Musculo-Fascial System