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February 19, 2018 Amelia Wilcox

7 Effective Self-Care Tips for Massage Therapists

Massage therapists work to help people feel their very best, because when a person feels their best they can give their best to the world too.

Massage therapy can be a comfortable, rewarding, and long-lasting career. There are some ways to help you achieve this with a greater sense of ease because the work that you do should feel good for you.

The last thing you want is to get burnt out or injured from overwork. In this article, we’ll give you 7 key tips for massage therapist self-care.



7 Ideas for Massage Therapist Self Care


Self care is a popular topic lately. And while many people might consider getting a massage self-care, what about the massage therapists giving those massages?

A career in massage therapy can be hard on your body if you’re not careful. To ensure a long-lasting career, you’ve got to take some time to keep your body, mind, and spirit happy. Here are 7 effective ideas for massage therapist self care.


self care for massage therapist


1. Make your self care a priority.

Being a massage therapist requires you to advise your clients about wellness from a place of experience.

It may sound simple, and perhaps it is: practice what you preach.

It is important that we, as massage therapists, are able to take our own advice. We give some pretty good wellness advice after all. When we do this we are able to serve as inspiring and credible examples for our clients.


2. It’s all in the forearms and elbows.

Soft tissue injuries such as RSI’s (repetitive stress injuries) and CTD’s (cumulative trauma disorders) are on the rise for massage therapists and stem from overuse.

We know that there will be times when you will need to use your hands and fingers during a session, but if you don’t need to, try to avoid it. Instead, let your forearms and elbows do the work for you.

The obvious exceptions are when you’re making a contact hold with your client or when you are performing very light effleurage or petrissage strokes to warm up superficial tissues.

Aside from those situations, if you can use your forearms and elbows instead, try it. Your hands and wrists just might thank you later.


massage therapy body mechanics


3. Use proper body mechanics. 

When working on a client, make sure that your stance is adjusted accordingly.

In other words: work smarter not harder.

You can begin to position yourself by first observing your feet, making sure that they are positioned towards your client and planted firmly on the ground. Ensure that your knees are slightly bent and that your hips, shoulders, and head are also in alignment.

Related: Chair Massage Techniques to Save Your Thumbs


4. Practice meditation.

There are many different kinds of meditations out there, and the various health benefits that meditation has been shown to contribute to are vast and plenty.

Research shows that practicing meditation can significantly reduce symptoms related to conditions like anxiety, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

You can practice meditating at home by yourself or in a group setting. We encourage you to find something that feels right for you. The more comfortable that you feel, the easier it will be for you to relax your mind and focus on your breathing.

When you notice thoughts come into your mind try to acknowledge them and watch them pass like clouds overhead. You will be amazed by how much peace of mind meditation can bring your career and overall daily life.

Related: Breathing Exercises for Workplace Stress Relief


self care techniques for LMTs


5. Stay grounded, before and after sessions.

Master the art of letting things go. Your clients will come to you in all different kinds of emotional states.

The massage room is a place where your clients should be able to feel safe to let go of any and all emotions that do not serve them. This emotional release can take a many different forms. For example, some people like to vent during sessions and others may even experience a somato-emotional release.

Whatever the case may be, it is important to make sure that you do not take on their emotional state throughout the rest of your sessions and into the rest of your day.

Visualizing techniques and setting intentions at the beginning of each session can help you achieve this. Some massage therapists even like to use sage to energetically cleanse themselves after their work day.

If sage isn’t for you, try to at least take a moment at the end of your work day to mentally release any stress or emotions you may have picked up during your work.


6. Give yourself a thumb massage.

Do you know that you have over thirty muscles in each of your hands?

Get acquainted with your thenar eminence muscles. The thenar eminence is the muscle largely responsible for thumb pain.

Here’s a great way to massage it:

1. Stack two fingers or use your knuckles to work the entire area.

2. Perform 3-second trigger point holds to release the thenar eminence and massage the area where the thenar eminence attaches to the thumb bone too.

3. Gently twist and pull up the thumb.

4. Work the metacarpal phalangeal joint. Grip the top and bottom webbing with two thumbs and then do a twist and pull motion.

5. Massage the wrist and forearm by gripping with a cupped hand and twisting while pressing into the muscles, making sure not to forget to work the tendon of the wrist.

Note: Deep friction strokes with the knuckles on the radial side of your wrist can feel great here.


massage therapist self care ideas


7. Discover the magic of foam rollers.

These should be helpful to use on yourself to lengthen and loosen any tight muscles.

Stabilize the foam roller with your hands and place it towards your low back, slowly laying down onto it. Use the strength of your abdomen to help lower yourself down safely. Relax your arms onto your abdomen as you begin to roll out your thoracic spine.

*Tip: Get a soft foam roller, so as to make the foam rolling experience as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

By bringing your hands up and cradling your head, you can incorporate some lateral work into your self-care practice and target muscles like your rotator cuffs and rhomboids.

To work the erector spine muscles, you can cross your arms and slightly turn. Massage the lats, and serrates anterior by moving into a position on your side and then bring your hand up to your head and relax.

You can work the gluteus muscles by rolling down to your ischial tuberosity and even increase the pressure by turning to one side. Turning and rolling up to the iliac crest will allow you to work your gluteus medium and SI joint.

A special tip: Try to relax as much as possible and position the foam roller onto your sacrum as you swivel your hips back and forth.


Massage Therapy Self Care: A Critical Step in Your Practice

Whether you work for a massage company or have a private practice (or both), self care is crucial to a long and healthy career in massage therapy.

Want more tips for massage therapists?

Check out our YouTube channel for regular massage training videos:


Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)