Massage therapy is a profession that requires proper self-care and body mechanics in order to prevent musculoskeletal injury from overuse. Recovery from overuse injuries requires time and patience, but with the proper care and reassessment of technique and body mechanics, full recovery is often possible.

Overuse injuries often sneak up subtly over time. The damage begins long before you experience any symptoms, so even if you feel strong and healthy now, your body mechanics may cause pain and discomfort down the road. Don't wait for the first sign of pain to reevaluate your massage techniques.

The key to injury recovery is to work smarter, not harder. You may need complete rest from labor-intensive work for a period of time in order for the injured body part to fully heal. Taking advantage of the healing power of bodywork as part of your massage self-care may help speed your recovery.

As frustrating as an injury can be, it's also an opportunity to rethink your whole approach to massage therapy. You may discover through this process of reflection a new vision and energy for bodywork that drives you to improve your technique or shift into a new form of bodywork.

Improving your body mechanics includes reassessing the foundation of your approach to massage. Focus on the basics of ergonomics and body awareness. As you relearn technique, open yourself up to change, even minor changes. Even if you think your technique is flawless, there may be a subtle change you can make that reduces the stress on your body and prevents reinjury.

Fine-tune your technique by studying your body movement in front of a mirror. Practice on a friend or family member with a mirror across from the massage table until you feel comfortable with the new technique. Watching your technique in the mirror promotes self-awareness and constructs a more objective framework for self-assessment.

Adjust the height of the massage table to your own height, your client's needs, and your modality. If you use a pneumatic rolling stool, adjust the height for proper body alignment. A healthy mix of sitting on a massage stool and standing prevents you from working in the same position all day and helps to balance stress throughout the body.

Working in two or three modalities or types of bodywork also balances out the stress load of your body. Consider diversifying your bodywork practice to include less demanding modalities, such as Hawaiian lomi lomi, barefoot massage, shiatsu, hot stones, and energy work.

If you choose to specialize largely in one modality, expand your technique by massaging with your forearms, fists, elbows, and knuckles to alleviate undue stress on your wrists, thumbs, and fingers. If you place excessive demands on any one body part, you are opening the door to reinjury.

When you are ready to ease back into massage therapy, make the transition a gradual one. Start with one session per week and increase your number of sessions very gradually. Learn your limits and respect them. It's better to increase the intensity of your massage routine too slowly than to risk reinjury.

Neglecting self-care and proper body mechanics as a massage therapist may threaten your ability to provide your clients with the quality of treatment they deserve. The more self-care and self-awareness you practice, the better your chances of a long and healthy career in massage therapy.

Author's Bio: 

Copyright 2009 OneTouch Massage. For quality massage tables, pneumatic rolling stools, and massage supplies at wholesale prices, visit OneTouch Massage at Get up to 50% off retail and Free Shipping on all orders!

Learn more about self-care for massage therapists at the OneTouch Massage Blog.

Jesse K. Taylor is an SEO copywriter and blogger for OneTouch Massage, an innovative leader in the massage table industry. OneTouch strives to satisfy the professional therapist and home user alike with quality craftsmanship, affordable pricing, and responsive customer service. OneTouch invests 10% of your purchase back into the community through integrity-driven organizations that lend a helping hand to those in need. At OneTouch, we help you touch the lives of those around you and the lives of your neighbors around the world.

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