It’s a typical Monday. Nearly every slot on your calendar is filled. While being that busy is good for your bottom line, it might not bode so well for your body. After spending hours working the sore muscles of others, you might experience some aches of your own. To keep your business viable and your body healthy, you need to practice regular self-care techniques.
The physical stress of giving massage can lead to injuries. To prevent and reduce the risk of such an event, it’s important to adopt this simple stretching routine.
1. Start with Your Neck
Melissa Finley, owner of Mending Hands, created a booklet on self-care exercises, specifically designed for the massage therapist. One of her first stretches applies to therapists who see clients, but also do a lot of computer work. To stretch the neck she suggests gently bringing one ear to that same shoulder; look down toward the ground, holding the stretch for 15 seconds. Don’t forget to repeat on the other side.
2. Pec Stretch
Finley recommends the “doorway” stretch to open up the pecs. Grasp a doorway with the side you’d like to stretch. Hold onto the doorway and turn your body away; keep your other hand over your heart. Determining how high to hold your hand on the doorway might require some experimentation. Be sure to keep the elbow bent on the arm you are stretching.
Renaissance College takes a cue from the clock to stretch the chest. Begin the stretch by standing sideways, close to a wall, with your arm extended overhead. Work your way down the numbers on an imaginary clock, keeping your arm close to the wall while facing forward. If the stretch is too intense, turn your body toward the wall. If it’s not intense enough, turn your body away from the wall.
3. Hand and Forearm Strengthening
Exercise.com recommends squeezing a rubber ball to strengthen and stretch the forearm and increase circulation in your hand.
4. Quads and Hamstrings
Don’t forget about the legs. Although your upper body may do most of the work during massage, you still have to rely on your legs to support you. For tight quadriceps, BAC Massage Therapy recommends holding onto a chair or other stable surface as you bend one leg and grasp it with your hand. Be sure to keep your abdominal muscles pulled in and hold the stretch for 15 – 20 seconds. Do three times on each side.
To balance out the legs, you should also stretch the hamstrings. BAC Massage Therapy suggests sitting on the floor with one leg outstretched, the other foot close to the extended leg’s inner thigh. Lean forward over the extended leg, keeping the back straight. Stretch only as far as is comfortable. Repeat three times on each leg, holding for 15 – 20 seconds.
5. Prioritize Self-Care
Taking a few minutes every day to stretch out the muscles that work so hard for you may help preserve your personal health and extend your career.