by Marybetts Sinclair

In an injury prevention and treatment class I taught recently, the students and I made a list of all the massage-related injuries they had suffered. All but one of the dedicated group of massage therapists had suffered at least one repetitive strain injury. These included:

  • thumb tendinitis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • tendonitis of wrist flexor and extensor muscles
  • shoulder tendonitis
  • thoracic outlet syndrome
  • chronically stooped posture
  • neck and upper back pain.

One student said he had “Blown-out thumb syndrome”!, while another complained that at the end of the day, her hands were so tired she couldn’t even pick up a coffee cup. Interestingly, the only injury-free student in the class was a long-time massage therapist and a dedicated weight lifter.

Time was then spent on what might have led to their injuries, and how they could be prevented once the therapist was healed again. From there we went on with helping each therapist come up with a combination of useful, effective steps to minimize damage from massage, depending upon their massage style of choice, body type, and personal preferences. Altogether, these might include:

  • stretching
  • strengthening with various types of exercise
  • postural awareness
  • hydrotherapy treatments
  • self-massage
  • fine-tuning massage techniques.

It became obvious that each therapist had heard bits and pieces of this information when going to massage school but needed to hear some of the information repeated again, and also to have the parts woven into a whole by someone who had spent decades thinking about performing massage and avoiding injury.

A major new piece of information I can now impart to students is how I healed my severe comminuted elbow fracture of 2 years ago.  Since the bone was broken into seven fragments, I was told I might never perform massage again, and  narrowly escaped getting an artificial elbow joint-that would have ended my massage career for sure! The tools I had learned over my years as an LMT helped me have a great rehabilitation and return to work pain-free . Students left with more knowledge and greater confidence on how to adapt their new knowledge to their current situation.

Marybetts will be teaching Injury Prevention & Treatment for LMTs on February 10th, 2018 in Salem. Please call 800-844-3420 to register.

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