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Hey, massage therapists!

I'm in school training to a massage therapist. I'm about halfway through my training. They keep warning us about proper body mechanics and how easily we can burn out if we don't have them. On Thursday, we were working the legs and were doing this hamstring stretch where we lift the client's leg onto our shoulder, then lunge their leg into the stretch, out, then in again, then out, then in again. Needless to say, it was incredibly taxing on my body. That night I didn't feel anything odd, but when I woke up Friday, I was in so much pain I could barely walk. It was mostly my glutes and quadratus lumborum. Today I feel fine, but my lower back was in insane pain yesterday. And I did have proper body mechanics!

My question is, does anyone have any suggestions on a sequence of stretching I can do before/after doing a massage to keep this from ever happening again? My fear is that I'll keep doing this and do some severe damage to my lower back.



Sat. Jun 16, 12:03pm

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If it was that taxing to you, it's not a technique you should use.

I've been a full time massage therapist for over a decade, have taught kinesiology, and have never hurt myself working, so I feel I can speak pretty directly to this. If that technique bothers your body, tell your instructor and get an alternative option. Some people are taller, more muscular, have more stability through their hips and low back, whatever it is, that won't leave them with a twinge. There are many ways to accomplish the same goals, including techniques that have the client doing most of the work with a strap. No reason to hurt yourself, or need intensive stretching to use a stroke. Find another way.

Saturday, June 16, 2007, 12:37 PM

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- Build up your lower back muscles. The simplest way to achieve (no equipment, low risk of injury) is to add "supermans" to your workouts. If you do a lot of ab work, you should be doing these anyway to keep keep your core strength in balance.

- If you find that doing this one technique consistently causes you problems, don't do it! Your clients will not notice.

- Try lowering your table a couple of notches when you do a sports massage so that you can employ your leg muscles more when it comes to lifting the leg. At the standard recommended height based on your knuckles, you are using all upper-body.

- Usually massage courses have a component of self-care, where you learn some stretches. The only ones I use (out of necessity) is a series of 6 hand yoga moves that keep my forearms, wrists, fingers and shoulders flexible. My hippie teacher got it from a book called something like "108 hand yogas of the buddha".

- The biggest body mechanic issue you will need to worry about is the state of your thumbs. It's one of the top reasons why the average career span of a female MT is 3 years (we lack the natural strength of a man, so we rely on focusing our weight/strength through our thumbs to achieve depth).

I've been at it for 4 years now and I'm starting to feel it in my right thumb, so I'm becoming an expert at elbow techniques - extremely popular with my clientele, so it turns out. I blame this new problem on weight loss. When I had an extra 50 lbs to put into the techniques, it was easier to achieve depth without really trying.

Saturday, June 16, 2007, 1:01 PM

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i have been a massage therapist for the past 15 yrs, and still am able to do massage on a full time basis. i prefer not to stretch anyone in my sessions. i dont think that it is needed, especially when someone is coming to you for a relaxing massage. you will find your massage....the way you like to do massage.
i agree with 12:37, you shouldnt feel any pain, ask you instructor to review what you are doing, or ask for an alternative way of doing it.
good luck in your new career and enjoy the work, it is a satisfying occupation.

Saturday, June 16, 2007, 2:30 PM

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Thank you all very much for your suggestions.


Saturday, June 16, 2007, 2:56 PM

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