Self-care tips for the Massage Therapist

Self-care tips for the massage therapist
Theodore Wallis
The Muscle Mechanics Owner
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Like athletes whose sport is their livelihood, we massage therapists rely on high-performing bodies. We might not be sprinting around or ducking any punches, but to do our job efficiently, enjoyably and without injury, we still need to think of our bodies as athletic tools and care for them accordingly. So who takes care of us massage therapists? 

Today, the answer is you. If you want to show up for work at your finest, it’s time to start looking after yourself!

Self-care tips for the Massage Therapist

It’s the simple stuff that we often forget, as we’re usually focussing in on our clients’ pain points, rather than our own. Integrating a warm-up, a cool-down, the principles of progressive loading, and resetting your mechanics throughout the day will give you great return on investment. If you want to do a physical job like massage therapy for the long term, you need to focus back in on yourself and start making self-care a habit, not a treat.

Plus, the longer, and more comfortably, you can function — the more patients you can treat!

Why warm up?

Realistically, we may not need to warm up as thoroughly or for as long as Serena Williams or Misty Copeland, but the core principles are still the same.

There are quite a few benefits to warming up. We consider it an important preparation to our day because it allows us to:

  • get our tissues gliding
  • increase blood flow
  • make sure we are operating at our full range of motion, and,
  • check our joint positioning for the upcoming activities.

This increases the efficiency of our body while we work, and reduces the risk of injury. Ultimately, warming up thoroughly will result in being able to go harder, for longer.

There are lots of postural adjustment and stretching options that are useful to integrate into your warm-up. It’s important to do your own research and construct a warm up that works for you.

As massage therapists, we must take care of our hands and forearms. We should also be checking that our shoulders and upper body are well-positioned. Hip and lower body mobility is also vital. You want to ensure your pelvis has the ability to maintain a balanced, strong position while we work.

There are lots of postural adjustment and stretching options that are useful to integrate into your warm-up. It’s important to do your own research and construct a warm up that works for you.

Reset between clients

It’s easy to want to squeeze in clients back-to-back — we get it! We all have bills to pay. However, giving yourself time to reset is vital for the longevity of your career.

Resetting your body between sessions will help you to maintain strong positioning and good posture. This will allow you to do your job better, and more comfortably.

Schedule in enough breaks throughout the day to unwind, reset and refuel your body – you want to be a role model to your clients, not the massage therapist that needs a massage! If you can, build a few extra minutes at the beginning and end of each appointment slot for your reset.

The core principles of resetting between clients are the same as your initial warm-up, so you should notice results using the same exercises.

Cooling down

If you’ve had a full schedule, you know how physically exhausted your body can be. Cooling down is just as important as your warm up and re-setting exercises. Don’t shoot out the door towards home before you’ve gotten your cool-down in!

The idea of cooling down is to reset your body back to a good position after a day under load. Taking this time means your muscles will be less likely to tighten up and stagnate.

Cooling down dissipates metabolic waste products like lactic acid from the muscle and reduces muscle soreness. It’s been proven that stretching after exercise is an effective way to increase flexibility, which reduces tension and resistance in muscle tissues.

We might know all of these things — but we still need to practice what we preach.

We might know all of these things — but we still need to practice what we preach.

Spend time winding down at the end of your treatments with a few well targeted static stretches, postural adjustment exercises and flush your forearms with self-massage. This is the perfect opportunity to include some preventative exercises. Eccentric exercises are a research-proven way to soothe tendon inflammation and help to strengthen wrists and forearms so you can deliver the very best treatments without the risk of overuse injury.

Try including 3 sets of 15 repetitions in your cool-down routine and see if you notice results.

Overall, a smart cool-down routine will prep your body for the next day, so you’re ready to take on another full calendar of clients. Give it a try!

Progressive Loading and Rest Days

It’s important to keep your workload tolerable. You’ll burn out if you go too hard too fast (without warming up your own body), and if you schedule in back-to-back appointments. Remember to match any increase in loading with an increase in rest and recovery.

If you’re new to massage or have had a break from work, build your endurance slowly by spacing out appointments intelligently, as well as taking rest days every week — two in a row if possible. Build the break time in your schedule, so that you’re not accidentally taking too many bookings.

Progressive loading will give your body time to adapt to stresses without the risk of overuse injuries.


As a therapist, your attitude, mood and energy levels have a direct impact on your clients — if you’re feeling tired, they will feel it.

Staying well hydrated throughout the day will keep you feeling fresh and help you stay positive.

There are proven benefits to staying hydrated, and many of these are vital for us massage therapists:

  • You need water to transport nutrients to your cells and waste products out of the body – this will keep your tissue healthy.
  • Drinking enough h20 ensures good joint health, as the cartilage lining these is made up of 65-80% water.
  • Staying hydrated helps combat fatigue. If your cells are dehydrated, they cannot create energy to function. Hydration also improves cognitive function, keeping you focussed and alert.

Alert, full of energy, mobile and healthy: making sure you’re drinking water regularly is definitely worth the effort.

Self-care tips for the massage therapist

Self-care is vital in massage therapy. Being smart about taking care of yourself is not only vital for your own well-being, but it’s vital for the wellbeing of your business.

An unhappy, worn-out therapist is unable to effectively treat clients.

At The Muscle Mechanics, we work hard to practice self-care. Because of this, we’re able to comfortably perform upwards of 30 hours of deep tissue and sports massage, 5 days a week.

Good self-care gives you longevity, meaning you can treat more patients to the best of your ability.

Clients know when you are putting in your best effort, and when you’re not. Be sure that part of that effort is going towards yourself.

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