Working as a massage therapist can be a rewarding career with endless opportunities to help clients who are dealing with a myriad of ailments, including chronic pain, stress and anxiety. However, providing this service impacts the therapist’s own physical and mental well-being.
Even with extensive education in body mechanics and ergonomics, and careful attention to providing this care in the best possible way, this work can take a toll on the therapist’s physical health.
MTs’ Common Pain Complaints
Backaches, fatigue, hand pain and chronic inflammation are just a few of the common physical ailments experienced by massage therapists. Therapists can also experience mental fatigue or even exhaustion from working so closely and consistently with those suffering from pain and illness.
The nature of the work of a massage therapist requires you to spend most of your day standing on your feet, leading to swollen feet and legs, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and an increased risk of back pain.
This work often leads to repetitive use injuries, making them quite common in this industry. This type of injury can affect the elbows, shoulders, wrists, knees or other joints. It may also lead to an increased risk of osteoarthritis.
In fact, a study published by Health SA Gesondheid reported, “Due to the stress and strain placed on the massage therapist’s hands daily, there may be a possible relationship between massage therapy as an occupation and premature osteoarthritic symptoms of the hands.”
The Massage Therapy Foundation also reports that many therapists working in this industry have been forced to leave their jobs due to injury. These injuries can lead to chronic inflammation and pain.
Due to the many ways massage therapists can experience physical and mental stress and pain, a self-care plan is essential. Incorporating CBD into that self-care plan can significantly enhance the ability to limit and manage some of the most common stressors, pain, and even injuries suffered by massage therapists.
While most of you are probably aware of CBD and its powerful, yet gentle plant-based components, let’s review why CBD can be such an important part of a self-care plan.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates and controls many of your most critical bodily functions, including pain control and inflammatory and immune responses. Thus it plays a vital role in the human body. It comprises a vast network of chemical signals and cellular receptors, including a high concentration in the neurons within your brain, your immune cells and throughout your body.
The ECS plays a crucial role in maintaining steady and effective functioning (homeostasis) throughout the body, including the brain, immune and endocrine systems. It has a vast scope of influence due to an abundance of cannabinoid receptors found throughout your body.
There is hardly any biological or physiological system in your body in which endocannabinoids do not take part.
The ECS effectively acts as the master switchboard to help create balance throughout the body. CBD interacts with your ECS by influencing receptors within that system, occupying enzymes, and enhancing your natural levels of endocannabinoids, thus allowing your ECS to work more effectively.
Clinical studies1 also confirmed that CBD helps manage inflammation. It does this by reducing the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, inhibiting T cell proliferation, inducing T cell apoptosis, and reducing migration and adhesion of immune cells.
All of this makes CBD a great tool in helping massage therapists manage many of the detrimental impacts on their health and well-being which they experience in their career.
3 Ways to Use CBD for Self-Care
Since CBD has been so highly effective in helping with various forms of stress and pain, massage therapists worldwide have added CBD to their self-care routine to manage pain and extend their careers.
When choosing your CBD product, it is especially important that you choose a high-quality product to ensure you maximize the substantial benefits of using these products. All CBD products are not created equal.
It is also helpful to know that CBD comes in various forms, including topicals, tinctures, gummies, capsules, bath bombs and bath salts. The reason for the use, including the physical or mental stress to which the user is directed, may impact the form you choose. However, the variety of products available makes adding CBD to your self-care routine a breeze.
1. Topical Creams and Ointments
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and has many cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. It is a multifaceted, homeostatic regulator of your body. Using topical CBD oils and creams in pain management can enhance your skin’s ability to carry these functions more effectively.
Topical pain relief creams and ointments have been specifically formulated for effective absorption, offering penetrating short-term pain relief from minor arthritic symptoms, including joint pain and stiffness. High-quality CBD topicals often combine the pain-fighting power of over-the-counter ingredients like menthol and camphor with the all-natural pain-relieving benefits of CBD.
According to Jen Palmer, ND, Director of Education for Charlotte’s Web, “Not only is using a cream intuitive and familiar, but it’s also a highly efficient mode of administration because it bypasses a process known as first-pass metabolism. When you take something for pain relief by mouth, it has to pass through the liver and the digestive system first, which means you lose a great deal of its effect before it even gets into your bloodstream to address where you hurt.
“This doesn’t happen with a topical cream,” Palmer continued. “Therefore, applying cream directly to your skin can make the ingredients more effective, as the active ingredients do not need to enter the bloodstream, instead of going to work at the point of pain.” [Disclosure: The author of this article is the key opinion leader for Charlotte’s Web.]
Thus, rubbing a high-quality CBD topical directly on areas of pain, especially pain caused by inflammation, can help reduce that inflammation and decrease or eliminate pain. This has been verified not only by the clinical studies mentioned previously, but also by the fact that many massage therapists say that while using a topical CBD cream to treat their client’s pain, they also enjoy the pain-relieving benefits.
2. CBD-Infused Bath Salts or Bath Bombs
When a massage therapist feels stressed or tired after a long day of seeing clients, a hot bath can be just the thing they need to help them feel better. This experience can be enhanced by adding the relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
Our skin is full of CB2 receptors, which eagerly receive the cannabinoid CBD, maximizing the healing and soothing experience of the bath. It is the perfect way to help you relax and unwind after a physically demanding day.
Additionally, CBD-infused bath bombs and salts often contain other ingredients like trace minerals and essential oils. Examples include Magnesium Chloride and Magnesium Sulfate, two forms of magnesium commonly found in bath salts.
Our bodies use magnesium as building blocks for over 300 internal reactions that help improve our moods, muscles and well-being. Deficiencies of magnesium can result in cramps, fatigue and mental health disorders. Soaking in a CBD bath salt with high magnesium levels may help your body overcome its deficiency.
CBD bath bombs and salts may also have essential oils which add to their effectiveness. The stress-relieving benefits of CBD could thus be further enhanced by terpenes like lavender, which can also help promote a relaxing environment for you to let go and unwind. Beyond the numerous benefits of CBD bath salts already discussed, they may also provide relief from skin conditions such as rashes, eczema and psoriasis.
3. CBD Gummies
Gummies can be a great alternative to CBD capsules and oils when you are interested in trying to add a consumable CBD into your routine. Gummies are often paired with other quality terpenes, vitamins and minerals. This powerful combination can help solve some difficult obstacles that challenge massage therapists.
For example, a good night’s sleep is critical for a busy massage therapist to manage the physical demands placed on them with a full schedule of clients. It gives your body a chance to rest and renew.
When CBD is paired with a reliable sleep aid like melatonin, and the rest of hemp’s naturally occurring phytocannabinoids, it can help give you the support you need for sound, quality sleep and regular sleep cycles.
Other additives like ginger and turmeric combined with CBD in gummies can target pain caused by inflammation and give you relief to make it through a physically demanding day of seeing clients.
Help Your Body with CBD for Self-Care
Your body is your tool and your most valuable asset. It helps to remember that your tool needs regular maintenance and self-care, just like any other machine. Pain, anxiety, stress and sleeplessness can significantly limit your ability to enjoy a long and healthy career to its fullest and carry out your important work.
However, by adding CBD to your self-care routine, you can minimize pain and maximize your well-being, allowing you to feel better while doing the work you love!
About the Author
Pamela Heavner is the owner of Proactive Massage & Bodywork and the author of “CBD Massage—The step-by-step guide to increase revenue in your Massage Therapy practice.” She is serving as the key opinion leader for CBD company Charlotte’s Web. Heavner is also the founder of Hand to Heart, a volunteer organization that offers complimentary massage therapy to those struggling with grief and the loss of a loved one.