For massage therapists, doing strengthening exercises for the arms and wrists seems like an essential part of a good self-care program. After all, these are the parts of the body most used in massage, so wouldn’t you want to make sure they are as strong as possible to prevent injury?
While it’s true you need strong hands and arms to do your work, it’s important to find a balance between strengthening them and allowing them to rest and recover. If you’ve been working for a while, your hands and arms are already heavily used in your work. Strengthening exercises can potentially overwork these already overused body parts and put them at additional risk for injury. For this reason, for experienced therapists, we recommend doing exercises that work on strengthening the entire upper extremity, rather than repetitive exercises that specifically work the hands or wrists.
On the other hand, if you’re just starting out in the profession, it can be helpful to do strengthening exercises for the hands and wrists to enable you to build the strength you need to do your work. Wrist curls with a light weight or squeezing a ball are good strengthening exercises for novice therapists.
Reproduced with permission from Save Your Hands! The Complete Guide to Injury Prevention and Ergonomics for Manual Therapists, Second Edition , C.E.A.S., and Richard W. Goggins, C.P.E., L.M.P., © 2008 Gilded Age Press. For more information, visit www.saveyourhands.com. Read their blog here.