, C.E.A.S., and Richard W. Goggins, C.P.E., L.M.P.
We’ve often noticed that massage therapists who have been working without injury for many years tend to frequently change their position in relationship to their clients as they work. Instead of standing in one place for minutes at a time, they seem to be in constant movement, changing their position nearly every time they change the stroke they are using.
Changing your position has many advantages. Therapists often get into awkward postures because they try to do too many different techniques in just one position, almost as though they are glued to the floor. Moving around the table and changing your angle to the client as you change techniques will make it easier to make frequent adjustments to your posture. This allows you to remain in near-neutral postures as you work and avoid static loading and the muscular tension it causes, which is another risk factor for injury. Moving around the table encourages you to breathe and keeps your circulation going, both great for keeping your tissues oxygenated and pliable, which cuts down your injury risk.
Another advantage is avoiding repetitive movement, one of the “Big 3” risk factors for injury (along with awkward postures and hand force). Therapists who stay in one position tend to repeat the same stroke repeatedly, often using the same part of the hand or arm. Moving encourages you to change strokes, and can also be a reminder to change from using a flat palm to a fist or a forearm, constantly looking for new ways to perform techniques. This flexibility, fluidity and ease with changing techniques can go a long way toward helping you prevent massage-related injury.
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.