Maintaining good physical conditioning is important as part of your personal injury prevention strategy. Strengthening exercises and stretches should be part of your conditioning program, but not all exercises and stretches are appropriate for massage therapists.
For most massage therapists, the hands and arms are overtaxed by their work. So as a general rule, you’ll want to avoid any exercises that:
- Place a great deal of pressure on the hands, wrists or forearms.
- Require repetitive movements using the hand, wrist or forearm muscles.
- Put your hands or wrists into awkward postures.
A great example is push-ups. Push-ups are a great core-strengthening exercise. But when you do a push-up, the weight of your upper body is supported by your hands.
When there are so many other great core-strengthening exercises you can do, why put so much stress on your already overused hands and wrists? Try a plank instead. You can do the plank on your forearms, which form a broad, flat surface that is much less likely to be injured by the weight of your upper body.
Remember to also be careful with your back, neck and shoulders as you exercise and stretch. These are also overused in massage work and can be easily injured by exercises or stretches that are too strenuous for these vulnerable body parts.
Reproduced with permission from Save Your Hands! The Complete Guide to Injury Prevention and Ergonomics for Manual Therapists, 2nd Edition, , C.E.A.S., and Richard W. Goggins, C.P.E., L.M.P., © 2008 Gilded Age Press, www.saveyourhands.com.