It’s ironic that massage therapists and bodyworkers, whose job it is to help alleviate pain and rehabilitate injuries in their clients, often fall victim to repetitive stress injuries and physical pain while providing services. Once therapists graduate from massage school, they’re often so busy trying to work hard enough to make a living, they often neglect to take care of their own bodies.

Although massage might not seem like a dangerous career, countless bodywork practitioners have become physically burned out or injured and had to leave the field for less physically demanding professions. And though massage schools are starting to focus more on proper posture and body mechanics, there are many school programs that fail to properly address how massage therapists can safeguard themselves against injury and burnout.

If you’re extremely tired or in significant pain after a day of providing massage, poor body mechanics is likely the cause. Although everyone is different, experts note experienced massage therapists should, on average, be able to give between four and five massage per day, five days a week, without experiencing excessive fatigue or pain. Furthermore, even if you aren’t presently suffering from pain or fatigue, using improper body mechanics often leads to career-threatening injuries.

One of the best and easiest ways to safeguard oneself from injury and burnout is to take regular home study courses in proper body mechanics for massage therapists. Even if you took a few classes in body mechanics in massage school, it pays to keep yourself regularly updated on such techniques to ensure a long, injury-free career.

Additionally, since most body mechanics courses are approved as accepted continuing education units (CEUs) by state licensing boards and national professional organizations, these classes can satisfy both your requirements for CE credits and your need to protect your body and career. So before registering for home study courses in body mechanics, check with your state licensing body and/or professional organizations to make sure the courses you want to take are approved.

The best courses in body mechanics will teach you how to effectively use your arms and hands to deliver high-quality massage without stress or injury. Additionally, many courses focus specifically on your posture, stance and body alignment, so you can keep your stamina and energy up even when delivering several massages a day. Finally, there are a few specialized home study courses that teach specific massage techniques and modalities that utilize other parts of the body, such as the forearms, to provide massage, so you can take some of the strain off your hands, wrists and thumbs.

You owe it to yourself to stay educated in proper body mechanics. After all, you likely invested lots of time and money to become trained in massage. By ignoring the sound ergonomic principles taught in body mechanics courses, you stand to lose not only your massage career, but also all of the previous money and effort you put into becoming a therapist in the first place. Taking home study courses in body mechanics can help prevent such a tragic loss, while also aiding in the prevention of burnout and injury, as well as increasing your energy level and the number of massages you perform each day.

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail cmreuben@yahoo.com.

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