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I was thinking yesterday about how many massages most massage therapists do a week. Most people I do don't do more than 15-20 a week. One person does 25 a week but she is always getting injured.

After a week of many clients with RSI pain, stress and generally too much work it made me start thinking about why massage therapists don't actually work more so that they can make more . I know the demands of the work physically and mentally but heck I feel worse after sitting at the computer for 3 hours than I do doing massage for the same amount of time. I was starting to think that it is just part of the struggling massage therapists image (after reading the book "Making the Switch to Being Rich" by Steve Capellini.

How many hours do you work? What would you have to do in the way of self care to work 30 or more hours a week?

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Hi Julie,

I work 19 hours a week and actually massage for 8-12 hours of that time. I do 2 massages and take a break and do 2 more if they are scheduled. In a five hour day I have 2-4 massages, in my one 4 hour day I do 2-3 massages. Some massages are 90 minutes, and most are 60. The nice thing about where I work is, I get paid for sitting so I don't mind the down time. 30 hours a week for me is not a reality. My back will not allow me to do more than 4 massages in a day on most days. I did do 5 one time and all was oaky. 2 of those massages though were 30 minutes. I see the younger therapists trying to do 30 hours of massages a week and they are having many problems with shoulders, forearms, and wrists. I was encouraged early on not to do deep massage and not to do more than 4 massages in a do. I listened to those words. I do stretches for my back, neck shoulders, arms, etc each day. So far it is working for me.
Hello. I wanted to reply to your question. I set a limit for myself of 4 hours of massage per day, and I work five to six days a week. Sessions are either 60 or 90 minutes and my clients are m/f of all ages and sizes. My average time actually in session varies from 10-15 hours per week. Of course, I would like to be busier, but in reality, no more than 20 hours of deep tissue massage is really the max anyone should be doing. To keep myself from injury, I stretch my body daily and keep up with my hands and arms/shoulders several times a day. Also, to do deeper work, you must be strong, so weight training is essential. During sessions, I am aware of my body mechanics. I would not even consider performing more than 20 hours of deep tissue work per week.
I provide approximately 20 hours a week at my office specifically for massage. I schedule all my sessions with half an hour between each one to give time for clients to get undressed/dressed, visit the bathroom, check-out, reschedule and even visit a little bit so they don't feel rushed. This also allows me to keep updated with my charts in the moment instead of playing catch-up at the end of the day. I find that 4 clients at an hour massage a person in a day is plenty for me, but I have done as many as 6 - just not on a regular basis and usually it's because some one really needs in and I already know the next day is an easy one or I'm off.
I figure with the amount of hours I spend charting, filing, doing finances, keeping up with newsletters/eNewsletters, emails, website, blogging, and even reading to keep me informed, bumps my hours to over 35 or more a week that I dedicate to my business, making it a full time job.
As for money, sure, I could take on more clients if I wanted to, but I rather like the idea of doing this for a really long time so I figure selling products that go along with my business and raising my prices every so many years (just a little, just like anybody else who gets a raise where they work) will help.
As for care: I get adjusted once or twice a month, massage every other week, exercise almost daily, and stretch. I'm a firm believer that the regular massages and adjustments (for my shoulders, elbows and wrists as well as back) is what truly keeps my body enduring the hours of massage followed by computer time I spend doing each week.
I wish I could say that I worked hard. I work at Super S Foods in Junction, Tx Monday and Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday I drive 63 miles one way to Fredericksburg,Tx to sit from 9-5 waiting and hoping to have a client in a busy salon/day spa I am the only massage therapist there and have had about 15 total hours in three or four months. I've tried talking to people and handing out flyers with speacial offers and nothing is bringing in the clients. I trade off with the salon workers: cuts, color, waxing and they get a massage and then tell their clients when they think about it. That seems to work more than flyers.
The number of massages a person can do in a day depends on several factors: Physical conditioning, emotional conditions, amplitude/level/power of massage skills being applied and genetics. A stubby fingered thick boned guy is going to be able to do more massages in a day/week/month than a petite long fingered lady. It realy depends on your bodies joints ability to deal with repetitive stressors. Few therapists actually condition themselves/their bodies properly and prepare themselves physically for the task at hand. :} . I am also an instructor of massage, primarily Lomi Lomi, and the students I see in class are in terrible shape emotionaly and physically.
I have worked on 40 plus clients a week for over 12 years. The only time I ever get hurt is when I try to do something I know I shouldn't be doing. The injuries have always been very minor and I never repeat the same mistake twice. ICE! Each session is booked at 1.5 hours, I have the first client on the table at 7 am and the last starts at 5:30 pm. I work Saturday also. Understand that my kids are all grown so I can work as much or as little as I choose.
The only time I struggled was after a car hit me on my bicycle from the rear doing 50+mph. Broken neck, head injury, crushed ribs, sternum and shoulder blade forced me to slow down for about 1 year. After 3 months I began to use the act of doing massage as part of my rehabilitation process for the nerve damage/pain in my arms and hands... "The body is amazing!.
Thanks everyone. I guess why I am asking is that I am gearing up my practice to do more massages. I have only been doing about 8-10 a week and already have 14 scheduled for next week -mostly all cash client which I have been working to build up but I haven't been working out due to a knee injury.

I also was thinking that we might be using the fact that massage is hard on your body (It may or may not be really. I feel worse after 4 hours on the computer than a day at the office!) to limit our success. Who ever started this thing not to do many massages? Is it all part of the mentality to keep people from being successful? Yes I know the more you do the more self care is involved- more massage sessions and more trips to the spa for me.

I was just thinking about all of my clients who work 40 hours at a desk. I know I became a massage therapist to get out of the rat race type of job but by doing only 15-20 massages a week makes massage a part time career and also makes it harder to make a really great living.

Just thinking out loud here sort of...

Julie
I'm not sure who started puushing the concept that many massages are hard on the body, but I do agree; however, so are many other jobs/careers out there. My husband is a road worker which includes shoveling for long hours - he doesn't just 'not' shovel after a few hours and figure on getting back to it after the body has rested, he finishes the job or atleast the eight hour shift. He maintains his body the same way as I do mine: massage, chiro care, good nights' rest, and having a hobby to balance out the bad stress with some personal time.

I personally choose to do as little as I do mostly because I'm a young mom - as in my kids are not even in school yet. That being said, I've already, on numerous occasions, discussed with my husband my plans for a little expansion once they are in school and my mornings are free for focusing on massages.

Of course, I also like the idea of working less and enjoying life more, so I'm not sure if I'd ever take on a 40 work week anyhow - Nobody says on their deathbed: I wish I would have worked more.

Julie Onofrio said:
Thanks everyone. I guess why I am asking is that I am gearing up my practice to do more massages. I have only been doing about 8-10 a week and already have 14 scheduled for next week -mostly all cash client which I have been working to build up but I haven't been working out due to a knee injury.

I also was thinking that we might be using the fact that massage is hard on your body (It may or may not be really. I feel worse after 4 hours on the computer than a day at the office!) to limit our success. Who ever started this thing not to do many massages? Is it all part of the mentality to keep people from being successful? Yes I know the more you do the more self care is involved- more massage sessions and more trips to the spa for me.

I was just thinking about all of my clients who work 40 hours at a desk. I know I became a massage therapist to get out of the rat race type of job but by doing only 15-20 massages a week makes massage a part time career and also makes it harder to make a really great living.

Just thinking out loud here sort of...

Julie
Thanks for everyones replies - this gets more interesting as it goes. While I do understand that taking care of our self physically is important - image if people working 40 hour work weeks at jobs just started saying - I don't want to sit here anymore or if the road worker just said I have to limit my shoveling to 5 hours a day because of the physical demands.

I think I have a new theory that the idea that only working 25 hours a week doing massage keeps massage therapists from making a lot of money and from having to do the marketing they need to do to get that many clients and more!

Now I am not saying people are wrong or bad for only doing like 10-15 a week - heck I have 15 this week for the first time in over 10 years really but I also have other income streams. I usually only see 8-12 a week and I do go to the spa or get massage regularly.

Julie
Hi Julie ,
I average 20-30 hrs a week on top of work 3x 12 hr night shifts as a nurse .
because I have my own business with the massage I vary the types of massage so I do not do e.g. 3 deep tissue in a row .
I love massage so much it isnt a job doing it , so I don't have any ill effects from it right now . Not to say I won't in the future .
Julie wrote:

"I also was thinking that we might be using the fact that massage is hard on your body (It may or may not be really. I feel worse after 4 hours on the computer than a day at the office!) to limit our success. Who ever started this thing not to do many massages? Is it all part of the mentality to keep people from being successful? Yes I know the more you do the more self care is involved- more massage sessions and more trips to the spa for me. I was just thinking about all of my clients who work 40 hours at a desk."

Julie, everyone is different, physically and emotionally, and what's the "right" number of hours for one person isn't for another. The AMTA publishes statistics every year on massage as a career, and the average number of hours people work per week is 20. That's probably for many reasons, not all of them physical (difficulty attracting clients, building a business, etc.). As one person said, there are a number of hours that must be spent every day doing administrative duties, charting, cleaning the room/table, etc. If you're doing 40 hours a week of massage, then you have to add those administrative hours on top of that. So there are lots of reasons the average is 20 hours/wk.

I don't think anyone really advocates that therapists shouldn't do more than a certain number of massage per week - I know I have never made that kind of assertion. Depending on the type of work you do and all the other factors of your work environment, physical characteristics, etc., you need to find the number of massages that feels right for you, and that you can do without having symptoms that could lead to injury. Some people can get injured doing very few massages a week, so you always need to have good self-care habits and be in the best possible shape. On the other hand, if you really want to work 30 or more hours per week, yes, you do need to be extra vigilant about how you work and the kind of shape you're in. Massage work in the classic sense (Swedish-type) is indeed physically demanding. If you played tennis casually, a few times a week, and then you decide to become a professional, play 6 hours a day,every day and play competitively, you would need to increase your training and endurance to accommodate the additional hours and the additional stress of competition, which would increase your risk of injury.

Certainly, massage therapists have a right to make as much money and be as successful as anyone else. It may be that the image we have of a successful massage therapist is one who does 40 massages a week and makes great money, and the reality is that the average salary for a massage therapist is, I believe, around $30K doing 20 hours a week. There are certainly people who can do 40 massage a week, but you do have to be in great shape to keep that up, or do a style of massage that's less physically demanding (perhaps combined with other modalities). I think that the key to being successful, in most professions, is learning to work smart rather than working hard. So that means filling your 1 1/2 hours of massage with a variety of modalities, most of which aren't physically intensive, or finding other ways to bring in money (doing spa treatments, selling products, etc.). You know, in many places in Europe, MTs don't work in as intensive a way as American MTs do - they don't do much deep tissue or pressure-intensive massage at all, they really concentrate on relaxation. So there are ways to make the work less intense, which could make it possible to do more massage per week without a big increase in injury risk. All PT's I've ever spoken to say they could never do an hour or more of purely manual techniques full-time and not get hurt (PTs do 15-20 minutes of manual therapy, if they even do manual therapy, and then do other modalities). So the work really is hard the way most American MTs do it. So is shoveling, by the way, and people who do other physically demanding jobs like that DO have high injury rates. It's not just MTs. :-)
Rosemary Chunco said:
It is possible to make a lot more than the average income even with just 20 by having good marketing strategies and keeping your costs low while at the same time prolonging the career life expectancy (from what I hear its 5 years) by not "overdoing it".

Rosemary, I think you make some good points. By the way, the most recent stats I've seen indicate 7-8 years as the average career length for an MT. But my feeling is that this average career length would be longer if more therapists had good injury prevention and self-care practices (and if these practices and principles were taught more widely and extensively in school). I think it's definitely possible to have a life-long career as an MT, if you really take care of yourself, and treat any symptoms early and effectively so they don't lead to injury.
Wow, career expectancy of 7-8 years seems incredibly short! I've been out of school for over seven and have been relying massage as my source of income for over 5 years and hope (plan) to continue doing this for at least 20. I've given thought as to where I need to be as a business in the future if I want to make it part of my retirement plan.

Once again, the value of self care seems so pertinent.

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