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I recently graduated from massage school and I just started working in a wellness center last week.  I have gone from doing 3 massages a week in school to doing 3 and 4 a day and am so sore.  Is this a result of bad body mechanics or just from greatly increasing my load?  Obviously if it is due to bad mechanics I want to fix it as quickly as possible.  How do I determine what exactly I am doing wrong?  I am mostly sore in my left glutes and right trap which are areas I generally have trouble with anyway but I am also just sore and achy all over.

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It might be a bit of both, but body mechanics is key. I've seen so many therapist injury themselves. Make sure to stretch after clients (hopefully you have time between clients).  Good tip that works for me, is every time I go to a new body part I reassess my posture to make sure that I am leveraging my body weight appropriately. Good luck.

My guess would be that your body mechanics are slightly off, especially if you're more sore on one side in a certain area than the other side. If you're right-handed, you might be using more strength than you need to when using the right side of your body - don't forget, with the right body mechanics, you can produce lot of pressure without using a lot of your own force. Along the same lines, since it sounds as though you favor your right side, your left side could just be sore from the fact that you're actually using it whereas you may not have been in the past.

 

Also, are you over-exerting yourself during the massages? Are you doing more Deep Tissue than you used to? Are you stretching yourself out before and after each massage? Have YOU been receiving Massages since you left the program? If nothing else, get yourself a TheraCane or Body Back Buddy to use on yourself, and maybe get a Thumbsaver so you don't have to exert so much force during a massage! I hope this helps somewhat...

Hi Kim, your soreness may just be from working out more. Similar to going to a gym for a workout, you get sore and then the more you "work-out" i.e. "massage" you should be less sore. If after several weeks of the same workload you are still sore, then it may be your body mechanics. For that, I recommend taping a video of yourself giving a massage, then you can see exactly what is going on. I wouldn't rely on just how you feel during the session, our minds can play tricks on us and how you think you are performing an action can be very different from how you are actually performing that action.... but a video won't lie!

 

Thank you all so much. A lot of helpful tips. I noticed yesterday that for deep tissue work I bend at the waist for elbow and forearm work which I think is not only bad form but it also keeps me from using my body weight and I start trying to muscle it.  I am hoping that if I pay attention I can change that behavior before it becomes second nature. 
Good catch, Kim! Your post also reminded me that in all the CEU courses I've taken-- the main thing I notice with the other students is how they will not only bend over at the waist, but hunch their backs while working. I've seen it so often and it hurts just to look at that kind of posture.
Along the same lines with what Kim is saying, you could also put a mirror somewhere in the room to check your body mechanics during massage sessions. The room I rent has 3 kind of large mirrors in it, all above the height of the table, so during my massages I'll periodically give myself a "body mechanics check". It's so great - I can really feel it when I'm not standing correctly (and I tire more easily), but sometimes I catch myself with bad posture because of the mirrors!
Everyone has already given you great advice on body mechanics so I'm going to give you another important factor. Your own health and fitness.....I recommend (from personal experience) that you start working out. Doing cardio exercise 2 - 3 times per week and taking a yoga class will help you tons. Take baby steps and build up your stamina slowly so you don't create more soreness in your body. When I go to the gym I will do 20 - 30 minutes on the elliptical and then 20 minutes or so on the treadmill walking. Following that 30 minutes of yoga (or stretching if you aren't familiar with yoga) with deep breathing. Since I have been doing this I can bust out 6 massages with no muscle pain or strain..yes, I'm wiped at the end of the day but not in pain. Once you bring fitness to your world massages are easy breezy. If you are already fit and doing everything I just said then I would say it is 100% body mechanics and the natural evolution of building up your stamina as a massage therapist. Congrats on your new job!!
Another good point is hydration, if you are able to drink a glass of water in between sessions. I've noticed that this helps me a lot with my soreness. Also as a new therapist you might not know too much about energy vampires.. I was sceptical at first but the longer I do massage the more I'm able to notice how clients energy affect me some times I even take on their muscle symptoms be sure to stay grounded and force the energy out instead of absorbing it. If some one had told me that 3 years ago when I graduated school I would have dismissed them for a crazy but trust me when I say protecting your energy is important from the beginning. Hoped this helped.

Hi Kim,  I remember that when I first started too.  It is not one bit surprising that you would be sore going from 3 massages a weekd to 3 or 4 a day.   So yes, it could be a body mechanics issue, but even if you moved perfectly you would probably still be sore.  Giving a massage is a workout so you just added +3 hours a day to your workout routine.   Remember to take care of yourself.  Aside from the hydration which is a great tip, get massages yourself.  Work out was another great tip and when you do think well rounded.  Pay attention to the muscles you use the most when you work and make sure to find balance by strengthening muscles that may not be getting the workout.   That will help your joints stay healthy while you build up strength.  (For example shoulders was a concern for me when I first started, but I added rowing and pull downs to my workout and they recovered quickly.) And, try icing when you are done working, then soaking in an epsom salt bath later when you get a chance to relax and take care of yourself.   Welcome to massage and good luck to you as you build up strength and clientelle.

 

all great suggestions!  as a "newbie" myself I'd also suggest looking at the height of your table.

take care of yourself!

 

much laughter,

 

k

You've got a lot of very good suggestions above.  Along the lines of table height, if you are doing deeper work then a shorter table will be your best friend.  I'm six feet tall and when I was working off of a stationary table I had it at either the lowest or second to lowest setting.  I just adjusted my body to move to the client as I needed to bending at the knees and keeping a straight back.  I often thought of this as doing yoga around the massage table.  

About a year ago I got a used hydraulic table and this has made life much easier.  I'm doing more massages on a regular basis and my body feels much better being able to bring the client to where I need them as the session progresses.  After ten years doing this I try to limit myself to no more than four hours a day.  It stays true for the most part.  

Good luck and congratulations on your new endeavor!  In good health!

Sorry, was on an android tablet, and couldnt correct spelling...Cant spell anyway,,,But. What I ment to say was....   If you cant fix yourself.  How can you expect to fix anyone else that has muscle pain?      You can learn now. You are the sore muscle.....Massage yourself....You will learn more that way then any class or intelectual discussion.     

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