If you are a massage therapist or will soon be embarking upon a career as one, you've chosen an interesting field. There are many "pros" to being a massage therapist, but "cons" and hazards exist as well. It's important to familiarize yourself with them so that you can take steps to prevent coming to harm, and also to decide if pursuing this career is right for you.
Being a massage therapist often means being on your feet all day, leaning over a table. While giving a massage, you are constantly using the muscles in your upper body. At the end of the day, you may develop cramps in your legs or sore feet from standing, a stiff back, and tired arms and wrists. It's important to rest these parts of your body during your off time -- preferably as soon as you get home. Soaking in a warm tub or even getting a massage yourself can help ease the pain.
Massage therapists are around other people all day, from clients to staff members where they work. Since therapists have skin-to-skin contact with their clients, they are at greater risk for infectious diseases, such as colds and flus, than someone who is more isolated. Prevent these diseases by wearing gloves while giving a massage (check if this is allowed where you work) and taking care of yourself. Eat a nutritious diet high in vitamin C, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. You should also wash your hands or use a sanitizing gel between customers.
Although rare, there are legal issues when it comes to massage therapy. Since many clients you encounter may be getting massages for medical reasons (such as chronic back pain), there is the slight possibility of making their injury worse. These clients can then sue you for the damage incurred, as well as pain and suffering compensation. Protect yourself by going over your clients' medical histories with them before beginning the massage. Keep up to date with any changes in their health between appointments, and be aware of how massages can affect their particular condition.
Finally, one hazard that not many people think of when embarking on a career as a massage therapist is an emotional one. Massage can be an intensely emotional, (as well as physical) experience, and it is not unheard of for patients to break down crying when they are touched in an intimate way. Therapists must prepare themselves for this possibility, and know how to respond accordingly.
- "Massage Therapy: Principles and Practice"; Susan G. Salvo; 2007
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