How to take good care of your body when your job isn’t helping
As a massage therapist, my job is helping my clients manage or get rid of their pain. But a lot of my clients ask me about my pain– they want to know if my hands get sore. Of course they do, but sore hands is just the tip of the iceberg! In reality, massage therapists are prone to all sorts of body pain! The main complaint of massage therapists is shoulder and neck tension. Interestingly, this is the same as the general population. We are also prone to low back pain, wrist injuries, thumb injuries and shoulder tendonitis.
When you think about it, practically every job has its perils. Whether you’re at a desk and hunched over a computer, have a job where you’re standing a lot like a cashier or server, a physical job where you’re lifting or a job where you travel a lot and are sitting for hours on end – there’s always some sort of occupational hazards involved. Of course, you need to make sure that you have the best possible ergonomic habits possible and the right equipment. Is your desk and monitor the right height? Can you wear better foot wear if you’re standing a lot on the job? Do you bend your knees when you’re lifting? Can you get up and stretch every so often when you’re on an overseas flight? Are you using the proper techniques to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body?
At the end of the day, you may find that you’re doing everything right, but you’re still feeling pain. This is where proper home care comes into play – what to do to take care of your body when you’re not at work.
Below you will find a sketch of my home care plan. These are my personal strategies for staying out of pain. If your job is becoming a pain, there may be some ideas here you may wish to copy:
- Stretch daily. I stretch from head to toe and I usually time myself. It takes about half an hour to an hour to stretch correctly. Give extra attention to areas where you’re feeling really stiff.
- Epsom salts baths (or regular baths) and hot tubs can make muscles more supple and relieve tension. Don’t pass up a chance for a good soak!
- Find a fun physical activity. Ultimate Frizbee is my game of choice (but tennis, hockey, soccer, swimming etc are all good choices too). It’s fun, social and a great stress reliever and there’s a lot of running around so it’s good exercise. Find something that you find both fun and good exercise at the same time.
- Walk or ride your bike instead of taking transit or driving your car. I try to walk or ride to work or wherever I’m going whenever it’s weather and distance permitting.
- Incorporate pilates or yoga into your exercise regimen for improved flexibility, strength and balance.
- If an activity causes me pain, I try to avoid it. This isn’t always possible but worth considering.
- If you do find yourself in pain – don’t ignore it. In terms of getting care, you can generally consider massage, chiropractic care or physiotherapy (although there are many more than this including acupuncture and osteopathy among others!). Often these professionals can help you with musculoskeletal pain far more than your family doctor can. Find a therapy that works for you and feel free to combine different therapies together for best results.
Good luck with adapting these strategies for your own personal care plan!
Marianne Premuzic, RMT