8 Medical Experts Who Specialize in Massage Therapy Research

Research has shown, and continues to support, the benefits of massage therapy. These eight researchers have made significant headway in the field of massage.

Physicians across the globe increasingly recommend massage therapy to their patients. In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service covers 80-100% of massage therapy costs for patients with certain conditions. Here in the United States, over 65% of doctors refer patients who seek information about massage recommend this complementary treatment and refer them to massage therapists.

Medical researchers at top schools nationwide have gathered a growing body of evidence that massage therapy benefits patients with a wide range of symptoms and conditions. People increasingly turn to massage therapy, one of the top 5 complementary therapies in the United States, and about 18 million patients in the United States report using massage therapy.

Many college and university medical schools today support professors and faculty researchers who study the mechanisms and effects of massage therapy. Among them are the following individuals:

  1. Tiffany Field, PhD

For over 30 years, the University of Miami has set the standard for U.S. massage therapy research. In 1992, Dr. Field founded the Touch Research Institute, which employs researchers from top universities like Harvard, Maryland, and Yale. The first of its kind in the world, this organization studies massage therapy’s many applications in science and medicine, as well as its profound health and wellness benefits.

In 2016, Dr. Field (along with colleagues from the Touch Research Institute and the Children’s’ Hospital of Philadelphia) researched the effect of mother to infant massage on sleep quality for both babies and mothers. These experts discovered that a simple 15-minute oil massage before bed led to better sleep for mothers and babies (compared to no-oil massages and a control group that didn’t engage in massage therapy). In a similar 2010 study, Dr. Field and her colleagues discovered preterm babies gained weight faster and increased their bone density when their mothers massaged them with oil.

  1. Maria Hernandez-Reif, PhD

A faculty member at the University of Alabama, Dr. Hernandez-Reif frequently shares her expertise in developmental, cognitive, and behavioral psychology with the Touch Research Institute. An expert in the psychology of infant diet and digestion, she has contributed to many studies involving massage therapy and pediatric care (and over 160 publications, in total).

Dr. Hernandez-Reif has helped the Touch Research Institute identify and optimize specific massage therapy techniques to promote infant health, such as oil massage and moderate (vs. light) pressure.

  1. Miguel Diego, PhD

A pediatric specialist at the University of Miami, Dr. Diego has worked on over 125 research projects. In addition to studying the effects of massage therapy on infants, he has studied the use of massage therapy to treat arthritis pain in the hands, neck, and knees. Dr. Diego studies the psychological effects of complementary therapies like massage therapy, yoga, and tai chi on mothers with postpartum depression and their infants. He has collaborated with Dr. Field on many Touch Research Institute studies.

  1. Marlaine Smith, PhD

Dr. Smith serves as the Dean of the Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing. As a registered nurse and a professor, she has worked to expand the theory of nursing and increase the body of knowledge about massage therapy in nursing environments. She studies many holistic healing methods, such as touch therapy, reiki, and jin shin, among others.

At the University of Colorado School of Nursing, Dr. Smith leads research teams in foundational studies of massage therapies in hospital settings. She discovered that massage therapy facilitated patients’ recovery times, mobility, and energy. When working with cancer patients, Dr. Smith and her colleagues learned massage therapy reduces pain, increases sleep quality, soothes anxiety, and improves distressing symptoms.

  1. Justin Crane, PhD

As a doctoral researcher at Canada’s McMaster University Department of Kinesiology, Dr. Crane led a study (arranged by Dr. Melov) into the biochemical mechanisms of massage. With his colleagues, he showed that massage therapy reduced inflammation in young men with muscle damage caused by exercise.

More importantly, Dr. Crane’s team discovered why muscle injury patients benefitted from massage treatments on a cellular level. They found that massage therapy helps people with skeletal muscle injuries by:

  • Triggering mitochondrial biogenesis (cellular repair and growth)
  • Reducing inflammatory cytokines in muscle cells
  • Decreasing heat shock protein phosphorylation
  • Mitigating cellular stress from myofiber injuries

Dr. Crane currently studies the cellular biochemistry of aging at Boston’s Northeastern University. He focuses on the skin, muscle, and connective tissues targeted for healing by massage therapists.

  1. Simon Melov, PhD

Dr. Melov earned his doctoral degree in biochemistry from the University of London. Before he and his colleagues founded the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in 1999, he worked at Emory University and the University of Colorado.

In collaboration with Dr. Crane’s McMaster research team, Dr. Melov and his colleague Alan Hubbard studied the cellular and biochemical foundations of massage for skeletal muscle patients. He highlighted massage therapy’s potential to reduce inflammation and promote healing as well as the possibility it could target the same cellular mechanisms as prescription painkillers.

  1. Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, PhD

Dr. Tarnopolsky serves as the Director of McMaster University’s Neuromuscular and Neurometabolic Clinic and the CEO of the Exerkine corporation. He has published over 390 scholarly articles in his quest to heal people with symptoms of neuromuscular ailments and aging.

As a professor at McMaster University’s Department of Pediatrics and Medicine, Dr. Tarnopolsky oversaw Dr. Crane’s study. He stated that massage therapy can benefit patients dealing with the effects of aging, musculoskeletal injuries, and inflammatory diseases.

  1. Adam Perlman, MD, MPH

Dr. Perlman, the Executive Director of Duke Integrative Medicine, works with students as an Associate Professor of Medicine. In addition to performing many leadership roles in the complementary therapy academic community, he continues to research the efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) treatments.

Recently, Dr. Perlman received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the use of massage therapy for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Not only did his research team find that massage therapy decreased pain and increased range of motion, they also optimized the treatment protocol for this disease. They determined an hour of massage therapy each week was the best application of massage therapy treatments for OA patients.

A Wealth of Scientific Knowledge

Though countries like Russia have a long history of medical research into massage therapy, U.S. scientists have begun to close the gap. In recent decades, experts at many universities across the nation have dedicated their careers to proving the efficacy and multiple benefits of massage therapy.

Ask your physician how you can use massage therapy as part of your treatment plan. This popular complementary therapy offers pain relief, healing, and many other benefits, and it may ultimately reduce your need for prescription drugs.

References:

  1. American Massage Therapy Association. (2016). Industry fact sheet. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/economic_industry-fact-sheet.html
  2. Coleman, N. (n.d.). Why you could get alternative treatment on the NHS. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-55405/Why-alternative-treatment-NHS.html#top
  3. Duke Integrative Medicine. (n.d.). Adam Perlman, MD, MPH. Retrieved from https://www.dukeintegrativemedicine.org/about/meet-the-team/adam-perlman-md-mph-facp-2/
  4. Field, T., Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2010). Preterm infant massage therapy research: a review. Infant behavior and development, 2010, 33(2), 115–124. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2009.12.004
  5. Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Deeds, O., & Figuereido, B. (2006). Moderate versus light pressure massage therapy leads to greater weight gain in preterm infants. Infant behavior and development, 29(4), 574–578. doi:  10.1016/j.infbeh.2006.07.011
  6. Field, T., Gonzalez, G., Diego, M., & Mindell, J. (2016). Mothers massaging their newborns with lotion versus no lotion enhances mothers’ and newborns’ sleep. Infant behavior and development, 45a, 31-37.
  7. Florida Atlantic University. (n.d.). Biography: Marlaine Smith. Retrieved from http://nursing.fau.edu/directory/smith/index.php
  8. McMaster University. (2012). Massage is promising for muscle recovery: McMaster researchers find 10 minutes reduces inflammation. Retrieved from https://fhs.mcmaster.ca/main/news/news_2012/massage_therapy_study.html
  9. Melov, S. (2013). Identifying molecular hallmarks of aging to guide the development of anti-aging therapies. Retrieved from http://www.buckinstitute.org/melovLab
  10. Crane, J., Ogborn, D., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J., &
  11. Tarnopolsky, M. (2012). Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage. Science translational medicine, 4(119).
  12. ResearchGate. (2015). Profile: Maria Hernandez-Reif. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Maria_Hernandez-Reif
  13. Perlman, A., Ali A, Njike, V., Hom, D., Davidi, A., Gould-Fogerite, S., … Katz, D. (2012) Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS one, 7(2). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030248
  14. Science Daily. (2012). Massage reduces inflammation and promotes growth of new mitochondria following strenuous exercise, study finds. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120201141710.htm
  15. Smith, M., Stallings, M., Mariner, S., & Burrall, M. (1999). Benefits of massage therapy for hospitalized patients: a descriptive and qualitative evaluation. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 5(4), 64-71.
  16. Smith, M., Kemp, J., Hemphill, L., & Vojir, C. (2002). Outcomes of therapeutic massage for hospitalized cancer patients. Journal of nursing scholarship, 34(3), 257-62.
  17. Touch Research Institute. (n.d.). History of the touch research institute. Retrieved from https://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/About.html
  18. University of Miami. (2016). Research Profiles: Miguel A. Diego. Retrieved from https://miami.pure.elsevier.com/en/persons/miguel-a-diego/publications
  19. University of Miami Health System. (2017). Profile – Tiffany M. Field. Retrieved from http://uhealthsystem.com/researchers/profile/2581

Why You Should List Your Massage Practice in an Online Directory

Listing your practice in an online directory like Massagetique can benefit you in many ways. It’s also likely to be simpler than developing your own website.

Like it or loathe it, the internet has brought communities closer together, made organizations far and wide more accessible, and brought information-sharing abilities to a new level. All of these can mean positive growth for your business, if you know how to use your online presence to your advantage. New to the world of online marketing altogether? Check out Massagetique’s free marketing guide for massage therapists to get started.

Part of your online marketing presence will probably be a website, another a Facebook page, another perhaps a listing with a generic directory such as Yellow Pages. In addition to your personal website and social media presence, it is in your best interests to strongly consider joining an online directory that specifically lists massage therapists and bodywork professionals. Directories like Massagetique can help you reach more people and grow your clientele, but they also provide vital business support in ways that aid all aspects of your practice.

More Visibility

Google processes billions of internet searches per day. In fact, approximately 40,000 searches are done every second. Furthermore, over a third of people look for businesses and retailers online. With so many people looking for information constantly and so much competition for ranking search results, how can you ensure your practice is found?

Online directories are a way of boosting your chances of being seen online. Search engines like Google prioritize sites with reliable content, high visitor counts, and a more established web presence. Directories, which tend to publish articles regularly and may be run by companies with the ability to invest in farther-reaching advertising efforts, have a distinct advantage in search engine ranking systems.

This means someone searching for “massage in Los Angeles, CA” is more likely to see a link to a directory than a link to your personal website. Plus, a ZIP code search through a directory like Massagetique will better direct potential clients to you if your office is located in a suburb or outside city limits.

Less Maintenance Than a Personal Website

Chances are, you probably don’t have an academic or professional background in web development or design. Though most websites make it easy for even those with no background in website management to set up and maintain a personal business site, it can still be tricky (and time-consuming) to establish an online presence with your own website. Marketing experts advise updating your site’s content often, engaging with visitors in a timely manner, and handling anything that goes technically awry. Even if you had the know-how to accomplish all these things on a regular basis, finding the time is another matter.

Listing in an online directory means being able to set up an inviting profile and leave it untouched for months and still see positive results. As you manage the day-to-day tasks associated with running your own business, a directory continues to improve its standing in search results, grow a social media presence, and help drive potential clients to your profile.

Cost-Effective Business Growth

Return on investment (ROI) is an understandable priority for business owners. You want to know the time and money you’re putting into a marketing strategy will yield the results you want in terms of client growth and retention. When it comes to finances, there is almost no reason not to list with a directory. Basic membership with Massagetique, for example, is free, so your only investment is the minimal amount of time it will take you to create a thoughtful, inviting profile.

In weighing directory options that cost money, consider how much you will make back if even one person begins to see you once a month for bodywork. A $30 per month membership fee, then, is worth it if one paying client pays twice that for a monthly massage session. And because word-of-mouth marketing is so effective for business owners, one paying client can easily lead to more.

One-Stop Resource for Your Clients

Many directories, including Massagetique, are constantly publishing news, information, and timeless resources that help people who are new to bodywork learn about different modalities and feel comfortable about the experience of receiving massage treatments. The more extensive these resources, the better chance potential clients will stumble across the content featured through a directory’s website and be moved to seek massage for themselves.

Articles highlighting the importance of massage for elders, for example, or detailing the benefits of bodywork for those with Alzheimer’s or depression, are all helping reach specific audiences that may not have considered massage therapy before. These resources are also an excellent way for you to connect with current clients by recommending reading and materials for self-care at home.

Even apart from the technical support, marketing wisdom, and visibility a directory offers, it’s worth trying a membership on a directory simply for the peace of mind that comes with knowing the bulk of your business marketing efforts are being handled. Learn how you can set up your listing today to start reaching more potential clients than ever.

References:

  1. Burgan, B. (n.d.). How much does massage therapy cost? University of Minnesota. Retrieved from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/massage-therapy/how-much-does-massage-theraphy-cost
  2. Crawling and indexing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/crawling-indexing.html
  3. Google search statistics. (n.d.). Internet Live Stats. Retrieved from http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics
  4. Matista, S. (2016). How do customers find small businesses? Survey says…. Vistaprint. Retrieved from http://www.vistaprint.com/hub/digital/customers-find-small-businesses-survey-says-infographic/?GP=08%2f22%2f2017+15%3a12%3a42&GPS=4490686640&GNF=1

Massage Therapy and Your Recovery Treatment Plan

The physical healing applications of massage and bodywork are well known. Less known are the ways in which massage therapy can facilitate emotional healing.

Mental health treatment and healing take time, and often the process incorporates many modalities, not all of which are directly in the field of psychotherapy. During National Recovery Month, recognized in September, we take the opportunity to shine a light on less mainstream treatment options for recovery from trauma, addiction, and other mental health issues.

Massage therapy and other forms of bodywork are becoming more widely known for their ability to address concerns like anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia. But their use related to conditions that might call for extended treatment or rehabilitation has not been widely publicized. Further research supports incorporating bodywork into a mental health healing plan with a comprehensive psychotherapy program.

Before beginning any type of bodywork to address psychological concerns, it is best to meet with a mental health professional who will be overseeing the recovery process. Depending on the issue and the person’s history, bodywork may not be the most appropriate complementary therapy, or it may be advisable to wait until the individual is further into the recovery process to explore massage.

Massage Therapy and Addiction Recovery

Research shows bodywork helps reduce physical and emotional discomfort during the addiction recovery process in many ways. Some rehabilitation facilities and residential treatment centers employ massage therapists to aid clients on-site. Further, people who are trying to quit smoking can use self-massage to help reduce nicotine cravings. Co-occurring issues in the smoking cessation process, especially anxiety and mood issues, are also eased by touch therapy and massage.

Withdrawal can be an extremely painful experience, especially for people who have developed an opioid addiction after being prescribed the drugs for physical injury or pain. Massage can speed the detoxification process, lessen the risk of secondary health problems, and reduce the need for tranquilizers or other drugs to calm a client.

Bodywork also reduces the likelihood of relapse. The Mayo Clinic offers a program for pain management and reduction which takes a “biopsychosocial” approach to weaning opioid users off the medication and replacing it with holistic therapy options, including massage. The results have been very positive, significantly lessening clients’ needs for pain medication afterward.

Individuals currently using alcohol or other drugs, and those whose systems still contain them, are not advised to receive massage. In such instances it is likely the liver is already processing the substances and can become overwhelmed by toxins as bodywork begins to take effect.

Using Bodywork After Abuse or Trauma

A common effect of experiencing any type of physical trauma, including childhood abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault, among others, is an aversion to touch. Studies support the use of many different types of bodywork and holistic treatments for people who are comfortable or can work up to it. Even no-contact modalities like reiki, aromatherapy, and some types of hydrotherapy can be beneficial additions to a comprehensive mental health healing plan after abuse or trauma.

Though bodywork does have a direct positive correlation with improved mood and emotional stability, researchers say the more immediate effect of massage is a deeper connection with the self. After trauma, someone might begin dissociating or develop thought patterns of self-loathing and rejection of the self. Massage and bodywork can help bring awareness back to the body and one’s connection with it in constructive, nonjudgmental ways.

By addressing the physiological impacts after trauma, professional bodywork can help remove some of the emotional barriers to healing, such as pain and discomfort related to touch or another person’s proximity. In this way the therapy makes it possible for more psychological and emotional healing to take place and for clients to restore self-acceptance.

Eating Disorder Recovery and Massage

Common eating issues like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating can pose a number of health risks and may even be life-threatening. Treatment facilities and programs focus on helping someone ease back into a lifestyle that supports a healthy relationship between food and one’s body.

These changes may be minor at first but can still be extremely taxing on people whose systems are adjusting to eating in a different way. In some cases, eating issues lead to cardiovascular weakness or circulatory problems, and bodywork is not advisable if either condition is present. However, for anyone not experiencing these serious side effects, massage can be helpful in the early stages of recovery by improving digestion while the body heals.

A key part of moving past bulimia, bingeing, or anorexia is developing more positive body image and self-regard. Though much of this work is psychological, bodywork can be one factor that helps encourage better self-esteem. Studies show people are more able to accept themselves after receiving massage and experiencing the positive effects of increased serotonin and dopamine. In other words, when the body feels good, it’s easier to feel good about the body. With effective psychotherapy, bodywork can provide unexpected relief during the recovery process and offer hope for people in recovery and their families.

References:

  1. Allison, N. (1999). The illustrated encyclopedia of body-mind disciplines, 163-165. New York City, NY: Rosen Publishing Group.
  2. Andrews, M. (2017). Holistic therapy programs may help pain sufferers ditch opioids. National Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/08/29/546145817/holistic-therapy-programs-may-help-pain-sufferers-ditch-opioids
  3. Beck, M. F. (2011). Theory & practice of therapeutic massage (5th ed.), 277. Clifton Park, NY: Milady.
  4. Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (2005). Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115(10), 1397-1413. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207450590956459
  5. Hart, S., Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Nearing, G., Shaw, S., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (2001). Anorexia nervosa symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. Eating Disorders, 9(4), 289-299. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/106402601753454868
  6. Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., & Hart, S. (1999). Smoking cravings are reduced by self-massage. Preventive Medicine, 28(1), 28-32. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743598903723
  7. Meeks, J. A. and Byrami, S. (2016). A systematic review of complimentary therapies to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress: Disorder in the aftermath of domestic abuse. Senior Honors Projects. 243. Retrieved from http://commons.lib.jmu.edu/honors201019/243
  8. Price, C. (2005). Body-oriented therapy in recovery from child sexual abuse: An efficacy study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 11(5), 46. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1933482
  9. Reader, M., Young, R., & Connor, J. P. (2005). Massage therapy improves the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 11(2), 311-313. Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/acm.2005.11.311
  10. Werner, R. (2009). A massage therapist’s guide to pathology (4th ed.), 269-270. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  11. Ziegler, P. P. (2005). Addiction and the treatment of pain. Substance Use & Misuse, 40(13-14), 1945-1954. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10826080500294841

Post-Massage Stretching Techniques To Enhance Your Treatment

Just as with physical activity, stretching is often recommended after massage. Learn how taking time to stretch can help preserve the effects of massage.

If you regularly engage in physical activity or exercise of any duration or intensity, you’ve probably been advised to stretch before and after. Incorporating stretching into a regular warm-up routine prior to exercising helps reduce the risk of tearing, straining, or otherwise injuring muscles and joints. It also helps muscles cool down after physical activity, which can guard against stiffness and soreness later.

Stretching after exercise, in a way, helps preserve the effects of exercise by preventing muscles from seizing up and losing their strength and elasticity. Similarly, stretching helps preserve the effects of massage–including relaxation and flexibility. Though athletes and others who lead highly active lives may stand to benefit most from stretching after bodywork, anyone can enhance the effects of a treatment by stretching. Consult with your massage therapist first to see whether they recommend specific stretches after considering your personal health profile.

Why Stretch after Your Massage?

Deep massage and exercise can affect the muscles in similar ways. Massage increases blood flow and circulation and can create friction in the tissues like vigorous movement does. During massage tissues and muscles are pulled away from one another, which creates the “loose” feeling you might have after a treatment. You might also feel taller, because massage helps counteract the daily compression and gravitational pull we experience.

Stretching after a treatment can keep joints mobile, maintain the looseness in muscles and tissues, and improve flexibility. It will also increase your tolerance for stretching–the more you do any stretch, the easier it becomes over time. Wise massage therapists also stretch before and after giving a massage to optimize body mechanics during the treatment and reduce their own risk of injury, strain, and soreness.

Simple Post-Massage Stretching at Home

Your routine will vary depending on your body’s limitations, your massage therapist’s guidelines, and your own goals. Keep movements slow, maintain a steady breathing pattern, and do not hesitate to modify any stretch for greater comfort. Most stretches are designed to be performed alone, though you can also call upon a friend or partner to assist if you would like help balancing, deepening the stretch, or creating resistance to build strength.

  • Standing arm pull + bend: Stand with good spine alignment (hips over ankles with relaxed knees, tailbone relaxed, shoulders over hips, and ears over shoulders). Stretch your arms overhead and alternate reaching the fingertips of each hand up even higher. Keeping your arms stretched above your head, lean side to side. You should feel the stretch in your ribs and oblique muscles. To deepen this stretch, grasp and pull your right wrist as you bend to the left, and pull on your left arm as you bend to the right.
  • Forward fold: Slowly bend at the waist, keeping your shoulders and arms relaxed. Rather than exerting pressure to touch your toes or the floor, simply let your upper body dangle in place and let gravity work to decompress your spine. You can sway slowly from side to side to help release tension. Your chin should drop to your chest so your neck isn’t working to hold your head. When you return to standing, do so very slowly and keep your knees bent. Lead this movement with your hips, so that your shoulders and head are the last thing to raise and stack on top of your spine.
  • Knee hold: While lying on your back, bring one knee to your chest and hold it in place with clasped hands. Switch knees after 30-60 seconds. This alone is a significant stretch for many people; to deepen it you might press your knee into your palms to create resistance. For other variations, take your knee out to the side, away from your body (hip opener), or cross it over your other leg (twist).
  • Cat – cow: On all fours, make sure your back is parallel to the floor as if you’re forming a table. As you inhale, sink your back toward the floor, stretching your tailbone and forehead up toward the sky. Exhale and curve your spine, folding your nose toward your knees. Keep your palms and knees on the floor the entire time, and repeat using your breath as a guide.

Check out the included YouTube videos for more pointers on stretching. If you would like to continue searching for or creating a different custom stretching routine, focus on low-impact movements that are not limited by clothing, space, or time. Tailor your routine to your needs and preferences, taking into account any recommendations from your massage therapist, current pain or injury you’re experiencing, and where you will be doing your stretching.

Precautions for Stretching Exercises

Never push yourself to a greater level of movement than is comfortable. Your range of motion will increase naturally over time, and you won’t do your body any favors by rushing that process. If something causes pain, it’s best to stop attempting that particular stretch and ask your massage therapist for further pointers.

These stretches are best used with massage therapy. While any stretch is likely to prove beneficial for you in some way, pair these with bodywork treatment to get the best of all worlds and start feeling better all around.

References:

  1. Bandy, W. D., & Irion, J. M. (1994). The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Physical Therapy, 74(9), 845-850. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article-abstract/74/9/845/2729345
  2. Boston, G. (2014). Massage, foam rolling and stretching: A recipe for muscle recovery. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/massage-foam-rolling-and-stretching-a-recipe-for-muscle-recovery/2014/07/15/a0d7519a-0907-11e4-bbf1-cc51275e7f8f_story.html?utm_term=.53136b804b54
  3. Herbert, R. (2012). Health check: do you need to stretch before and after exercise? The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/health-check-do-you-need-to-stretch-before-and-after-exercise-46197
  4. Joke, K., Nelson Arnold, G., Carol, E., & Winchester Jason, B. (2007). Chronic static stretching improves exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39(10), 1825-1831. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Arnold_Nelson/publication/5936445_Chronic_Static_Stretching_Improves_Exercise_Performance/links/0912f50b4b9d12dad4000000.pdf
  5. Magnusson, S. P., Simonsen, E. B., Aagaard, P., Sørensen, H., & Kjaer, M. (1996). A mechanism for altered flexibility in human skeletal muscle. The Journal of Physiology, 497(1), 291-298. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8951730
  6. Weerapong, P., Hume, P. A., & Kolt, G. S. (2005). The mechanisms of massage and effects on performance, muscle recovery and injury prevention. Sports medicine, 35(3), 235-256. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200535030-00004
  7. Why stretch after massage. (2015). A Healing Touch Massage and Reiki. Retrieved from https://icmassage.net/why-stretch-after-massage

5 Tips for Reducing Burnout in Massage Therapy

Caregiver burnout can result from job stress and can impact both physical and mental health and potentially your massage practice. These tips can help!

Burnout, an issue generally stemming from job-related stress, especially affects massage therapists and people in other health care professions. It is not something to ignore or let pass, as it can be accompanied by serious mental health issues like depression, isolation, and trauma. There’s no need to make drastic changes, but by shifting your focus at times and listening to your emotional and mental state, you can achieve more life balance and reduce the daily burnout you feel.

Aim for More Balance

Work-life balance means different things to different people–some might balance out their business by spending more time with a partner and children, while others might introduce a new hobby or learn a new skill to feel more balanced. One 2003 study, for example, demonstrated positive improvement in caregivers who began making music recreationally.

If you’ve been working nonstop, even a short vacation could create more harmony between your career and your personal life. When a vacation simply isn’t feasible, reconsider the hours you’re putting in at work. Evaluate whether they’re serving you well as a practitioner but also as a human who needs time to rest and recharge. If more and more evenings or weekends have become occupied with work, it might be time to reprioritize.

Boost Your Self-Care

Studies show health care workers are notorious for neglecting self-care. If your practice feels particularly rushed or hectic, you might benefit from allocating more time for your own care and well-being. Treating yourself to a spa day might not always be realistic, but simple activities like staying hydrated, stretching, taking short walks, or journaling, however briefly, can effectively help ease burnout.

Mindfulness activities have particularly positive effects on burnout and are a sustainable way of preventing burnout and incorporating a self-care routine. Meditation, mindful movement, and walking meditation do not require any props or extra preparation. What’s more, they can be done anywhere. If you’re new to meditation, try downloading a free app to facilitate the process.

Try New Things

An immense field, bodywork offers numerous professional opportunities that only require a few continuing education hours or workshops. If your practice starts to feel less fulfilling, consider looking into an adjunct endeavor.

After years of practicing Swedish massage, for example, you might be interested in incorporating a therapeutic rock treatment. Or perhaps circumstances in your personal life are drawing you toward mindfulness-based approaches or energy work, such as Jin Shin Do and reiki. If your office setting allows for it, you might consider purchasing a spa tub and offering some types of hydrotherapy.

Acquiring new skills can breathe new life into your massage therapy practice, attract and help you retain clients, and introduce you to different bodywork modalities. Your new approach might allow you to be more creative and attentive to your own needs, and you can feel good about having taken the time for discovery and self-improvement.

Switch Up Your Marketing Strategy

By marketing differently you can reach new audiences, learn new skills, and boost your practice in a way that fits you better. Advertise your services in a local gym, for instance, and brush up on what you know about sports massage to attract a new type of clientele. Alternatively, connect with your local hospice organization to offer your services. Even if your involvement is strictly voluntary, you might make connections that result in more clients.

You might also consider branching out in marketing through new types of social media. While unlikely to become your go-to strategy, image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest create a unique branding opportunity. Invest a bit of time into researching these avenues, following bodywork and health accounts, and posting some images of your office space, for starters.

Seek Your Own Therapy

Massage therapists are always advised to receive massage regularly, both to experience others’ techniques and for the same benefits their clients receive: lowered stress and anxiety, reduced muscle tension and fatigue, and increased serotonin and dopamine levels (to help counteract depression). Of all people, massage therapists know the many ways bodywork can improve multiple aspects of life, and they are uniquely positioned to receive various types of bodywork because of professional connections.

If you’re experiencing burnout in your business, emotional state, physical well-being, or mental health, you can begin addressing these areas by receiving massage treatment. In many cases, caregiver burnout or compassion fatigue should also be regarded as a serious issue worth addressing with a mental health professional.

Avoid the temptation to immediately dismiss burnout as a phase you will naturally work through. Though this may be the case, feelings associated with burnout may also be deeply seated in grief, trauma, or depression. Either way, consulting with a psychotherapist can help you identify the roots of those emotions and a path for moving forward.

Health care providers are particularly susceptible to caregiver burnout because of the extraordinary amount of time and attention they put into meeting others’ needs and a tendency to neglect their own. But burnout is not a death sentence for your career or livelihood. Once you pay attention to the exhaustion you are feeling, you can address it and begin moving past it.