Taking care of yourself should be your top priority as a massage therapist. Our work is rewarding but demanding, so implementing a solid self-care routine is a must.

Most of us are managing a career with a list of regular clients, and some of us have the added stress of running a business or a school, but all of that mental stress is coupled with the strenuous physical effort of our jobs.

Placing priority on self-care can help maintain your physical health, reduce stress, and even make you more profitable. Read on to discover the top self-care tips we love sharing with our students and our colleagues.

What is self-care for massage therapists?

Self-care for a massage therapist is the act of taking care of yourself. The purpose of self-care is to physically and mentally protect yourself to ensure you’re able to continue practicing massage therapy.

Why is self-care important for massage therapists?

Massage therapy is a physically and emotionally demanding job. Incorporating daily self-care will protect from injury and avoid burnout. Massage therapists have a high burnout rate due to a lack of consistent self-care. And that doesn’t need to be the case.

Because we work in the health and wellness industry, we need to be following the tips we give to our clients. It’s important to set an example and be a role model. And the easiest way to do that is to take care of ourselves.

The Best 9 Self-Care Tips for Massage Therapists

1. Schedule regular massages

The best way to keep your body ready for massage others is to get a massage yourself. Many of your colleagues would gladly trade services—you only have to ask!

Trading massages will help you remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a massage and experience different techniques.

Try to schedule a massage weekly or biweekly. However, if you cannot get a massage weekly, self-massage can fill in the gaps. This can include stretching or using therapy tools like a massage gun, foam roller, or massage ball.

2. Take care of your hands

Our hands are our most important, fundamental tool, and massage puts a high demand on them. Use your forearm, elbow, or even therapeutic tools to apply treatments whenever possible.

Here are some remedies for sore hands:

  • Soak hands and forearms in cold water. This will reduce inflammation and fatigue.
  • Soak hands in a warm Epsom salt bath. This will help combat any pain.
  • Mainly focus on your hands and wrists. Check out this video for a guided hand and wrist stretch.
  • Wearing a wrist brace. A brace will keep your wrist in a good anatomical position, reducing pain and inflammation.
  • CBD creams. CBD creams (and TCH creams if your state allows them) will relieve muscle and joint pain.

3. Exercise regularly

An exercise regimen will help keep your body strong and your mind clear. Exercise will also develop your endurance and improve your energy levels, making a full day of massage less exhausting.

A basic workout routine should include some sort of enjoyable cardio and strength training 3-4 days a week. On your off days, incorporate some basic stretching – YouTube is flooded with guided exercise videos.

One thing to take away from this is to choose an exercise modality that you enjoy. This will enable you to keep up the habit of exercising regularly.

4. Eat healthy and stay hydrated

We’re not going to prescribe any diet here, but there are a few essential nutrition tips to ensure you’re nourished and hydrated throughout the day.

  • Eat protein and healthy fats to stay fuller longer.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables.
  • Drink half of your body weight in ounces (If you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll need to drink 75 ounces throughout the day).
  • Add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. Foods like turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic.

5. Use proper body mechanics

Employing proper body mechanics during your massage is one of the most critical components of having a long and healthy career. This career-saving tip will also prevent injury and help us be more effective and efficient.

Here are some helpful tips from the American Massage Therapy Association:

  • Table height. Make sure your table is at the right height for you. Higher tables mean less low-back bending and normal wrist angles. Lower tables will increase the stress on your lower back because you’re bending more. To find the best height for you, start with the table at half your height.
  • Start with your feet, placing them shoulder-width apart. Use your body to stay balanced and keep your body in alignment with the direction you’re massaging.
  • Use an uphill stroke to have the most mechanical advantage and need to push harder to maintain pressure. Keep your hands, fingers, and wrists relaxed as you massage.
  • Use your forearms to generate force and pressure. Avoid using your thumbs and elbows when you need to apply pressure.

6. Listen to your pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong. The sooner you’re aware of the pain and take care of it, the sooner you can take action to correct the issue.

Listening to your body is an essential preventative step. Your clients will understand if you’re honest with them and tell them that you’ve sustained an injury. They want you at your best, and you should, too.

7. Adopt different styles of massage

Because there are so many repetitive movements, massage therapists are at risk for repetitive stress injuries. Once you’ve established a good foundational massage technique, branch out and learn different techniques.

Learning new massage therapy techniques and styles will not only keep you healthy but will also keep you growing professionally.

8. Establish good sleep hygiene

Sleep is one of the most important steps to take for overall health, especially in a physically demanding profession. Sleep repairs the body improves mental and physical performance, and boosts immune function. It also regulates our hormones and emotions.

Here’s how to improve your sleep hygiene and routine:

  • Develop a consistent sleep schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends. This is more about getting you in the habit of conditioning your body to wake up and feel sleepy naturally.
  • Aim for 7-8 hours a night.
  • Lower the temperature in your bedroom. A cooler room means a more restful sleep.
  • Resist using electronics before bed. The light from the screen will keep you up. Instead, opt for a book or guided meditation.

9. Enjoy stress-relieving hobbies

There will be moments when our jobs feel all-consuming. But it’s crucial to incorporate activities throughout the week to relieve stress and to enjoy ourselves.

Here are some of our favorite ways to relieve stress:

  • Meditation
  • Hiking
  • Unplugging from technology for a day
  • Reading
  • Spending time with friends and family

Take care of yourself

You are the most important person in your life. Your physical and mental health needs to be a top priority if you wish to maintain a long-standing, rewarding career.