Massage therapy is a physically demanding job, especially on our hands and wrists. According to an article published in Arthritis Care & Research, exercise can protect against carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries (RSIs).2 The article discusses a study in which participants who engaged in moderate exercise (such as half-hour walks) three or four times a week showed a 16 percent reduction in risk of developing an RSI. The study demonstrates that regular exercise helps restore overall stability to the musculoskeletal system. As practitioners in a field where carpal tunnel and RSIs are a real possibility, it is encouraging to hear that exercising regularly can help prevent these conditions.
We also spend a lot of our time in forward flexion while pushing and pulling body parts. Strengthening the core muscles (abdominals, back, and glutes) is important to help us maintain proper positioning while working on clients. Strength training, Yoga and Pilates are excellent options for keeping our core muscles strong. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA) both recommend strength training twice per week. In addition, a stretching routine or tai chi are nice compliments to a core body workout and will help release some of the stress and tension that can build up in our backs and hamstrings from bending over massage tables. While all of the exercises mentioned here can be done at a fitness center, they also can be done at home or in a hotel with the help of a book, DVD, or a smart phone app.
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