Massage therapists depend on their hands and wrists for their jobs. But bad posture and repetitive muscle strain can cause trigger points to form in the muscles, creating debilitating pain in those areas and headaches that affect productivity, said Mary Biancalana, president of the National Association of Myofascial Trigger Points Therapists.
Learning the techniques of trigger point therapy may be the key to reducing those headaches, wrist and hand pain in therapists and their clients. Elite’s Trigger Point Class, helps therapists identify and deactivate trigger points in muscles that cause pain in hands and wrists and headaches, the third most significant cause of lost production from disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
While they work, massage therapists often maintain a shoulder-flexed position for long periods that can lead to trigger points in muscles, causing headaches and pain in the hands and wrists, said Biancalana, a licensed massage therapist and nationally board-certified myofascial trigger point therapist who is owner and director of therapy for the Chicago Center for Myofascial Pain Relief.
Therapists also develop headaches from chronically contracting their muscles while tilting their head and neck to focus on their client or schedule appointments on a mobile device.
Here are five tips for preventing such strains, pains and headaches:
- Remain physically fit with a multi-dimensional program that might include yoga, careful free weights, cardiovascular exercise and dynamic balance.
- Maintain excellent nutritional health with adequate water and frequent breaks for small whole food snacks such as a handful of almonds, some fruit, a cheese stick or nitrate-free luncheon meat.
- Between clients, stretch the opposite muscles used during the massage. For example, reach behind your head and tap your opposite ear. Stretch the subscapularis muscle under the scapula or shoulder blade by reaching your hand into your opposite back pocket. Tuck the chin down and retract the neck. Stretch the sub-occipital, trapezius, or sternocleidomastoid to alleviate the muscle trigger points that cause headaches around the head, neck, and face.
- Ensure a neutral sleep posture by keeping arms and shoulders at your waist, not overhead or tucked under a pillow.
- Use an adjustable hydraulic treatment table that allows you to change the height for each client, so you’re not looking down at the same angle. The same goes for scheduling online appointments. Raise the mobile device or computer to the level of your face, so you don’t have perpetual neck reflection.