How To Help 3 Common Types of Injuries Massage Therapists Deal With

by May 27, 2020Injury Prevention, Massage Injuries, Self Care0 comments

I can think of nothing worse than an injury as a massage therapists. Being on the other side of the table can be soething that is hard to comprehend for some. 

If you’ve had an acute injury, pain from overuse or a chronic holding pattern, I hope that this episode is of some value to you, because we will be exploring some ways that help alleviate some of this pain you are experiencing from these 3 types of injuries going forward.

1. Acute Injuries

Acute injuries can happen in any manner of ways like having your back give out when lifting your table, acute inflammation of finger and wrist joints from too much finger tip or pinching work, shoulder or pec strains, neck spasms from looking down too much. 

I would say that this is the least common that I have seen, as most injuries or pain occur over a long period of time. 

This being said, what are some ways that you can alleviate some of this pain quickly? If this is bad enough that it has you worried about further harm, I would see someone about this quickly as to make sure this doesn’t get worse, but after it is out of this acute stage and the inflammation has died down a bit, you can start to move through some range of motion to build some neural adaptation. 

Moving almost to the point of pain

This is something that I strongly recommend doing if you are out of that acute stage of inflammation and pain.

Moving just slightly to the point of pain, nearly teasing a pain response and back down can build neural adaptation and confidence and will help free up tightness and tension experienced because of your injury.

A good example of this is, if you have a lower back posterior disk issue, then doing a McKenzie pressup just slightly to the point of a sharp sensation and back down will over a short period of time could help.

The other thing I want to make mention of here is the frequency in which these stretches or exercises are completed. I have always found that the more frequent (to an extent, of course) your movement and work, the faster your bodies ability is to recover.

The best thing that you can do, in my opinion, is to keep moving and not stay complacent, if of course the injury is in the stage that can allow for it. Resting through an entire healing cycle has the ability to make the tissue weaker and actually more injury prone. I also strongly believe in the application of heat to an affected muscle.

Application of heat

Some may not agree with me here. . . but I’ve never believed in the efficacy of the RICE method.  Getting nutrient rich blood to areas that need healing can be a great way to kick start the process and it has a good parasympathetic nervous system response which is what is needed for things to heal, again in my opinion. 


2. Overuse and onset pain

Like I mentioned earlier in this post, overuse injuries are more of an issue that we see as therapists.

You see, when you do the same thing over and over throughout your career, you are bound to develop chronic holding patterns that can result a lot of times in pain and overuse injuries.

When this develops there is kind of a pain and tension feedback loop that continues on until an injury occurs. 

A big reason for this is the underdevelopment of antagonist muscles, which I covered in the last podcast episode “Why Therapists Need To Strengthen Antagonist Muscles“, so if you haven’t listened to that yet, I would recommend checking that out.

For therapists that don’t make this a focus in self-care, there is a huge power differential between agonists that we use a lot and antagonists, which can result in these overuse type injuries.

We see these present themselves in anterior shoulder and pec strains, low back disc issues, thoracic outlet and neck to name a few.  

I would say, this type of pain or injury is a bit harder to fix than acute injuries. Just think about the things that you do constantly day in and day out. That being said, it isn’t as easy as 1-2-3, most times it takes a lot of time to heal these types of injuries.

Something that therapists tend to do a lot of thumb work. This may feel great to clients and might be effective at treating muscles but the thumb joint is small and cannot naturally take a lot of pressure, weight or wear and tear. If you use your thumb just think about how much you actually use it. Say you use it for 10 minutes out of the session, multiply that by 4 sessions a day and if you’re working 5 days a week that’s a little over an hour and a half a week that you are using a joint that doesn’t support the type of pressure that we put upon it. By the time a year rolls around, you have used it so much that things can start to happen to it. Tension, pain and even compensation can move up the forearm and up to the shoulder and upper back. 

Yes you can work this stuff to death, but nothing will work better than actually changes those habits, or getting to the root of why you have the issue in the first place.

If you’re having issues related to thumb use, things that would help are to start to use your elbow more, and getting away from using the thumb a lot in practice. Even just using it 2 minutes out of the session instead of 10 can be a huge help.

Within successful bodyworker, I am working on an awesome and extensive resource called the MT Injury Roadmap.

This will be in depth 3 stage roadmap that can help anyone that has either a post-acute injury, so out of the inflammatory stage or has had an injury before and just want to prevent another from happening.

Overuse injuries and pain are something that can definitely be solved with this roadmap. By working on those all too neglected antagonist muscles, we can begin to change the narrative about our injuries and pain.

How to track your progress

Exhausted Adaptive Potential injuries are often times the most complex because, the pain is so far removed from where it started that it’s hard to find the actual starting place. This can be caused by a trauma not healing properly and developing into something that can affect certain areas of the body. 

A good example of this is if a person gets into a car accident and hurts their hip. This injury heals over the course of a few months but doesn’t exactly heal properly. A year and a half later, that hip injury caused this person to walk differently and started to affect their neck on the right side.

To them – this pain can seem to come out of nowhere but sometimes all it takes to find it out is someone who has a good and keen eye for these sorts of injuries.

That’s why my recommendation here is to have a good in depth conversation into past health history and injuries with a medical professional. 

Afterall, if you or I have trouble finding the root cause, what is the chance that you will find it by happenstance? Have somebody check it out for you!

Summing it all up

I want to thank you for checking out this post and podcast episode. I hoped this helped you to understand some ways to help heal and alleviate some of the pain and injuries that we face as therapists.


    How having more strength can help take your pressure to the next level

    Why strength endurance is a must if you want to have a long lasting career as a bodyworker

→    How to use Rate of Perceived Exertion to make the choices for resistance


With some tender love and care, we can heal these things if we are in the proper mindset to heal. Stay tuned for the next episode. . . Healing mindset will be the next topic!

If you’re currently dealing with pain or injury, what are some ways that you are dealing with it? Please leave it in the comments below.


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About Me

My name is Zack Mayfield and I am in the constant pursuit to help each and every therapist achieve strength, better self-care and longevity in their career!

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