By Una Tucker, FHT accredited provider at Kneader On-Site Massage
In our world of technology and fast-paced 24/7 lifestyles, getting a relaxing massage can be like stepping back into a simpler time. Although there are electric and battery-operated options, the majority of massage therapists have kept routines reliably simple and hands-on – a strategy that has proved costly for some as the growing popularity of massage treatments has dramatically increased demand. Therapists massaging for bigger companies or spas regularly work 40-hour weeks and such repetition/physical exertion has resulted in a dramatic increase in RSI and other such massage therapist-related injuries. In fact, the AMTA places the average career span for a massage therapist at just 7 years.
Despite such a growing problem, the massage industry itself has remained firmly on the fence when it comes to researching and/or promoting supplementary massage tools as a way for therapists to safeguard themselves and their careers. Although the massage tool market has seen some growth (largely due to the spa industry’s love of new kit), the majority of hand-held tools remain limited in their functionality, with the price and quality of what’s on offer being either basic budget or costly, quasi-medical implements. Hands-free techniques have grown in popularity yet some therapists (due to age, size or even physical ability) find the techniques and/or the positions difficult, proving that one size does not fit all.
What therapists need is a variety of reliable and affordable options but, more importantly, a change in the view that the use of supplemental tools somehow lessens the experience by breaking the direct contact between therapist and client. Hands-free and/or supplemental tools options suit a more pro-active and positive way before injuries occur, rather than leaving therapists to seek alternatives later in their career and, most likely, under duress.