The duties of a massage therapist go well beyond the scope of just “hands on” care. Working in compromising positions, complying to pressure demands and being on your feet for extended periods of time take an expected toll on the body, and often result in injuries. Before you seek out pain relief options like opioids, consider educating yourself on the reasons why your injuries are occurring and change the way you practice. With the help of an article posted by the AMTA, here are some suggestions from leaders in the massage therapy industry on kick-starting your self-care efforts.

How to avoid four common massage therapy injuries

Common Massage Therapy Injury: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The cause: Overuse of the wrist joint and/or the fingers

How to prevent it:

  • Joe Muscolino suggests avoiding full wrist joint extension accompanied by finger flexion.
  • He also urges massage therapists to find alternatives to using the palm to transmit pressure, such as slightly supinating the forearm, using the ulnar side of the hand instead of the center of the anterior wrist or palm, or just using your forearms altogether.
  • In the mean time, the topical analgesic Biofreeze has been proven to significantly decrease hand & wrist pain by 34% in carpal tunnel syndrome. Use this at home or in between sessions, along with your self-massage and stretching regimen to maximize pain relief as you’re taking preventative measures.


Common Massage Therapy Injury: Tenosynovitis

The cause: Overuse use of the tendons of the thumb

How to prevent it:

  • Whitney Lowe recommends adequately conditioning yourself for the physical demands of massage therapy, as well as regular stretching.
  • He also suggests self-massage to help reduce symptoms. Using the Bon Vital’ Muscle Therapy line, you can successfully perform a self-massage with the added benefit of a warming, soothing sensation to your tired tendons and muscles.


Common Massage Therapy Injury: Neck Strain

The cause: Constant generation of pressure with the upper body for extended periods of time.

How to prevent it:

  • Muscolino encourages massage therapists to generate pressure from the core of their body.
  • He also urges to not hold the head and neck in flexion, simply fixed by not looking at the strokes. Keep them in a neutral, extended position.
  • Applying kinesiology tape to the cervical spine has been shown reduce neck pain. Learn a simple taping technique that may help you throughout your workday.


Common Massage Therapy Injury: Shoulder Strain

The cause: Either holding the arms out in a flexion and/or abducted position or producing pressure from the shoulders.

How to prevent it:


To read about more common massage therapy injuries and learn how to jump start your self-care regimen, read the full AMTA article.


Andersen LL, et al. Effectiveness of small daily amounts of progressive resistance training for frequent neck/shoulder pain: Randomised controlled trial. Pain. 2011 Feb;152(2):440-6.
Sundstrup E, et al. 2014. Acute Effect of Topical Menthol on Chronic Pain in Slaughterhouse Workers with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Triple-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial Rehabilitation Research and Practice 2014(310913):1-6

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