Manual Therapy and Avoiding Injury
Now, I've had injuries, and I'm sure you have in the past too. But when your livelihood depends on being able to use your hands for hours every day, the risk of injuries becoming chronic is much, much greater.
Let me tell you a story about a lady I know who had that exact same situation.
This lady (we'll call her Angela) had been a licenced massage therapist for several years already. She had a thriving and busy practice which she really enjoyed working in.
Her problem started when she noticed a slight pain in her left wrist. The pain would come at the end of the day - after she'd stopped concentrating on helping her clients.
Then, she started noticing the pain around lunchtime.
By the end of the second week, Angela's pain would start as soon as she began massaging. And it had spread up to her forearm and down into her thumb.
Now she was worried. She increased the self treatment and stretches that she already did. However, the pain didn't go away, and soon she found that even simple household chores would switch the pain on.
Angela didn't know it, but she was fast headed towards a cliff edge.
Despite the pain, she was working doing massage 6 hours, five days a week. And the majority of her patients came for deep muscle and tissue massage, not for a light relaxation massage.
I only met her years after this all happened, but she told me the diagnoses for her problem ranged from carpal tunnel syndrome to tendonitis and everything in between.
The bottom line though was that she'd created an injury through overuse, and she need 2 kinds of treatments to fix it.
The first treatment would be to treat the injury. The second treatment was to rest. And with bills to pay and clients booked in, Angela didn't rest - until it was too late.
Eventually, Angela had to close her practice down. She had constant pain in her left arm, and she could barely make a fist.
She went on a disability benefit for several months while she came to terms with her injury and what it meant for her career.
It was a very hard time, but she pulled through, and retrained. Nowadays she has a practice where she corrects posture and breathing, and is a registered Feldenkrais practitioner.
And while her new career is rewarding, she told me that if she'd been able to achieve the balance of treatments that she does now, she would have been able to avoid injury and still have her massage career.
Now, why tell you this story?
Because as a manual therapist, your hands are your livelihood.
And if you don't have strategies in place to prevent injury, you too could be heading for a cliff edge and not know it.
The best time to plan for injury prevention was three years ago. The second best time is now.
That's a big reason why I think all manual therapists should have other tools they can use to treat clients when their hands need a rest.
Because in this case, prevention is always better than cure.
So tomorrow, I'll share with you something you can use to treat patients with pinpoint precision while giving your hands a break.