Stretch Out Your Neck:
Why: Massage therapists spend a lot of time massaging, but we also spend a lot of time on computers.
A few times a day, take a minute to safely take your neck through its degrees of motion.
What: Sit balanced or square up your stance and shake your shoulders out. Let your head drop to one side, with your ear falling towards that same shoulder. Let yourself have a heavy head, even if you have to remind yourself that your head will not fall off! Relax into that position for at least 15 seconds. With your head still leaning to the side, turn your head to look towards the ground. This will target some of the muscles more medial in the back. Hold again.
With your head still to the side, rotate so that you are looking up to the ceiling. This position will target your anterior neck without crunching the cervical vertebrae. Pause again, then gently come back to the center. Last but not least, repeat to the other side!
Pro-Tip: This is a great stretch to do in the shower while letting the warm water relax the muscles. Think of it as a way to say good morning to your neck!
Reset Your Shoulder Girdle:
Why: Remind your shoulder girdle how to be open, relaxed, and back to an optimal you. So much of our work is curled in front of us, so this tip is a simple way to open your chest, drop your shoulders, and relax.
What: Standing evenly or sitting up, scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, keeping the tension until you start to shake a little. While still having your shoulder up to your ears, laterally rotate your humerus, take a deep breath in, and on the exhale, let your shoulders drop. You should feel your chest open, your shoulders relaxed, your neck is tall, and your head should be more aligned to the frontal line.
Pro-Tip: Reset your shoulders every time you change the sheets on your massage table. It takes only seconds, and it put you back into a “non-hunched” posture before your next client.
The Door Stretch:
Why: Again, most of the work massage therapists do are in front of us, so any self-care we can do to find a balance can be helpful.
What: This variation of the door stretch specifically targets pectoralis minor. This is the stronger of the two pectorals and requires a different angle to really focus. Stand in an open doorway with the side you are going to stretch closest to the frame. Use your other hand to
make the “hand over heart” gesture. This is to help give you an initial angle to raise the stretching arm to match the trajectory of the pectoralis minor. You might have to play around with how high you rest your arm on the doorway to get the best stretch for you. Keep your elbow bent, so you have more support on the doorframe. Once you are secure, turn your whole body slowly away from that arm and hold the stretch. Repeat to the other side!
Pro-Tip: Do this doorway stretch every time you go to the restroom. It’s an excellent way to get some self-care peppered into your day!
Two Way Ham String Stretch:
Why: The hamstrings have two main groups. Biceps femoris is on the lateral aspect, while semitendinosus and semimembranosus are medial. This is good to keep in mind when addressing the posterior leg.
What: Think of a standard hamstring stretch with your leg propped up on a chair or stool. Most people extend over their leg straight on, which is fine! But this version asks you to also rotate laterally, before stretching over. Turn medial, and do the same. You are changing angles changes the stretch, helping to address the whole group.
Pro-Tip: Go slow! The hamstrings are one of the more commonly strained muscle groups.
Ice Your Forearms:
Why: Helps with inflammation!
What: Icing your forearms doesn’t have to be scary. You don’t have to dunk your arms in a giant tub of ice water or earn a polar bear badge. In general, all you need is a single ice cube per arm. Run an ice cube up and down your forearms and hands until it completely melts.
Pro-Tip: If you have children or are around youngsters, ask them to help ice your forearms. They will have a blast and are more likely to remember to do it since, to them, it’s silly fun!