Nobody has time for pain. We think we do. We push past headaches, backaches, sore shoulders, hips and knees because we think something else takes priority. I am known for considering my pain an inconvenience instead of an important message from my body. Recently my sore hands and hip have been nagging loudly and regularly enough for me to take a step back and think about self care as it relates to my durability as a massage therapist. If I don’t start looking at my body as my prized possession, then there’s little hope that I’m going to make it 15 or more years in this industry. The average career for a massage therapist is about 5 years!
Pain is the main and most effective way our bodies have to tell us that we need to change what we’re doing. Repetitive stress injuries can start out as a sore wrist or shoulder and develop into a condition that requires surgery if we don’t address it in a timely manner. In fact, workplace and musculoskeletal injuries in particular make up a major part of health care costs. Appointments, sick days, medications and surgeries cost billions of dollars every year:
- Nearly 1 out of every 2 U.S. citizens suffer from a musculoskeletal (bone, muscle or joint) disorder.
- The most common disorders are: arthritis and related conditions; back and neck pain; injuries from falls, work, military service and sports; and osteoporosis.
- Musculoskeletal disorders cost $213 billion dollars annually in treatment and lost wages.
- The average annual cost per individual for treating a musculoskeletal condition is $7,800.
- Disability caused by musculoskeletal disorders is the third leading reason for early retirement in the United States.
The heartbreaker of this situation is these injuries can be prevented. There are many products and resources available to design ergonomic work spaces and safe ways of moving and working to prevent injury. The biggest challenge is that so many of us don’t take action before aches become pains. When I was training for my massage degree I was horrible about body mechanics. I was always catching the stink eye from the instructor because of the my awkward or poor stance. I was too interested in my client or the technique that I was learning to pay attention how I was working. Five years later I’m finally learning to pay attention to myself while I work so that I can avoid numb and tingling hands, and aching elbows and hips.
That is why we encourage regular massage. On our tables we have the ability to reduce tension, return balance to tight and twisted tissues and maintain glide and movement in the tissues. That means we can help repair the wear and tear you’ve earned over the 160 to 200 hours per month you’re spending on your job. We can help your body avoid or recover from surgery. A regimen of a monthly massage costs $720 a year with our wellness plan. If it can keep you from missing work because of an injury or prevent the thousands of dollars and inconvenience of recuperation it is a worthwhile investment.
There are ways to help with the hit to the pocketbook, too. Investing in a Health Savings Account makes it a little easier to put money aside every pay check so the $60 per month is easier to acquire. Some employers offer incentives for participating in wellness programs. In many cases the funds already exist, it’s just a matter of being more mindful of purchases and changing priorities. I love my coffee as much as the next person, but I’m willing to cut out my bi weekly $5 latte if it increases my chances of not needing a hip replacement in my golden years. The truth is we don’t have time for pain. Good health isn’t something you can catch up on, it’s built carefully one decision at a time over the course of your lifetime. The sooner you put your wellness as a priority, the longer you’ll have to enjoy it.
“About half of U.S. adults have a musculoskeletal disorder: report.” Safety and Health Magazine, https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/13786-about-half-of-us-adults-have-a-musculoskeletal-disorder-report. Accessed November 29, 2019.
“Musculoskeletal Guidelines.” Multiple Chronic Conditions Resource Center, https://www.multiplechronicconditions.org/musculoskeletal-guidelines. Accessed November 29, 2019.