The Fitness Zone

Simple Exercises To Improve Your Strength As A Massage Therapist

Jul 13, 2022 | by AIF

Massage therapy is a demanding job. It’s physical. And you need to be in your best physical state in order to ensure your clients are getting the best possible service.

But looking after yourself whilst improving your strength and wellbeing isn’t as easy as it sounds. Lucky for you, we’ve got some tips and tricks to ensure your hand, neck and shoulder strength are top notch.

How massage therapists should care for their hands

When you’re a massage therapist, your hands are your livelihood, so if they’re injured or struggling, you won’t be able to do your job properly, if at all. Importantly, it’s not uncommon for massage therapists to suffer from injuries, especially in your hands, wrists and arms. This is simply because of the nature of the job and the physical strain your hands take.

According to a recent survey, the areas where massage therapists felt the most amount of pain after giving a massage were in the wrist and thumbs. While this is often caused by improper technique, it can also just be your hands tiring from the amount of pressure you’re putting them under. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your hands are as strong as possible.

As the saying goes, the best cure is prevention, and there are plenty of things you can do to ensure you don’t end up with injured hands.

6 hand exercises for massage therapists

By incorporating some simple exercises into your daily routine, you can strengthen your hands and arms to ensure you don’t fall victim to injuries.

  •   Warm up your hands and fingers by shaking them vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  •   Clasp your hands together, turn your hands over so your palms are facing away from your body. Then straighten your arms, pressing your hands away from you. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
  •   Holding a tennis ball in your left hand, rest your forearm on a table or bench. Squeeze the tennis ball for five seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times and then switch to your right hand.
  •   In a seated position, rest your hands on your thighs with your palms facing upwards. Close both hands into a fist (don’t clench too tightly). Bend your wrists, raising them towards your body. Hold this for 10 seconds. Release and open your fingers wide. Repeat 10 times.
  •   Stimulate circulation by massaging each finger from the knuckles to the fingertips for around 10 seconds.
  •   Holding your fists at chest level, rotate both hands clockwise for 10 seconds, then go anticlockwise for another 10.

How massage therapists should care for their neck and shoulders

Any good massage therapist will tell you that most of their strength comes from their legs and core. However, as a massage therapist, you’ll still be using your neck and shoulders during every single appointment.

Given massage therapists spend so much time on their feet, it’s easy to slip into bad posture which can result in discomfort and indeed, injury.

3 back exercises for massage therapists

There are, of course, several things you can do to ensure you avoid any injury to your neck or shoulders.

Throughout the day, perform chin retraction exercises. Pull your chin directly back towards your spine. Put simply, make a double chin.
After each massage session, stretch your neck to each side of your body, like you’re trying to touch your ear to your shoulder. Then, try to touch your chest with your chin. If necessary, you can use your hands to help pull your head gently. It’s also a good idea to do an alternate neck stretch which basically means pulling your neck forward as if you’re trying to look at your armpits.
A good shoulder roll can also work wonders in between appointments. Standing with your back straight, and your shoulders down, lift your shoulders towards your ears and roll back. Do this 10 times. Then do the same, but roll your shoulders forward.

How massage therapists can prevent injuring themselves

Remember, ensuring your body is agile and injury-free is important, but don’t take exercise too far. Exercising with your job as a massage therapist in mind if important, but it’s just as vital to avoid exercises that can be damaging or painful. Generally speaking, avoid exercises that put too much pressure on your body, require repetitive movements or put your body into awkward postures.

On top of the exercising and looking after your body, there are things you can do to strengthen your body and hands during the day.

  •  Understand how many massages you can effectively perform in a day and don’t exceed this.
  •  Take a 10 to 15-minute break in between massage treatments.
  •  Warm up before the day and cool down at the end.
  •  Make sure you get plenty of sleep, prioritise your nutrition and ensure you’re getting plenty of water.
  •  Remember to breathe. So often, people hold their breath while concentrating and this can happen as a massage therapist too. Throughout each session, remember to take notice of your breathing and your body. Deepen your breath while you’re working as this will help to relax your body further.

It’s all about working smarter, not harder.



The Australian Institute of Fitness
The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) is the largest and longest established fitness training organisation in Australia, with dynamic training methods and expert course coaches nationwide - spanning fitness, massage and nutrition. The AIF qualifies more fitness professionals than any other provider in Australia, as well as offering a broad range of continuing education courses (CEC), upskilling resources and partnership programs for existing industry.

Read more articles

View all articles

Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.