Learning from my injuries

“To health, spiritual wealth and happiness!”

Within my first year of practice, I went from being a full-time sedentary student to a full-time Registered Massage Therapist working five days a week and seeing up to 7 people a day. I was busy! The physical demands in my work life went from a 2 out of 10, to a 9 out of 10 within weeks. In about six months I started experiencing pain from the amount of strength it takes to give repetitive daily deep tissue massage. The pain progression began slowly, starting with discomfort and achy muscular pain. It progressed to hot, gnawing, constant nerve pain in my shoulders and upper back. At the height of it, I was in a chronic state of distress icing every night after work. I was genuinely concerned; I loved my career helping people with their physical troubles. However, I wasn’t sure of my fate or longevity as an RMT.

In school, we learned self-care. We spoke about posture, stretching, strengthening and hydrotherapy. I started taking care of my body stretching multiple times a day to the opposing muscles that were giving me grief. The muscles in the front of my upper body were all short and tight because that’s where most of the strength to do massage is derived. The more symptomatic muscles like rhomboids, levator scapulae, middle and lower trapezius in the back were all inflamed and overtired. I sought massage therapy and chiropractic, and it all helped. I was getting short-term relief, but the treatments didn’t resolve my pain. I knew I needed more muscular strength and fascial integrity.

I began cardio kickboxing class twice a week. The fast-paced workout helped me strengthen my fascia and balance my muscles. It helped with my core and built more fast twitch muscle fibres. After about two months of consistent exercise, I was noticing I could go a day or two without having to ice after work. I kept the pain away with regular strengthening, however, if I stopped the pain returned. I knew this would be a life-long commitment. I was happy I knew how to take care of my body.

Since then I’ve increased the intensity and frequency of my workouts by adding a variety of strengthening exercises. I enjoy road and indoor biking, running, weight training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) plyometrics and yoga. I believe the different types of exercise help keep my body aligned, flexible and robust. The journey I began more than ten years ago to prevent my pain has enabled me to differentiate between what exercises work best to remedy various types of pain. Also, I’ve overcome a variety of soft tissue injuries. To name a few: bursitis, tennis elbow, insidious knee pain, tibial joint sprain, grade 2 ankle sprains, fractured tail-bone, whiplash, hip flexor strains, sciatica, lower back strains from scoliosis, hip pain, core instability and shoulder sprains. All have taught me how to help further people with their recoveries.