As a massage therapist, do you wish to improve your job performance? While working harder can provide some benefits, it can also cause adverse effects such as exhaustion, stress, injury, and job dissatisfaction. In massage therapy, the key objective is to work “smarter, not harder.”    

You can achieve this goal in various ways. They include learning the different types of natural plant-based oils for massage therapy. You can also learn different kinds of pain clients may have, including backbone and spinal pain.  

It’s also helpful to know about how different types of massage, such as post-lipo massage, work.    

Here are some other ways you can work smarter as a therapeutic massage therapist:  

Learn to Maintain Your Health and Wellness 

Massage therapists help maintain the health and well-being of clients. However, you can achieve that goal more effectively if you also manage your health and wellness.  

When you arrive at work, it’s critical to be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to start working. For instance, make sure you’re not hungry, exhausted, or upset.  

It’s also helpful if you’re in good shape since working as a massage therapist can be physically demanding. Make sure to do regular cardiovascular and weight-resistance exercises.  

While at work, you can also take steps to maintain good health. Take breaks when necessary so you don’t become physically and mentally exhausted. Make healthy choices for lunches and pick healthy snacks during your breaks.  

Another option is to take at least a ten-minute break between massage sessions. Lie down on the massage table and put your feet up. Sometimes you also may need to take a day off to rejuvenate your body and mind.  

Learn Techniques That Don’t Strain Your Body  

You can uncover several methodologies that will keep your client comfier while not straining your body. Look for ones that are founded on current medical knowledge about how the nervous system and body function.   

You can add some basic techniques or components to improve the massage’s results. One example is warm flax pillows.  

These pillows may provide a comfortable experience for both the client and therapist. They can even function as heat packs to help the therapist maintain warm hands.  

Learn How the Human Body Works  

While massage therapists provide treatments for people’s bodies, several misconceptions exist in the field about how the body works. 

One example is deep tissue massage. Many therapists have the misconception that this massage technique can target particular tissues.  

For example, therapists are often trained to place pressure on particular tendons, ligaments, and muscles to lengthen or release them.  

Therapists may then put mechanical pressure on clients’ bodies, putting extra stress on the body. Such rigorous massages may cause unwanted effects, such as nerve damage, on clients prone to injury.   

Meanwhile, learning that we cannot alter tissues by pressing on them can be enlightening. It can avoid putting unnecessary stress on clients’ bodies and therapists who likewise expose their joints to wear and tear. 

A better approach to massage is to manipulate the nervous system to relax. Coaxing the body into relaxation may help reduce pain and tension.  

Learn New Massage Techniques 

As with other fields, it’s critical to keep learning and stay curious to improve your massage skills. Are you an experienced therapist? You can still learn something new about massage modalities (modes).  

You can also learn new massage techniques. A massage therapy program provided by a vocational school is one of the most practical options.  

Such programs require you to attend classes and work in real-life settings that provide actual training. You’ll also have the ability to learn from a well-educated massage therapist.  

Learn How to Use Your Hands Differently 

Massage therapists can injure their fingers and thumbs over time by using improper techniques. It is key to massage without applying too much pressure on the thumbs.  

What should you do if a client requests hard pressure? Avoid using your thumbs to push hard. Instead, utilize the heel of your hand to add firm pressure.  

This technique will be easier for your clients and yourself while still triggering a nervous system response.   

Learn to Stay Relaxed 

While massage therapists often tell clients, “try to relax,” they may not take their own advice. Being tense and strained during massage sessions may negatively affect your massage’s effectiveness. 

Tense bodies can affect body parts such as their shoulders, arms, and hands. They can also cause stress-related fatigue.  

When a therapist feels better, the massage can feel better. You can experiment by testing how a rigid and relaxed hand feels on your upper leg. Then put yourself in your client’s shoes.  

Suppose you’re feeling sad, anxious, or irritable. These feelings may affect your stroke and kneading techniques, affecting your client’s overall experience.  

Learn from a Massage Mentor 

One of the fastest ways to become a smarter therapist is by learning from gurus. Find a massage therapist with several years of experience who isn’t in pain from work.  

Have them monitor you massaging a client to determine how you can improve your skills, such as proper body mechanics. Body mechanics are the way you hold your body when moving.  

An alternative to in-person mentoring is through video platforms. This option is more convenient since no travel time is required. It’s also ideal during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Learn About the Latest Pain Science 

How pain functions is one of the most important topics to learn in terms of massage therapeutics. For example, improper massage techniques may increase pain instead of alleviating it.  

When conducted effectively, therapeutic massage can function as part of a client’s pain management regimen. Studies have investigated the pain-relieving effects of massage for various body parts, including the neck, back, hands, and knees.  

You can find a wide selection of resources about pain science. Books, articles, and videos are some of the various ones from which you can select.  

Learn to Educate Your Clients  

Your patients may have the notion that they must feel the pain to get rid of it. However, a “hard massage” may worsen the client’s conditions and cause pain and discomfort for the therapist.  

You can educate clients about making changes to their bodies without hard pressure.  

It’s about sharing how massage works through the nervous system rather than mechanical force. Research shows that moderate-pressure massages can trigger the nervous system. 

This process can help clients unlearn the notion that “no pain, no gain” applies to effective massages. You can explain that you can use firm (not hard) pressure. This technique can help avoid hurting the client. 

Learn How Holistic Therapy Works  

Holistic medicine aims to help create balance within a person physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  

Here are some elements to include in the massage session: 

  • Relaxing music (for example, soft instrumentals and meditation music)  
  • Aromatherapy (for example, essential oils or essential oil diffuser)  
  • Green tea or herbal tea (before or after the massage session) 

Taking a holistic (whole-body) approach may be effective even if you provide a basic foot massage or back massage.   

Learn to Make Learning Part of Working   

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) magazine reported that 80% of CEOs believe that their most significant business challenge is the requirement to gain new skills.  

Research also shows that development opportunities have become critical for employees. It’s the second-most important factor related to workplace happiness, only following the work itself, according to the HBR.   

These findings show the value of workplace learning for both employees and employers. While learning more about massage can improve your work skills and performance, it can also become part of your lifelong learning process.  

For example, consider the various types of massage, including Swedish massage, Shiatsu massage, and sports massage. Learning their techniques or a combination of methods can help therapists achieve optimal treatment outcomes.  


We never stop learning in life. That includes improving our careers as therapeutic massage therapists. You can discover how to improve your profession through factors related to massaging, the client, and you, the therapist. They’re big lessons learned.  

Photo by Ale Romo Photography from Unsplash 


1. Principles of holistic medicine

2. Therapeutic massage for pain relief

3. Making learning a part of everyday work

4. The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies

5. 5 side effects of working too much

6. Cardiovascular Training Vs. Strength Training for Weight Loss

7. Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response

8. Massage Therapy: What You Need To Know

9. Stress management