The time has come to close out the difficult chapter that was 2021 and transition into 2022. While the last few years have not been easy for anyone, we, as practitioners, have found ourselves in the privileged position of being able to offer comfort and relief to our clients during these unprecedented times.
With every new year comes new trends and tools which bear consideration for the field of massage therapy. In this article, I will outline some of the best new massage tools available on to the profession, as well as some trends to look out for in the coming year.
Massage Therapy Tools to Consider in 2022
While some of the following items are not necessarily “new,” these tools are making a resurgence and growing in popularity for massage practitioners so that we can best serve our clients.
Prehab Exercise Equipment
As massage practitioners, we have many tools that are extremely valuable to us. But certain things, such as our tables, lotions, and towels are expendable. We can recycle these materials and buy new ones when needed.
Our bodies, on the other hand, are not replaceable. When our hands and backs break down, we either have to modify our practice or switch to a new field entirely.
For this reason, investing in “prehab” exercise equipment to keep our bodies strong and resistant to injury is paramount.
Some of the best prehab exercise equipment for massage practitioners include:
- Finger extension resistance bands. No matter what we do in a typical day, our finger flexors are consistently worked harder and longer than our finger extensors. As we know, muscle imbalance across joints can often lead to pain and dysfunction. Fortunately, we can keep our fingers and hands strong by investing in finger extensor bands (or just by using a simple rubber band!)
- Functional exercise equipment.* Exercise tools such as kettlebells, maces, Swiss balls and the like may seem gimmicky at first glance. But these pieces of equipment have been shown to improve core stability and strength, which, in turn, can lead to decreased back pain. *Importantly, before embarking on a kettlebell program (or any other exercise/lifestyle change), ensure that you educate yourself on proper form and understand any risks involved. You should also consider a consultation with your physician before entering into a functional strength training program.
- Exercise trackers. Through the use of a device such as the Apple Watch, we can track our movement throughout the day and ensure that we are getting the recommended amount of exercise in order to stay healthy.
Effective Personal Protective Equipment
COVID 19 has been in the elephant in every room for the past few years, and I know we’re all sick of hearing about it. However, at the time of writing this article, case numbers are at an all-time high.
While public health professionals sort out issues related to the virus, we need to take whatever steps we can to remain healthy and free from disease. The following PPE recommendations are easy to transport and effective for identifying disease and avoiding transmission:
- Non-Contact Thermometers. Fever is a sign of many diseases and is easy to detect through the use of a non-contact thermometer. By taking our clients’ temperatures before beginning a session, we can identify whether or not it is safe to proceed with treatment.
- Affordable and Environmentally-Friendly Table Covers. Finding covers that do not lead to huge amounts of waste while keeping patients free from transmission of other diseases is a must for massage practitioners.
- Safe Disinfectants. Along with the use of equipment covers, eco-friendly, non-toxic disinfectants can help maintain clean and disease-free surfaces during our sessions.
Best Available Technology
Smartphone apps and other software can transform a massage therapist’s practice. While there is something to be said for doing things without technology, ignoring the newest software advances in the field is a recipe for getting left behind as our peers improve and move forward in their careers.
Some software and apps which can help massage therapists include:
- Simplepractice. Simplepractice provides an easy way for massage practitioners to manage all aspects of their practice. This app allows therapists to easily schedule clients, collect payments, and do virtually everything else that is needed for success in the field.
- Massage Trigger Points. For those that have been out in the field for many years, there may be little need to reference anatomical sites of trigger points and similar areas of study. But for those who are newer to the field, students, and others who like to have access to reference materials on their smartphone, apps such as “massage trigger points” are the perfect addition to an app collection.
- Mental Health Apps. While we are often the ones providing relief to those in pain, we can experience mental health issues ourselves. Therefore, investing in a quality mental health app such as Headspace, Sanvello, or Calm can go a long way in improving our own mental states, which will translate to better relationships with, and service to our clients.
3 Massage Trends to Watch for in 2022
1. Exploring New Niches
As times have changed over the years, so will the popular client niches. There are many untapped markets that can be explored through trial and error (within reason) and continuing education opportunities.
For example, in the last year, I and many of my colleagues have seen an increase in injuries related to more people working from home with inappropriate desk set-ups.
Neck strains and extremely poor posture have become the norm for this patient population and enabled me to provide learning opportunities, write papers, and present online seminars on the best ergonomic set-ups for long-term work from home. This led to me gaining more clients and increased my reach with a whole new group of individuals.
This trend of “work from home stiffness” is likely to continue as many offices have transitioned to hybrid and remote models. Likewise, there may be other interesting niches that present in the next year that occur in certain regions or industries. We need to keep our eyes peeled and be ready to adapt!
2. Client-Centric Care
We live in a time where clients and patients play a very active role in their care. This is undoubtedly a good thing, but it’s important to keep in mind when discussing strategies and techniques with them.
The importance of ensuring that the client gets what he or she wants out of the session cannot be overstated. Even if we think a certain technique may be a better fit for the client’s needs, and express as much to him or her, we need to be aware that clients know their own bodies better than we ever could. Furthermore, through the latest advancements in internet technology, clients can become extremely well-versed in topics related to the massage field.
This new dynamic means that we must transition to being a partner in the client’s journey toward wellness, rather than a separate practitioner who simply provides treatment which is then received by the client. Many therapists have already made this transition, but we still have a long way to go before we have achieved fully client-centric care.
3. Doing More with Less
Unfortunately, it seems as though supply chain issues may continue for the next few years. This means that new materials we order may take a very long time to arrive, forcing us to adapt our practice accordingly.
Case in point, after my massage table was no longer usable, it took months for a new one I had ordered to arrive. Therefore, I needed to adapt and figure out different ways to accomplish the same goals for my clients.
While it wasn’t always easy or pretty, I was able to develop some different ways of performing massages using chairs and other items available to me.
As we continue to navigate these supply chain woes, we need to be adaptable and figure out ways to do as much as we can, even if we don’t have every tool we would like at our disposal.
No matter what this year brings, a big theme moving forward is preparedness. We need to be prepared for whatever may come and be able to adapt at a moment’s notice. Our clients need us, and we need to be ready to serve them physically, mentally, and with whatever tools we have available.