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Posted by Una Tucker, Aug 8 2014 1:27PM

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Using supplemental tools in massage - a sensible move or just cheating?

HI Everbybody

I'm a registered massage therapist who designed a really good supplemental massage tool called 'the Kneader' that therapists can use in their treatments to save their hands from strain during deep and/or repetitive movements. Initially, I designed the tool for my clients to use in-between their treatments with me; but when I began to trial the tool with fellow therapists prior to manufacture, I realised how much the professionals wanted and needed such a product.

The upside of our industry's continual growth is that massage therapists are doing more massage treatments. The downside is this means that RSI-related injuries are on the increase. Some studies reckon that a therapist's career is, on average, about 5yrs at best, which is a rather depressing statistic. Whenever I take the Kneader to a tradeshow, I am innundated with therapists complaining of sore fingers, thumbs and wrists. The therapists come in all shapes, ages, sizes and levels of experience - the only common denominator is that they are working longer hours and they are feeling the strain, especially their thumbs (and once a thumb is busted, so is your career).

I would therefore like my fellow therapists' thoughts on the use of tools in massage: to explore why tool-use is not part of the general teaching curriculum, what therapists need (i.e. tool-use vs 'hands-free'), do therapists consider themselves 'cheating' when using a supplmental massage tool in treatments, is there a need for supplmental tools vs tool therapies such as 'Hot Stones' and, overall, where the industry is going with regard to tool use.

I look forward to your replies. All the very best! Una, Kneads Must www.kneadsmust.com

John Tindale
Sep 30 2014 2:58PM
Hi Ina. I used to think that it was cheating to use tools because you can't feel in the same way as with the fingers or thumbs. I discovered the benefits when doing self treatment. I think that once you have identified a specific problem by conventional means, it makes sense if possible to use some tools as long as one gets continious feedback from the client. I sometimes make use of a golf ball in the palm of the hand which can be very effective. Good luck in your venture.
Una Tucker
Oct 9 2014 3:11PM
Thanks for your good wishes and your posting, John. You're path to using tools is not unusual - so many therapists are suspicious of using them because they don't feel 'organic' or that the touch connection to the client is broken. Eventually, the demands of short-term and long-term necessities opens the door to using supplemental tools and they usually embrace them wholeheartedly after that. Supplemental tools are not there to become treatments in themselves but to help, pure and simple. The fact therapist injury is on the rise and the average massage therapist's career is estimated to be 5yrs means that what we are doing (or the way we are doing it) is not good enough and new techniques and tools are being invented every year to cope with the demand. Do try out the Kneader if you can - we're on Amazon for £20 and you might find it a bit easier to use and more versatile than a golf ball! All the very best - Una

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