Being on the receiving end of a massage can be thoroughly remedial, pain-relieving, relaxing, and even blissful. Thanks to the skill, energy, and passion of the massage therapist you typically come away feeling like a million bucks.
But for givers of such relief it’s hard work. Repeated treatments can generate overuse problems such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel, affecting the wrists, elbows, and shoulders, as well as problems with the hand and fingers.
There’s fatigue as well from the draining exertion.
Over time, the demanding nature of the work frequently contributes to burnout. A widely-quoted statistic from the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals organization indicates that something like 50,000 new students enroll in massage schools each year while 45,000 practitioners in the field decide to call it quits.
To prevent injury, burnout, and attrition, experts in the field emphasize strategies like proper technique, posture, a user-friendly workspace, adequate rest between sessions and workdays, an energy-boosting diet, not overbooking clients, continuing education, and seeking treatment at the first sign of injury.
What’s missing from these strategies is Earthing, grounding the body to the Earth.
From what we hear from massage therapists, being connected to Mother Earth, both during and off work, is a great boon.
Here are several examples:
• Tina Michaud-Gray, RN, LMT, The Rapid Recovery Center, in Dover, NH, has been sleeping and working grounded since 2004.
“I would not work without Earthing,” she says. “I stand on a conductive Earthing mat when doing messages and also put a conductive mat on the table under the chest or back of the client. Thus both the client and I have bare skin contact with the Earth’s healing energy, just as if we were both barefoot outdoors. We both benefit immensely.
“The mats are connected via a wire to the ground port (third hole) of a properly grounded wall outlet or to a ground rod placed in the Earth outside. Earthing doesn’t work on electricity. It transfers the Earth’s natural, surface energy to your body.
“All massage therapists know there is an exhaustion point in doing the physical work of massage therapy. The first day working grounded, I had so much energy I was able to work on twice as many clients as normal! I never lost energy or strength. The next day I had no soreness or fatigue. And it’s been like that ever since.
“I have thoroughly incorporated Earthing into my personal life. I sleep grounded as well, on a conductive sheet connected to the Earth. This way I am continually healing and rejuvenating myself.
“For my clients, adding Earthing technology to the treatment allows them to relax quicker as they lay on the table. With trigger point therapy, knots dissipate faster with Earthing, making it easier on me and less painful for the client. My clients all notice the difference that Earthing has made in their treatments.
“Today, I specialize in pain and rehabilitation treatments. I don’t do as many massages as before, but the ones I do include sessions up to five hours long for elite athlete clients. These are very large and muscular men. Thanks to Earthing, my energy and endurance levels are incredible. I can handle this and do much more than I would normally be able to do.”
• Kathy Rink, LMT, Essence Healing Arts Center, Pewaukee, Wisconsin, a massage therapist for nearly twenty-five years, says that since she started Earthing in early 2015, she noticed an increased energy level, especially at the end of day.
“I no longer feel tired, even after a full day of massaging clients. I Earth at home, using a conductive sheet while sleeping, and use conductive patches or wristbands when I’m sitting doing other tasks. Since I’ve been Earthing, the chronic low back pain I have had since I was 17 (a gymnastics injury) is significantly less. I also have had a condition called reactive arthritis since my twenties (I’m now in my fifties) causing pain in my spine and ribs. This, too, with Earthing, has been much improved in terms of pain and flexibility of my spine. Because of the reduced pain, I sleep better too.
“When I’m treating clients, I’ve use conductive patches on them, either placing them on areas of pain and discomfort, or at the K1 point of the feet, or the palms of the hands. I noticed that when my clients are grounded, about 20 minutes into the session, their tissue seems to release more easily, and I am able to work more deeply. My clients tell me they experience another ‘layer’ of relaxation and release. I may also ground myself at times when I’m treating clients, usually by attaching a patch to my back and ‘hooking up’ with a long wire. It allows me to move around the massage table and still receive the benefits of Earthing.
• Katherine Van Hatten, a now retired massage and acupressure therapist in Northern California, worked actively into her seventies, the last eight or so years grounding herself at work and at home. In 2010, she said that “I still work a full day, and the only way I can do that at my age, without going home exhausted, is to stand barefoot on a floor mat that is grounded while I give my massages. If I don’t use it, I can do maybe one or two massages a day. If I work on the pad, I can work a full day, meaning four, five, or even six massages. Moreover, my clients receive the benefit because for the whole hour that they’re on the table I am bringing free electrons to them through the mat, my body, and my hands. So they are grounded as well.
“Ever since I have been working grounded my clients tell me routinely that they experience a higher level of energy afterward for an extended period of time.
“I’m also an acupressure therapist, so between that and massage, my hands and wrists are working hard with a lot of pressure. Until I grounded myself, I quite often experienced fatigue and muscle pain. I feel that the regeneration from sleeping grounded and also working while standing on a grounded floor mat is really giving me extra years to work.
“In my profession, there’s a tremendous amount of burnout because the work is very physical. You use a lot of energy. I’ve been at this for twenty-four years, and even if I go home tired now, I go to bed, sleep grounded and the next day I’m ready to go.”
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From these comments, and other feedback we have received, Earthing appears to be a simple concept that can significantly preserve the energy and health of massage therapists and promote career longevity. It does so in a variety of ways:
Reduces fatigue, increases stamina
Reduces inflammation and injury
Protects the health of the therapist
Permits more massages to be done, if desired, without expected fatigue
During treatment, practitioners have various grounding options, including conductive Earthing mats on the floor while working barefoot, or Earthing bands or patches applied either to themselves or to their clients.
However, the simplest option may be a conductive mat placed on the massage table beneath the bottom sheet that the client lies on. Perspiration from the client’s body immediately creates a conductive channel of moisture through the sheet to the mat. The client is thus grounded to the Earth, and with bare skin contact with the client, the therapist becomes grounded.
Both feel the difference. Both benefit.
Hopefully, massage schools will soon learn the benefits of Earthing and introduce Earthing into their teaching programs as a way to improve the health and career longevity of their students.