Being a Licensed Massage Therapist is so much more than working at a spa, office, or having your own clinic. It’s also not just seeing countless amounts of people, and giving them “fluff and buff” or Deep Tissue massages. The rewards we receive can come once a week, once a day, or maybe even from every massage. Most of the rewards are not something that is evident to the average person, as it matters not how big or small the reward is. As I look back over my 4 years of being a Licensed Massage Therapist, and 3 years of massaging as a Chiropractor’s Assistant, I see that the real reward is how we make a difference in people’s lives.
I love it when you see the simple smile, as people relax, or knowing people feel comfortable to open up and share about their lives. I get to know people in a deeper sense and see their strength and perseverance. One such person, is a middle aged man who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis—ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His doctors said he had the slowest progression of the disease that they had seen, but he still had a progressive deterioration. Sometimes I would massage him once a week, and other times it would be longer in between. On the first hand, I watched his body fall apart. It was heartbreaking. However, this man always had a smile on his face and was always cheerful. He was truly an inspiration. He would come in and say how much the massages helped keep his range of motion for longer periods of time and that it kept him in good spirits. In this case, the reward was not only seeing how he improved from massage, but watching him take on this horrific disease with such a great attitude.
Another bittersweet experience I have had was working on an elderly woman with end-stage cancer. For several months I massaged her once a week and then it slowed down toward the end of her life. She had metastasizing bone cancer in her left shoulder blade, and was tender to the touch all over, so I was only able to lightly massage her right forearm and hand and both lower legs and feet. She was a very grouchy woman, and always seemed hesitant and unhappy to see me. She never even remembered my real name. Every time while massaging this woman, about half way through, her demeanor changed. You could almost see the negative emotion melt off of her, and she would relax. When I would walk to her room, parts of me wanted to turn back and spend my time massaging somebody more cheerful, but when I went, I always left with a smile on my face. I know she was not the easiest person to deal with, but knowing I could help her escape “reality”, even if just for a few minutes, was worth it, and most definitely rewarding.
In Daily Life
Some happier rewards are when we see people improve in their day-to-day lives with increased flexibility or getting through their day with decreased to no pain. It is great seeing people who have been in minor to major motor vehicle accidents get their lives back through rehabilitative massage. Also, knowing people can relax with ease to be able to sleep better at night.
Over the years, I have loved working on athletes as well. I love seeing their determination to do, or try anything, just to get back into the game, race, or the many other athletic endeavors they may be in to. The smile on their face when they realize they can take longer strides again, can play without pain, or have the strength and ability to compete—they are all rewarding!
The Rewards Over Time
As Massage Therapists, we may work on a person every week for weeks or months. Sometimes we do not see any big improvements at one time, but when we look back over the time spent, we see how far they have come. It is truly rewarding getting to be a part of somebody’s rehabilitation and seeing the joy on their face when they show us what they can do again.