Back in the saddle after a break

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I’m back! After four months of rehabilitation, four months away from the massage table, I was given the ‘all clear’ by my Physiotherapist last week. I was, and still am, thrilled at the news. Massage really is a cornerstone of my life, so much more than just a job. I missed it immensely and without it I felt imbalanced, wonky, like a building on rocky foundations.

This four month break has taught me so much, about myself, about my job and the unique space it holds in my life, about the people I surround myself with. In this post I’d like to share some of that with you, starting with my relationship with massage.

Before I got the all clear I decided to test the water by offering some of my friends a shorter, more informal treatment. This would help me to see what my injured arm could and couldn’t withstand in an environment where I knew I could be honest and stop if I needed to.
Stepping back into the therapeutic space and my role as Massage Therapist was a revelation; I felt I’d been hit by lightning. When I first laid my hands on a friend, before I had even removed the drape, I said to myself, “Wow, this is so special!”

I was overwhelmed by how right it felt, how much I had missed sharing that space with people, how much I need it in my life. I felt a physical rush of energy and my eyes filled with tears. I was back where I belonged, just like coming home after a long trip away. Breaking my wrist has been many blessings in disguise but allowing me to fall in love with my vocation again is perhaps the biggest, most well disguised blessing of all. I am so excited about the road ahead, about returning to my practice with a renewed love and passion for what I do. Who knew a bike accident could be such a gift?

All that said my body is still recovering and I need to respect that so I’m doing a phased return – it will be a little while yet until I’m working the hours I worked before. As a part of this gradual reintroduction my Physiotherapist suggested treating only certain people, those that I knew would be less strenuous for me and my arm. This brought to light another lesson learned, well, reminded of anyway; partnership and collaboration are crucial to the way I work.

When someone comes to me for a treatment we decide together what that treatment will entail. I can’t predict what a client will bring with them through the door and even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to say for certain how their treatment would go because we reach that decision mutually. A poignant and timely reminder then that the best massage comes from working in the moment and reacting to the ‘now’ mindfully and with compassion.

And of course that doesn’t just apply to massage. Another important lesson I’ve learned is the value of self-care. My hands and arms are my ‘tools’. I need them to do a job that I love, that is my passion. I will now be more mindful of this and ensure that, whether through meditation, exercise or whatever feels right for me at the time, I look after myself and my tools. I ask you to consider doing the same, whatever your tools may be.

A tool doesn’t have to be something as obvious as a massage therapist’s hands, it can be anything you rely on to do what you need to do each day. What steps do you take to ensure your own self-care? Are you getting enough sleep? Eating well? Do you allow yourself to ‘switch off’ and take stock of how you’re really feeling? As much as we all forget it at times, we need to look after ourselves, take care as we go about our business. Although a blessing in so many ways I was reminded of this the hard way. I wish you a more straightforward path to that realisation.

Last but far from least is the most humbling lesson of all. I am blessed to be surrounded by the unconditional love, support and loyalty of so many wonderful people. My life is enriched by a large and compassionate network of human beings, all of whom helped me throughout my rehabilitation and gave me strength when I needed it most. My family, my friends, my colleagues and my clients all kept me afloat in one way or another. I am forever grateful and owe a huge part of my recovery to them.

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