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I don’t have to tell you that Massage Therapy is an extremely physical job. I know most Massage Therapists look for ways to work smarter instead of working harder. This is an awesome idea because it means better results for your client and less pain and strain on you. One of the best ways to reduce strain is to use tools. These 6 tools are worth the investment to add into your practice.


Cupping is a great modality that helps reduce pain, increase range of motion, decrease inflammation and help with myofascial restrictions. Cupping is great because it can get great results in a shortened amount of time. Cups can be used either statically, meaning stay in one place, or they can be use to massage with in place of the therapists hands. The additional bonus with cupping is that cups are relatively inexpensive and can be added a little at a time.

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Hot Stone

The therapeutic benefits of heat to the body is well known. Heat can help relax the body, muscles and nervous system. Hot stones can be used statically on touch spots to decrease muscle guarding before other technique or can be massaged with to combine the heat and weight to create an incredibly relaxing massage. Hot Stones’ have come a long way recently. Waterless Hot Stone systems take up less room, heat up quickly (like 5 minutes to 130 F) and are easier to clean up. I recently ordered an ELO Hot Stone system and I am so excited to incorporate this waterless system into my practice.

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Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

IASTM  is a really fancy name for scraping. While this is not a modality that I currently practice yet, it is one I plan on adding soon. Different names for IASTM include gua sha, Graston, Fascia Blaster, Rock Blades, Scraping and the list goes on and on. IASTM is shown to help recruit fibroblasts, realign collagen and elastin fibers all to decrease pain, increase range of motion and speed up recovery. The cost of both the education and the tools varies widely. Just about anything with a flat edge can be used – from a tong gung/ soup spoon, stone gua sha tools, to specialized polycarbonate or metal blades. From talking to other therapists, investing in Graston blades and education is well worth the investment.

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The physiokey is an elctro-bio-feedback device. “Physiokey uses high-amplitude, high-density feedback controlled pulse stimulation to the skin activating the body’s natural pain relieving and self-regulation mechanisms.” (Physiokey website). This hand held device talks to the nervous system in its own language – electricity. I’ve had this device used on me many times and have noticed huge improvements in treatment as well as longer lasting results. While this device has a bit of a higher price tag – its results and ease of use make it well worth it.


“Shockwave technology delivers strong energy pulses that are applied to the affected area for short periods of time. This stimulates cells in the body that are responsible for bone and connective tissue healing…Shockwave therapy accelerates the healing process in the body by stimulating the metabolism and enhancing blood circulation to regenerate damaged tissue.” (Shockwave Website)  Shockwave therapy produces an acoustic pressure wave that if effective on conditions such as plantar fasciitis, bursitis, scar tissue, calcific tendinitis of the rotator cuff, tennis elbow and much more. While it has a high price tag, you can charge accordingly as well as see more clients in a day as it is not physically demanding on the practitioner and treatments are shorter in length.


Cold Laser

Cold Laser or low-level lasers utilize the emissions of light produced by red and infrared superluminais and laser diodes to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions. Colder laser machines are designed to deliver precise dosages of photon particles to effectively treat pain, inflammation and decrease healing times. This is a great option to add to your practice if you are looking for a treatment option that you can run more than one treatment room at one time. While it does have a high price tag, being able to treat a wide range of pathologies, with short treatment times and very little to no physical exertion on the therapists part makes cold lasers an excellent tool.

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Adding tools that reduce the physical strain on your body is an amazing way to increase your career span, increase your earning potential and also get better results for your clients. If your plan is to stay in massage therapy as a long-term career – you should make plans to start incorporating tools into your practice sooner rather than later.

Heather Kew, RMT

Heather Kew is a Massage Therapist and Medical Aesthetician with more than 15 years experience. When not in her practice with her patients, Heather teaches other health professionals how to advance their practices with advanced techniques.

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