Treat your job like a sport (train for it!)

If my job were a sport, how should I train for it? What exercises, diet, and daily regimen would help me perform at my peak? My jobs currently include massage, parenting, and blogging. I’ll lead by example to show you how you could apply this concept to your job(s).

Massage is physically demanding. What do I need?

  1. Physical strength: Early in massage school I developed adequate hand strength. Over the years I’ve realized the critical importance of core abdominal strength to support my back as I lean over clients day in and day out.
  2. Flexibility: Strength without flexibility leads to injury. Personally I find yoga and Pilates a great match to keep me aware of how much I need more flexibility.
  3. Stamina: Sleep is key; so is nutrition. Sometimes I work a split day with both morning & evening appointments. To keep my stamina up, I need good fuel in the form of healthy meals and snacks.
  4. Massage: You’ll often hear me say I feel I should be somehow magically exempt from muscle tension, but it’s just not true. So, I take my turn laying on the table too. When my shoulders and neck get all knotted up I am more likely to strain those muscles and lose the tension battle.


  1. Strength (again): Although I decline most requests to carry my son these days, parenting young children often involves lots of bending and lifting (as well as crawling and generally acting like a fool!?!). Developing strong abdominal strength is key in healthy bending, twisting & lifting. Imagine an obstacle course where you navigate challenges swinging an infant car seat and you’ll see why a strong core is key.
  2. Stamina: Again, healthy fuel administered throughout the day goes a long way toward doing my job well. As someone with a high metabolism, everyone suffers when I get hungry.
  3. Quick & Quality Decision-making: Many sports depend on this & parenting is no different. I think there’s a great link to sleep here. Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! Every parent I know could benefit from more sleep. Keeping a sleep routine is a great gift you can give your brain – and your family.
  4. Half-time/the off-season: Just as in sports, we need breaks from the action. That might be 10 minutes of reading time for mommy or having a beer after the kids are in bed. Taking breaks allows you to recover from the never-ending job of parenting.
  5. Cardio: I’d like those spontaneous races with my 7-year-old to be fun, not humiliating. Plus heart disease runs in my family. I’d like to be a parent a long time, so I need to keep my ticker working well.


  1. Good Equipment: In athletics this might be the right shoes, ball or wheels. For computer work, this usually translates to ergonomics. When I fudge on ergonomics, I feel it right where you feel it – neck & shoulders. So I try to keep myself honest and check in with my body.
  2. Time clock: Most sports are ruled by some sort of time-keeping. If I sit and type for hours, my wrists ache and burn a bit. That’s familiar from days as a typist. When I’ve exceeded my limits, I care for my carpal tunnels by doing some quick soaks in ice water in the sink. I also massage & stretch my forearms where most of the typing muscles reside.

Have I painted a good picture of what I mean? When you view your job as a sport you can think creatively about what you need to perform well. You can acknowledge that your body will do better with certain kinds of support. I’ve only scratched the surface here. For one thing, I’ve only covered physical aspects of my jobs. Does this spark any ideas about your work? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below. Or shoot me an email about your job and I’ll brainstorm what you may need to perform at your peak. Send me a not here: susan (at) susanyoungmassagetherapy (dot) com.

sTre$s! part 3 (or relaxation part 1) Guest post from Dr. Angel Duncan – a de-stress exercise

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to a wonderful friend, Dr. Angel Duncan. She graciously accepted my invitation to write a post for the blog. Without further ado, here’s Angel….

Stress can take quite a toll on our mind and body. The next time you are feeling frazzled and tied into knots, try the following 5 minute release-only relaxation exercise to bring your mind and body back into a state of calm. The release-only relaxation focuses on tension release without having to tighten your muscles. This is easier to practice and takes less time. The more you practice this exercise, the more it will become second nature. You might want to read through the following script at least once before beginning.

Release-only relaxation

Close your eyes and sit in a relaxed position. Breathing through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, take in a breath and hold for a count of 3 and exhale. Breathe with calm, regular breaths and feel how you relax more and more with every breath … Just let go … Relax your forehead … eyebrows. . . eyelids … jaw … tongue and throat … lips … your entire face … Relax your neck … shoulders … arms . . . hands . . . and all the way out to your fingertips… Breathe calmly and regularly… Let the relaxation spread to your stomach. .. waist… and back … Relax the lower part of your body… your behind … thighs … knees … calves … feet … and all the way down to the tips of your toes … Breathe calmly and regularly and feel how you relax more and more with each breath … Take a deep breath and hold it for a couple of seconds … and let the air out slowly … slowly … Notice how you relax more and more.  My breathing is calm and regular.  I am going to count back from 4 to 1.  When I get to 1, I will open my eyes and will feel much more relaxed.  4…3…2…1.

Dr. Duncan is a pre-licensed psychologist with a practice in Pasadena. Her specialties include Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Grief & Loss, and Life transitions. She can be reached at (818) 470-3193.