Do Your Hands Get Tired? Massage FAQs

Photo by Jason Emile Johnson

Photo by Jason Emile Johnson


Do massage therapists’ hands get tired?

The short answer is no. An experienced massage therapist knows to use the right tool for the job, and that means that very little hand strength actually goes into a professional massage. While your massage therapist is making contact with her hands, force applied actually comes from proper body mechanics and leverage (some techniques use forearms, elbows, and even feet—see Ashiatsu!). So, rather than gripping or kneading your tissue with her hand strength, she will lean into each movement with some (or most) of her body weight.

A therapist who is standing on the floor (very common in our space/time continuum) will, at best, be able to leverage about 50 percent of her body weight to apply force during a massage. We know. We’ve measured.

When you divide that force by the surface area of contact, you have pressure. For instance, when standing on the floor, I can apply 55 pounds of pressure per square inch. If I am practicing Ashiatsu, I am able to leverage about twice that because I am standing above the client with no weight on the floor. No matter how strong a therapist is, she cannot apply more than her own body weight. While someone might be able to lift 200 pounds, that does not increase her ability to press into a client laying on a table.

To those who request a “very strong therapist,” I’d argue that you need to relax and find a very skilled therapist. Just like a martial artist, a massage therapist who knows where to apply pressure is more effective than one who simply uses brute force. While perception does impact the experience, if you are willing to find a skilled therapist of any size/gender/description, you will likely have good results. If you believe strongly that you need a giant MT, that will probably impact your experience, and perhaps you should go ahead and find someone to pummel you.

In the end, skilled massage therapists’ hands do not get tired because we know what we are doing. Massage is a physically and mentally taxing profession; it requires strength and concentration. So, it can be tiring, but not for our hands.