Ep 161 – Maintaining Optimal Massage Health with Marisa Savino

Massage therapist massaging a client's thigh.

How do personal training and massage therapy complement each other? Marisa Savino joins the podcast to discuss how to maintain optimal massage health by improving strength and agility, preventing long-term burnout, how to set a routine (and stick to it), and how nutrition plays a role in your daily massage practice.

Author Images: 
Marisa Savino, personal trainer and massage therapist.
Author Bio: 

Marisa Savino is a New Jersey-based fitness professional with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and psychology. Besides being a personal trainer, she is a licensed massage therapist. Being a professional in both training and massage, Marisa can meet a client’s needs on many levels. Combining the knowledge of these two disciplines allows her to help prevent injuries and be better able to address the whole health of a client. 

Marisa’s purpose is to inspire, encourage, and educate others on how to achieve their fitness goals and live life while continuing to maintain balance on their route of healthy living. Learn more about Marisa at msfitriss.com and follow her on Instagram @ms.fitriss.

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Anatomy Trains is a global leader in online anatomy education and also provides in-classroom certification programs for structural integration in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, and China, as well as fresh-tissue cadaver dissection labs and weekend courses. The work of Anatomy Trains originated with founder Tom Myers, who mapped the human body into 13 myofascial meridians in his original book, currently in its fourth edition and translated into 12 languages. The principles of Anatomy Trains are used by osteopaths, physical therapists, bodyworkers, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, and other body-minded manual therapists and movement professionals. Anatomy Trains inspires these practitioners to work with holistic anatomy in treating system-wide patterns to provide improved client outcomes in terms of structure and function.  

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Founded by a massage therapist for massage therapists, the Elements Massage® brand is a network of independently owned and operated studios dedicated to changing lives—including yours! The Elements Massage brand believes massage therapists deserve a supportive team, business and marketing resources, and the chance to learn as much as they want, so many Elements Massage studios offer and reimburse continuing education on an ongoing basis. It’s no surprise Elements Massage therapist and client satisfaction leads the industry. That’s because from day one, the brand has kept an unmatched commitment to deliver the best therapeutic massage experiences possible for both clients and massage therapists. Elements Massage studios expects the best. So should you. If this sounds like a fit, reach out. Studios are hiring! Visit ElementsMassage.com/ABMP for more information.

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Full Transcript: 

0:00:00.1 Kristin Coverly: The Elements Massage brand believes massage therapists deserve a supportive team, business and marketing resources, linens, lotions, and the chance to learn as much as they want. So many Elements Massage studios offer continuing education too. What's better they're hiring. To get your foot in the door, let them know we sent you by visiting elementsmassage.com/abmp. That's elementsmassage.com/abmp.

0:00:33.6 KC: As a massage therapist, you know that truly the world's most beautiful machine is in your hands. You help relieve the pain and pressures that hold your clients back from fully enjoying life. The CBD Clinic massage collection uses ingredients from nature to deliver strong, effective temporary pain relief with aromatic botanicals and natural emollients like CBD. Our tiered pain products let you personalize your massage to meet each client's needs. Be your clients hero by giving them the massage treatment of their dreams with CBD Clinic. Learn more at cbdclinic.co.

[music]

0:01:25.5 Darren Buford: I'm Darren Buford.

0:01:26.3 KC: And I'm Kristin Coverly.

0:01:28.2 DB: And welcome to The ABMP Podcast, a podcast where we speak with a massage and bodywork profession. Kristin, what special event do we have coming up?

0:01:35.3 KC: Darren and listeners, I am really excited to let you know that the ABMP CE Summit is coming on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 26th and 27th. It's an online conference with 22 presenters, 6 CE hours. Day one focuses on upper body tools and techniques, and day two on lower body. The event is free for ABMP members and just $99 for non-members. Learn more and register at abmp.com/summit.

0:02:02.4 DB: Our guest today is Marisa Savino. Marisa is a New Jersey based fitness professional with a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and Psychology. Besides being a personal trainer, she is a licensed massage therapist. Being a professional in both training and massage, she can meet a client's needs on a new level. Combining the knowledge necessary for the two disciplines allows her to help prevent injuries and better able to address the whole health of a client. For more information about Marisa, visit msfitriss.com. Hello Marisa and hello, Kristin.

0:02:35.5 Marisa Savino: Hello. Hi, Darren. Hi, Kristin.

0:02:38.4 KC: Hi and welcome. We're so excited to have you here. And looking forward to our conversation.

0:02:43.0 MS: Yes, thank you.

0:02:46.0 KC: Let's start by learning a little bit more about you and your background. Why did you decide to study exercise and fitness and make that a primary aspect of your life?

0:02:54.2 MS: Yeah, so early on during my teenage years, that's when I truly discovered that I was really passionate towards fitness. Because one of my very first jobs was working in a commercial gym. And it was local, so it was convenient when I didn't drive yet... So 15, 16, I started working at the gym. And from there, that's when I personally started following an exercise program. So I hired my very own coach, and that's when I started to follow a program. From there, because I worked with other like-minded individuals, we signed up for our very first competition, which now they have all those Spartan races and the Tough Mudders. But ours was the Tough Mudder.

0:03:35.5 MS: So this was back... Oooh, like 2016. So I'm 28. So this was one of the first things that I ever did to truly be involved in fitness. So from there, I completely fell in love with it, because I was actually going into the gym and training with a purpose. So I wasn't just showing up at the gym, and working out. I was actually going in there, meeting co-workers... Bright early in the morning, and we had a goal to focus on. So really from there, that was where I truly started to find my passion.

0:04:08.4 DB: Wow, a Tough Mudder. That is for real. I have done a much lesser version of that and that was plenty, so I'm very impressed. That's really cool.

0:04:17.4 MS: Yeah, I guess that's the first thing I do... I have to... Go hard or go home, right?

0:04:21.4 DB: [chuckle] That's right. So Marisa, what then brought to massage therapy?

0:04:25.1 MS: Yeah, so massage. Yeah, so that's a huge jump. So after the Tough Mudder, I got into more with the body building industry, and that's really where I was more committed. I fell in love with the structure of it all. And from there I was still... I was still in high school. So from then, that's when I was still scoping around to see exactly where I was gonna go to college. And at the time, my body building coach, he was a licensed massage therapist himself.

0:04:51.3 MS: So when I would meet with my coach at the end of our training sessions, he would perform stretching... And at the time, I didn't even know the different massage modalities. One specifically was a Tai massage and he was stretching me. And you know what? I was like, "This is neat." I not only wanted him to massage, and work on me, but I was always asking more questions on, how do you do that? Show me how to do that, right? So I have my degree in Exercise Science as mentioned, but then after I graduated, once I was a graduate, I started training. But I don't think I was done with school yet. So I was like, "How am I gonna... How can I implement to be a better trainer?" And that's when I visited a massage institution and I signed up. And then from there, 11 months, 12 months in, I was doing full-time training part-time massage school. And then I became a licensed massage therapist.

0:05:44.2 KC: That's great. I love that you're able to do both at the same time too. Usually it's the opposite. Massage therapists graduate and then they do massage part-time while they're learning something else. So it's fun to hear...

0:05:56.3 MS: Oh, okay... Yeah.

0:05:57.9 KC: The other side of the journey. That's great.

0:05:57.9 MS: Yeah.

0:06:00.1 KC: So let's talk a little bit about how your training and your massage therapy practice complement one another. And I'm curious too... With your clients, do they often come to you for multiple modalities or you have a group that comes for massage, and a separate group that comes for training? Or how does that all work together?

0:06:18.3 MS: Very interesting, 'cause I actually have clients ask me that same question too. So I am... I like to say I'm a trainer by AM and I'm a massage therapist by PM... Not literally all the time, but that's kind of how I split up my shift a little bit. And I do. I work with some that are strictly training, some that are massage and some are both. And I don't know if that's more of a personal preference sort of thing where they do wanna keep massage separate, but more so than not, they don't care. They already have my loyalty, whether it's training or massage, and then they wanna cross paths.

0:06:50.5 MS: Usually because what happens is during the massage, I'm doing most of the manipulation. So they may be relaxing, but I don't wanna necessarily always be educating while on the table. So then when we're in our training sessions, that's where I do more of the education parts on how they can do better and do things at home in between their massages to work on, flexibility, mobility, etcetera.

0:07:16.4 DB: So Marisa, massage can be really demanding as a profession. Can you give our listeners some advice about exercises for maintaining optimal massage health? I'm thinking here, with massage specifically like strength, agility... Anything to prevent long-term burnout.

0:07:33.2 MS: Yeah, that's great, 'cause I have to always reassure that I'm doing that same for myself... And other therapists ask me why... The ones that I work with, they say, "How do you work out? How do you do all the massages?" So first of all, I have to make sure that I am making my body a priority because if I don't keep up with my own body works, then I won't be able to perform that with my clients. So first, before even getting into the whole exercise spectrum, I make sure that I have massages scheduled for myself. And that has been from the very beginning, bi-weekly. And I don't know what I would do without my therapist. So sometimes I do bop around therapist just so I can remain consistent with a massage.

0:08:20.4 MS: As far as exercises go, not every therapist is gonna be following an exercise program. So if they were to do anything, I highly would suggest to focus on mobility, which you can do that just with body weight exercises, or if you have one of those resistant bands at home. And you really wanna be focusing on specifically shoulder mobility, huge... So working scapula motion, retracting, keeping the chest open... 'Cause our shoulders often enough, no matter what your career is... Our postures always roll forward throughout the day. So we gotta make sure that our chest is opened up, we do some chest exercises as well to strengthen that. But also core... Core strengthening... So that leads to the next.

0:09:03.4 MS: Core strengthening, because what happens is, if your core is not strengthened, your back's gonna take a toll on you, and then you're gonna have back... Which the back... What does that lead to? We gotta make sure also that our table height... Being a massage therapist, the table height. So it goes into body mechanics... So yeah, exercises are great, but if you don't have your body mechanics or your table height set, the exercises aren't gonna do anything... Not much for you. You gotta make sure that everything is properly. So without having a whole complete burnout, make sure you put your body priority first. So yes, table heights, good, you got your own massages body works on and focus on mobility. Mobility, flexibility, and put some time aside to do your own stretching.

0:09:50.2 KC: And Marisa, would you recommend that massage therapists do something daily towards that? Or how many times a week would you recommend some of that stretching and strength training?

0:09:57.7 MS: Love that. Because... Yes. And I call it a nightly ritual. So I have morning rituals and I have evening rituals. And it doesn't have to be 30 minutes, it does not have to be an hour. Because when that... When someone tells us to do something for an hour, it only happens once a week. So you know, I set a timer, 10 minutes. That's all. During that 10 minutes, I am doing some sort of stretching every single day... I give myself a body scan and I'm like, "Okay, well, I ran the other day, and my calves hurt" Alright, today I'm focusing on calves. Maybe I had a bunch of massages today, so now my fore arms need some vibration therapy techniques or maybe they need ice...

0:10:35.4 MS: So even ice is part of my 10-minute nightly ritual. Right before bed, take 10 minutes out, set a timer so you don't get distracted and focus every single night, during a nightly ritual... 10 minutes.

0:10:48.0 KC: I love that. And that leads into sort of a bigger question... We're already getting snowfall here in the Colorado mountains, which means holiday season is coming and right around the corner.

0:10:58.8 MS: Yes, it is.

0:11:00.3 KC: Right. Which means that New Year's Resolutions are right around the corner. And oftentimes we have the best intentions and that yet they seem to get pushed aside as the days go on. So what tips do you have for how people can set a routine and stick with it? What's the secret?

0:11:14.4 MS: The secret is, I have a planner for seven years. That's the secret. Keep a planner. Okay. And do not plan out a month out, but do not plan a day out. Plan week by week. As a massage therapists, we should often already have a week at a glance viewed. So what's coming up? So my advice is there's four Sundays in a month, usually every Sunday, I plan out for the upcoming week. Okay, so that even includes the work outs, and the massage clients. So set a schedule and time block. So everybody says I need to focus on time management, stress management. What they need to know is how to time block their day.

0:11:55.7 DB: Let's take a short break to hear a word from our sponsors. Anatomy Trains is delighted to announce a brand new dissection live stream specialty class on September 18th. LumboPelvic Stability, a one-day layered dissection with Anatomy Trains, author Tom Myers and master dissector Todd Garcia. The early bird price of $150, is held until September 10th. After September 10th, the price is $250. Come see the body's actual core for yourself. This course will be provided over Zoom webinar with multiple camera views, live chat, and Q&A. Visit anatomytrains.com to sign up. Now, let's get back to the podcast. Now, Marisa I'm new to training. The gym seems so intimidating. How do I get past that hurdle?

0:12:43.0 MS: Yeah, gym intimidation. It's a thing. And myself included. Right. Everybody's all looking around. But you know what, if I have to say one thing, all you have to remember is they're there too. So everybody's looking at each other... Who cares what they're thinking. If anything, nowadays, they're probably looking at what type of shoes that you have, and... They're probably wondering where you got them 'cause they want them...

0:13:07.1 MS: So the biggest thing is, take your time, if you're new in the gym and read... Look at the equipment and read... So when I'm doing some traveling and I see new equipment, I'm a trainer and I still need to go over and look to see what type of piece of equipment this is. Take your time. Who cares if somebody's looking at you. You wanna be making sure that you're doing it properly, not only because you wanna do the proper form, but you don't wanna get injured along the way either. So you showed up for yourself at the end of the day, so go in there enjoy the time, release those endorphins, and just really focus on yourself.

0:13:42.9 DB: Let me ask you a follow-up question there. How can I... What kind of equipment would I need at home if I wanted to maintain a workout schedule or a routine at home? What's the most basic equipment that I should get?

0:13:55.3 MS: So during the shut down, sometimes I went fully Zoom. So I was doing all my training at home. And it is unbelievable how much you can do just with your body weight. It is crazy. So from the very beginning, all you need is your body weight. You don't even need a mat if you have... But people use things like chairs, they'll use a couch. But if you're looking for equipment, a nice set of lighter dumbbells and a nice set of heavier dumbbells will be just fine. Resistant bands are great, especially back to really working on the mobility. But also in the beginning phases of strengthening, you don't always need a pair of dumbbells. Use your body weight and go after those bands.

0:14:35.5 DB: That's great advice. Let me also jump in because I know somebody is gonna be curious about how many reps or sets should I be doing? Again, I'm just starting out, but I'm gonna focus on the shoulder and I'm gonna focus on my mobility. How many reps and sets should I do?

0:14:48.3 MS: I would aim for more of a higher volume lighter weight. So we'll aim for... The reps will be 12 to 15 range, and the sets will be two to three. Believe it or not, beginners are more around the two and more intermediates, three, advanced can be four to five. But really, always remember like in most things, it's gonna be quality over quantity. So especially when it comes to core exercises, you really wanna focus on doing every single one the right way. So I'd rather you do five... I'm just gonna say basic crunches... Five crunches over 50 crunches that you're using your neck... Okay. So quality over quantity, always.

0:15:31.4 DB: So Marisa, you're also a nutritionist. Can you give practitioners ideas on what optimal eating looks like?

0:15:38.2 MS: Yes. So nutrition... I like brighten up about it because, nutrition is huge. It is a huge component... And it is very important no matter what career path you have chosen. Food is used as fuel. So you need to make sure that you're eating all throughout the day. The biggest thing I would suggest is starting off your day with a big breakfast because we never know how our day is gonna go...

0:16:03.0 MS: So talking as a massage therapists sometimes we can run over an appointment, or an appointment runs... And comes early. And then there you go five hours, go by and we didn't even get any food. So the first thing is make sure you start your day with a big nutrient balanced breakfast of all three micronutrients... The protein, the carbs and the fats.

0:16:25.2 DB: I'm super curious. What do you eat for breakfast?

0:16:28.4 MS: Always eggs. And I say that so quick because it is always eggs. I eat one whole egg and a half a cup of egg whites, and then I have some grain and some small fats on the side. So for a quick pro-tip, I'm gonna throw in there... What your fats should look like is about the size of your thumb. So give yourself a thumbs up, envision, that's what your nut butter should look like, or any oils that you may use. So always fats, carbs and protein. So I'll have a slice of toast, sour dough bread... It's good for your gut... Fermented. I'll have a side of oatmeal, and that's usually my go-to. Eggs omelette, a side of toast, peanut butter.

0:17:06.9 KC: Okay, another question for you. Are you pro-snacking throughout the day or anti-snacking? And if you're pro-snacking and we're having... We're talking to massage therapists who are eating little bits between clients. What do you recommend?

0:17:18.3 MS: Yes, definitely pro as it's a grazing throughout the day. Absolutely. Anything with protein. So the word protein comes out of the mouth all day long, whether you work out or not. We need protein. So protein bars, and there's an abundance of them. It's like a candy shop. But protein bars, protein shakes, those are excellent sources, obviously. 'Cause then it's balanced. They're usually calorically dense, which means a little higher in calories, and we need those calories to keep us fueling throughout the day. One thing I would say is stay away from more of the picky things like veggies... We go and we think, "Oh, veggies are healthy. I'm gonna bring a bag of veggies in between clients." They take forever to eat and they're just empty calories... And they're finger food... So we wanna stay away more from the finger food.

0:18:10.4 MS: So I would suggest protein bars, protein shake, yogurt... But not only a yogurt... I see so many therapists eating yogurt. Put in protein powder or put almonds in there, something. Always have almonds. Almonds are a great source. You can keep them in the car all year long. Unlike protein bars, they can melt in the summer. So I always suggest, nuts, mixed nuts, almonds always on hand is the best bet. A good piece of fruit, whether that's an orange, apple, you can... You can cut it up. You don't even have to cut it up. But save the grapes for another time... They're not filled with the right proper calories that we need to fuel us in between our sessions.

0:18:49.4 DB: I know, people may be curious and there may be some automatic go-tos that people can think of like chips and cookies, but are there any other foods that are... We should not be eating throughout the day?

0:19:00.7 MS: Yeah, I would say sandwiches. And I say that very quickly, because sandwiches are... The number one of diabetes... They're just filled with processed garbage and we're just always leaning toward the turkey meats, the cold cuts, loaded with the wrong salt. And honestly, you're just gonna get that crash. So again, hard bold eggs are another great idea, I just thought of. Even though I start my day with eggs, so I usually don't have the hard boiled eggs. But most people rather start with a shake, maybe they're rushing, they're on the go. So pack hard boiled eggs, but back to staying away from things, goes back to candy, the chips, cheap convenient things. Again, quality, that's not quality. So... That is not the proper fuel that we need to continue to have the proper energy throughout our day.

0:19:52.4 DB: And Marisa, do you recommend supplements? And if so, which kind?

0:19:56.6 MS: Yeah, supplements. That's a whole another podcast. But supplements... Oh man. I remember college... I would have a supplement stack... I'd be collecting them like it was collectible items. But protein powder is a supplement because... Well, the first rule is food first, then supplements. Always food first. Okay. Supplementation, I mean, a multi-vitamin is a supplement... So a multivitamin. But protein powder that also includes a supplement... Fish oil, magnesium. I do all that, to be honest.

0:20:29.2 MS: Right now, you'll hear a lot of individuals saying, "Make sure to have zinc, and vitamin C," and everything. I don't necessarily supplement with zinc or vitamin C pills because I know every day part of my nutrition regimen, I'm getting in the proper foods for that. For example, vitamin C is, kiwis, and oranges. Zinc is my red meat. So I'm having those things every day.

0:20:52.3 KC: It's so exciting. And we could have a whole other podcast... [0:20:55.9] ____ With you about all these topics. And we're getting excited talking to you. And I'm sure listeners are getting excited, listening to you talk about not only personal training, but also nutrition. And so for massage therapists and body workers who are getting excited and wondering about how they might add those two modalities to their practice as well. Can you tell us a little bit more about what the education and training is like for each of them?

0:21:21.4 MS: Yes, so as we know, I have a degree in Exercise Science. At the end of having a degree, you need to get a certification as far as personal training goes. So some good personal training certifications are NASM, NSCA, ISSA. Some of these certifications can be done right online, especially being 2021, you could take them right online. So being a massage therapist, if that is what you are and you would like to seek personal training, I would then suggest looking up one of those certifications that you could do right online.

0:21:52.9 MS: Some of them are even at your own pace, and then you can go and sit for the exam. As far as nutrition goes, if you have not much education behind you and you are still young, my advice for you is highly recommend getting a nutrition degree at a college and going after the path that that school has to become a dietician. Dietician is the top notch. You are not only the best of the best, but you are really the top of the line. You're not just a nutritionist or a health coach, you are a dietician, so you can help mostly everybody. Where myself, I'm a nutritionist, I have to be careful and I have to understand when it's outside my scope. So I do refer out when that time comes. I am a nutritionist, and I was able to get my certification through my personal training certification, because just like the Massage Body Works has CEUs, so does the training field.

0:22:52.2 MS: So one of the CEUs, for my training certification was a nutrition certification. So that is how I am a personal trainer, nutritionist and a massage therapist.

0:23:05.3 DB: Marisa, there are so many things here we could have dived in. But today was our welcome to Marisa, so we could see all that you do. I'm sure we can dive in deeper in some future conversations. I wanna thank our guest today, Marisa Savino. To find out more information about Marisa, visit msfitriss.com. Thanks, Marisa, and thanks, Kristin.

0:23:23.8 MS: Thank you.

0:23:24.1 KC: Marisa, thanks so much for sharing all those great tips to keep us as massage and body workers healthy so we can continue to help our clients. We appreciate it.

0:23:32.6 MS: Thank you for having me.

0:23:39.5 KC: Members are loving ABMP Five-Minute Muscles and ABMP Pocket Pathology. Two quick reference web apps included with ABMP membership. ABMP Five-Minute Muscles delivers muscle specific palpation and technique videos, plus origins, insertions and actions for the 83 muscles most commonly addressed by body workers. ABMP Pocket Pathology created in conjunction with Ruth Werner, puts key information for nearly 200 common pathologies at your fingertips, and provides the knowledge you need to help you make informed treatment decisions. Start learning today. ABMP, members log in at abmp.com, and look for the links in the featured benefits section of your member home page. Not a member? Learn about these exciting member benefits at abmp.com/more.

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