An MT's Tips for Longevity

Caroline Culbertson, 83, Shares Her Secrets

By Jed Heneberry
[ABMP Member Profile]

A massage therapist on her third career, Caroline Culbertson has worked at the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips, Washington, since 1992. Her clients have included senators, speed skaters, and sumo wrestlers. Even at age 83 and semi-retired, she still shows up for work every other weekend. Here are her five tips for career longevity:

Take care of your body
Every morning, Culbertson goes for a run. Well, almost every morning. “I miss a few here and there,” she confesses. “But I swim on the weekends and bike to local shops.” Culbertson credits her parents with teaching her how to lead a healthy lifestyle. And to keep balance, she allows herself to cheat on healthy food by eating Cheetos—once a year.

Work hard and be dedicated
According to Culbertson, she has not missed a day of work that she has committed to, and her spa manager backs her up. “She’s always there,” says Sara Owen. “She’s dependable, she’s reliable. She loves what she does, she’s good at it, and she loves making people feel better.” Still not impressed? Culbertson’s commute is 145 miles and includes six bus transfers.

Practice awareness
Since Culbertson’s clientele are typically first-time visitors, she tries to make them feel comfortable so they can quickly share their concerns. “I’m not an X-ray machine,” she says. “I need feedback.” To sharpen her perception, she looks at people’s gaits and tries to identify musculoskeletal issues while she is walking around town.

Seek extra training
The first hands-on massage test Culbertson took, she flunked. “I didn’t have enough on-body experience,” she recalls. Since that test, she’s made it a point to study as much as she can, learning deep tissue, lomilomi, reflexology, and more.

Have a passion outside of massage
Culbertson is also a professional artist who has a special love for the environment, and using oil and tempera paints to create images of wildlife has been her creative outlet. “It’s also allowed me to practice a new discipline, to cope with my feelings about global warming, and to keep a sense of humor,” she says.