Are therapists leaving the spa industry because of menopause symptoms?Jun 13, 2022
When Amanda recently signed up to train in our hormonal balancing touch therapies, she had two clear reasons:
- She wanted to create a niche for herself, supporting women through menopause and the side effects of hormonal change.
- At 51, and after 20 years working in the spa industry, she wanted to learn treatments that would not negatively impact her own joints, and that would allow her to work for as long as she chooses.
She said: "I am on a Facebook salon forum and I constantly read these points that therapists make. Many suffer with painful joints and bad backs from years of doing treatments. I have also found that having reached menopause myself, you start to get some joint pain no one tells you it could be menopause related, I found that out myself, but I think it leads to a lot of women leaving the industry, which is a shame as by that stage they have so much knowledge and experience to offer clients as well as new therapists coming into the market."
It is a comment we often hear from therapists, who very much love their jobs but who find that the risk of injury and repetitive strain makes it unsustainable in the long-term. That challenge is compounded when therapists themselves reach perimenopause or menopause, which themselves can have an impact on joints, particularly in the shoulders, wrists and elbows.
As Amanda points out, this is doubly problematic for the spa and wellness industry, which is suffering a skills shortage as it is. It then risks losing valuable members of staff who have a career's worth of knowledge that enhances the client experience and has the potential to nurture new therapists as they come into the workplace. It's a loss both for clients, new therapists and businesses if these valuable people leave the spa industry.
So, can understanding menopause and offering touch treatments that cause less wear and tear improve therapist wellness as well? Can we help improve therapist retention, prolong therapist careers, improve mentoring for new therapists, and better customer experiences for women as they go through menopause, all through more mindful and informed therapist training? That's certainly an opportunity worth investigating.
We need to look after our spa therapists
Spa therapists have a notoriously short working lifespan in comparison to other careers. Figures vary from as short as 18 months up to eight years, and the reasons for that range from the physical to the emotional demand of the job, unsociable hours and other factors.
The pandemic only exacerbated that issue. Lots of therapists are self-employed and did not qualify for furlough during the lockdowns, which led many to seek alternative employment that they have chosen not to return from. In addition, a chronic lack of understanding from the government around our capacity to manage risk around touch therapies meant that the industry closed down for longer than many others.
In the meantime, lots of therapists could not complete their training in touch therapies, so are only just recently getting the hands-on experience they need and deserve to immerse themselves in their careers. In short, the wellness industry needs therapists and it needs to look after them.
A number of therapist trainers have begun to address the issue of therapist wellness and the sustainability of a career, by introducing protocols that are less intense on our joints. However, none (as far as we can see) have specifically considered the challenge presented when therapists themselves go through menopause and the impact that has on their wellbeing.
The impact of menopause on our joints
As with all things menopause related, the impact it has on our joints stems from the hormonal changes. One of the functions of oestrogen is that it protects joints and reduces inflammation, so when levels drop it can increase the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and result in painful joints. Some women experience swelling and pain or a general sense of weakness. It's not ideal for performing full body deep tissue massages.
Hormonal wellness touch therapies and how they work
While our hormonal wellness touch therapies have not specifically been created with therapist hormonal balance in mind, by default, and in line with all Jennifer Young Training touch therapies, they are designed to be gentle for both the recipient and the giver.
There is a small amount of pressure involved, using the thumbs with acupressure points, however it’s not extensive. Therapies combine touch, acupressure and aromatherapy to support the hormonal wellness and the circadian rhythm of the client.
In addition, they are designed to be used with our Menopause Plus specialist skincare line, which has beneficial qualities for menopausal symptoms, particularly pertaining to the phytohormones (plant hormones) including naturally occurring oestrogens.
The nature of our careers as therapists is that there is a physical and emotional demand when it comes to providing spa treatments. We believe that means that both the therapist's wellbeing and the client's wellbeing need to be taken into consideration.
Menopausal women have often suffered from a certain lack of visibility, and therapists of all ages have not always been given the support they deserve. We believe that support lies in being informed, having the training to do your job well and deliver the best results for your client, but also to safeguard your own welfare. That applies whether it concerns cross infection control, feeling that you have the knowledge that you need to adapt treatments to your client's wellbeing needs, or having the information required so that either physically or mentally you yourself are not put in harm's way.