Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2018

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CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education 6 Ways to Bolster on a Budget By Cindy Williams While massage therapists learn in school to use a bolster to support below the knees in supine position, under the ankles in prone position, and between the knees and ankles in side-lying position, there are other simple and effective ways to take your bolstering skills and your client's comfort to the next level. Clearly, there is sometimes a need for extra cushion or extra space. This is evident in the development of some products and optional upgrades to massage tables, such as breast recesses. If you are just starting out or need to stick to a budget, though, these upgrades to your practice can feel out of reach. Here are six ways to bolster your client without breaking your budget. PRONE POSITION 1. Shoulder Bolsters One of the most common causes of pain and suffering in clients is conducting most of life's details in front of them. The amount of time spent on cell phones alone is enough to cause forward- rounded shoulders (protracted scapula), resulting in imbalance of all the muscles that attach to the scapula. Sometimes it is difficult to get overstretched, overloaded muscles to soften because they are locked in a patterned position. In prone position, it can be difficult to encourage the shoulders into retraction. Using two rolled hand towels, place each one under the anterior shoulder slightly medial to the head of the humerus and inferior to the clavicle. This slight lift of the shoulder girdle in prone position will encourage the scapula to retract while gravity pulls the rib cage toward the table. Pectoral muscles will lengthen. Rhomboid muscles will shorten and soften, allowing you to more easily sink into them and relieve stress and strain. The domino effect into connected neck and shoulder muscles creates an overall release of tension. Simple and effective. 2. Breast Bolsters Clients with large breasts often suffer from the same challenges mentioned above, but with exacerbation from the weight of breast tissue. In addition, it can be difficult to get comfortable lying on one's stomach when a significant amount of breast tissue is in the way. Breast recesses are designed to create space in the table that the breasts can fit into. However, you can lift the client off the table with proper bolstering and create the same effect. Use two large, rolled towels and one rolled hand towel. Position the two large towels horizontally across the table so that one towel runs across from shoulder to shoulder just below the clavicles, and the other towel runs across the lower rib cage just beneath the breasts. The hand towel will span vertically between each large towel, running the approximate length of the sternum. If you like, you can also add the shoulder bolsters described earlier as well as the pelvic bolster described below for full lift of the client's torso. 3. Pelvic Bolster Have you ever experienced low-back pain and tried to lie on your stomach? If so, you can attest to the fact that it isn't comfortable. If the issue is anterior pelvic tilt, lying prone can enhance the misalignment and subsequent compression of vital nerve roots of the lumbar spine. A simple way to decompress this region; soften the taut muscles of the erector spinae, multifidi, and quadratus lumborum; and make the deeper muscles more accessible is simply to place a regular-size bed pillow underneath the pelvis. This bolstering supports lengthening of the lumbar spine and tilting of the pelvis posteriorly. 42 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 8

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