Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2019

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Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 29 in their deep state of relaxation. However, consider these alternatives: • This is simply a belief. Have you asked your client if they mind repositioning additional times so you can offer more effective approaches to their body? I bet if you put it that way, they'll be all for it! After all, they come to you to benefit from the relief your work provides. • Try side-lying only. This position can be used in place of prone and supine while still delivering quality work. It doesn't mean you have to replace these standard positions for every session, but variety is rarely a bad thing; it helps you stay engaged with your work and your client's ongoing enjoyment and benefit. • Approach repositioning like a moving meditation. Similar to incorporating breath to movement in a yin or restorative yoga class (which always chills people out in maximum fashion!), instruct your client to inhale before the movement, and then exhale as they roll over as slowly as possible, using the entire breath to complete the action. If they are a regular client who feels especially safe and comfortable with you, encourage them to keep their eyes closed as they move. OBSTACLE #3: IT'S DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN GOOD BODY MECHANICS While it may seem difficult, the same principles of body mechanics apply to side-lying as they do in prone and supine. The basics are to always face the direction of your stroke and initiate force from your feet, legs, and core. Stay close to your work, stack your joints, and keep your body in motion. Applying these principles only becomes difficult when side-lying clients roll to their side and remain in the middle of the table. This causes the therapist to overreach and lose their center. Simply instructing the client to roll and slide toward you as you stand at the side of the table will fix this problem. Their back and hips will be close to the edge of the table, which places you closer to your work. Just remember to instruct them to slide forward again before returning to their back to avoid them rolling off the table. USES AND BENEFITS As mentioned, there are abundant reasons why side-lying can earn Most Valuable Player in your massage practice. To name a few, side-lying offers: • A wider variety of angles from which to approach the neck, shoulders, hips, IT band, abductors, and adductors • Increased range when performing coxal, glenohumeral, and scapulothoracic joint movements • A safer and more comfortable option for clients with respiratory issues, large or tender breasts, low-back pain, medical devices or ports (depending on the location), or dislike of the face cradle • A safer and more comfortable option for work with special populations, such as pregnant women, fragile seniors, clients who are postsurgical from procedures that prohibit lying on the belly or back, or posttraumatic clients who may have anxiety or trust issues • A deeper sense of rest and nurturing, such as the fetal position while cradled in pillows, which can be delightfully therapeutic and exceptionally beneficial to inviting a parasympathetic response in your client EQUIPPING THE PLAYING FIELD Perhaps the most essential component to successfully bringing side-lying position into the game is equipping your practice with plenty of pillows and/or bolsters. Side- lying is most effective when enough props are placed to stack and align the client's joints. Every side-lying client should enjoy a pillow under the head so the cervical spine is in line with the rest of the spine. (Frankly, I'm not a fan of using the face cradle pillow, even though it might be most convenient; a regular pillow is more comfortable and supportive.) Use a pillow in front of the chest and abdomen to avoid rolling forward and rounding the spine and one or more pillows beneath the upper knee and ankle to align them with the hip. Clients can either stack knees and ankles or extend the lower leg. Either way, alignment needs to be intact. It's easy to incorporate side-lying position. Remove the obstacles, remember the benefits, and before you know it, you'll be scoring repeat clients because of your expanding offerings. Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. She maintains a private practice as a massage and yoga instructor. Contact her at cynthialynn@massagetherapy.com. Watch "Side-Lying Draping"

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