Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2020

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Watch "Active Engagement Technique" very hard, as we do, and could not figure out how to keep my energy up. Physically, my body was exhausted. But it was deeper than that. I was emotionally depleted. The client was there to relax and the responsibility to accommodate that was something I took seriously. I would say things like, "This is your hour to completely let go." Or "Give yourself permission to let me do the work for you." I was proud of this nurturing side of me. But holy cow it was draining. Enter teamwork. We all understand the idea that healing starts from within. It is a concept we are taught in school, and it's incredible when we see it actualized. A shift in perspective, for example, can change our entire emotional state from judgmental to sympathetic, or from confused to enlightened. So why not activate that response within our clients? We ask them to practice self-care when they leave a session. Why not ask them to do the same in the moment? Asking your client to engage in their healing is something that will not only definitively increase your emotional capacity for work, but will also give your clients a new relationship with their own health and wellness. AET has the power to pull client awareness into the session; educate them about muscle isolation; unveil any unconscious holding, guarding, or firing patterns; and leave them with a deeper wisdom about their own body. PERFORMING AET The basic principle of AET lies in the idea that once a muscle is engaged, and then relaxed, it relaxes beyond its normal resting state. Similar to the principles behind proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. AETs are typically used with muscles or tissues that are dense or are not letting go. Finding depth can be difficult. Try these simple steps first. Once you've mastered them, the capacity for this technique is limitless. To start: 1. Isolate the muscle you are targeting— the biceps, for instance. 2. Bring the muscle into a neutral position. For the biceps, bend the elbow to about 90 degrees of flexion. You want to optimize its ability to contract. 3. Apply pressure to the muscle with one hand. Use your other hand to supply a resistance. In this example, you are holding your client's hand Asking a client to actively engage in a technique breaks the mold of the therapist doing all the work—and with the most amazing results. or wrist while sinking into the muscle with your other hand. 4. Ask your client to engage the targeted muscle. In this example, asking your client to bring their hand toward their shoulder contracts the fibers of the biceps. 5. Hold this isometric contraction, using about 20 percent of their energy, for about 5–10 seconds. 6. Once your client releases the engagement, sink into the muscle a little deeper. How much further you sink in, or whether you dovetail in a pin and stretch or some myofascial release work, is up to you. Every client is unique. But follow these basic steps, and you will find a whole new world opening up for you. Asking a client to actively engage in a technique breaks the mold of the therapist doing all the work—and with the most amazing results. You will feel invigorated. They will feel educated. And we have just made the world a slightly better place. I call that a win-win. Allison Denney is a certified massage therapist and certified YouTuber. You can find her massage tutorials at She is also passionate about creating products that are kind, simple, and productive for therapists to use in their practices. Her products, along with access to her blog and CE opportunities, can be found at N e w ! A B M P P o c k e t P a t h o l o g y a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / a b m p - p o c k e t - p a t h o l o g y - a p p . 79

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