Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2013

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four-legged clients Rou Fa is the base for other techniques. To begin, use your palm and thenar prominence. Start lightly and go in a circular motion with your hand flat on the surface of the animal's body. Relax your wrist so there's no tension on your joint. Feel the muscles and sinews move under your palm. As you proceed, the movement becomes more vigorous, increasing from about 60 rotations per minute to approximately 90 rotations per minute. Adapted from Tui Na–Level 1 (Tallgrass Publishers, 2013). With Tui Fa, use the thumb or whole hand with pressure being applied from the palm and heel of your hand. Have a relaxed, smooth, consistent sliding of the tip of your thumb or palm and heel of hand while applying moderate pressure. Glide over the surface of the body evenly both forward and back. Use a cotton cloth or sheet so you can perform the movement smoothly and not overly disturb the animal's coat. Adapted from Tui Na–Level 1 (Tallgrass Publishers, 2013). Certain animals are well-suited for different kinds of bodywork. For example, Snow finds that cats, who may not enjoy massage as much as dogs or horses, especially enjoy tui na. "I find cats and horses to be the most energetically connected animals," she says. "They have personalities. Some will like one thing and not another. You have to use your educated intuition." Reaching All Clients Therapists experienced in both animal and human massage and bodywork techniques say they're amazed at how often pets and their owners seem to suffer from the same maladies. It's usually not coincidence. "It is pretty funny how they mirror each other," Theobald says. "Many times, if you have an active dog coming in for a sports massage, the owners are fit and active themselves." "With horse and rider teams, if the human has a stiff neck, the horse may develop a stiff neck as well," Soukup says. "When we ride them and we're not in balance, we may cause them to be out of balance." Sympathy pains are also common. "I see more emotional things with dogs. Dogs live in the house with humans, and they pick up on those things, like anxiety and grief, which can manifest in physical issues like allergies." It's clear that both humans and animals can benefit from receiving bodywork, and these practitioners are proof that bodyworkers, through working with both humans and animals, can benefit, too. Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at See what benefits await you. 101

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