Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2013

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education classroom to client | Pathology perspectives | body awareness | functional anatomy | somatic research Appearance & Mechanics Are You As Polished As You Could Be? By Barb Frye Believe it or not, how you dress and groom yourself has an impact on your body 1 bad! mechanics. Being mindful of the clothes and shoes you choose, and how you wear your hair and nails, will increase your overall body awareness and support a healthy work performance. Clothing Manual therapy requires you to be physically active during the day, which makes the clothes you wear essential to your comfort and effectiveness. Your clothing should allow freedom of movement. If your clothes are too tight, your effectiveness and comfort will be reduced. Choose clothing with natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk, or wool, as they allow your skin to breathe; avoid synthetic fibers like nylon or polyester. Pay particular attention to your waist and chest. Wearing anything tight around your waist can become irritating, negatively affecting your mood, breathing, and body mechanics. Also, be especially mindful of the fit of your pants. They should allow you to move freely without restriction and sit comfortably without sensing a tightening around your waist. For women, wearing a bra that is restrictive can also impede your breathing and body mechanics. An athletic bra designed for continuous movement is ideal, especially for large-breasted women. A last point to keep in mind: stopping in the middle of a treatment to push up a sleeve or otherwise adjust your clothing disturbs the flow and can be unsettling to clients. Bringing awareness to these smaller, but equally important, aspects of your body mechanics will help increase your overall well-being, and that of your clients. 48 massage & bodywork july/august 2013 Not keeping your hair tied back will have a negative effect on your body mechanics. Hair Hair control can also contribute to healthy body mechanics. To reduce neck and shoulder discomfort, your hair should be kept out of your face, which will help prevent awkward postural patterns as you work. Many therapists are not aware of how distracting their hair is, but may unconsciously be holding their head to one side in order to keep their hair out of their face (Image 1). This holding pattern puts tremendous strain on the muscles of the back, neck, and shoulders. If this habit persists, discomfort is likely to occur. To avoid this, keep your hair out of your face and, if it is long, prevent it from hanging down in front of you. An added bonus—restrained hair is also hygienically prudent.

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