Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 27 Pacing with Purpose Pause Personal Style and Add Intentional Variety By Cindy Williams education | BACK TO BASICS into a more enlivened state by the end of the session might be just what they need. While these types of visual observations can inform you, it's best to not make assumptions. Instead, allow your observations to guide your intake questions. Based on what you observe, you could ask, "How can I tailor the session to you today? Would a session that helps you slow down feel beneficial?" or "Would you like the massage to energize you today?" These might not be questions you ask at the start of every single session, but they can be useful questions to pull out of your back pocket whenever you see that overall pacing could be used to support a client's current state of being. When leading a client into a state that is counter to how they present at the beginning of the session, it is best to match where they are currently. Then, slowly lead the body and nervous system with a gradual shift in pace. PALPATION ASSESSMENT Throughout the session, a therapist's job is to continually notice the quality of the tissue beneath their hands. The choice of stroke and pace of application depends on what you sense and feel, as well as what you learn through the client's input. Following is a general overview of basic massage strokes, their purpose, and their effects based on the pace in which they are applied. Effleurage Effleurage is a long, gliding stroke used to initially warm the tissue and prepare for more focused and detailed work. Additionally, effleurage strokes are used to smooth, iron out, and flush areas after they have been worked in detail. They are used to begin and end each body region, as well as transition from one region to the next. When applied slowly, effleurage strokes activate parasympathetic nervous system response, bringing the client into a slower and more grounded state of being. When applied quickly, effleurage strokes are stimulating and invigorating, which makes them useful for raising the energy of a client who is feeling sluggish or depressed. Transitions are most effective at a moderate pace as you create balance from region to region. Petrissage Petrissage includes a group of rhythmic strokes that are designed to lift, twist, torque, and bend the tissue after it has been warmed in order to separate tissue from underlying structures, such as bone and other muscles. Their use supports One of the beautiful aspects of being a massage therapist is having the freedom to find your personal style in the delivery of your hands-on work. Have you noticed with some massage therapists that part of their personal style involves adopting a common pace to the massage? Some therapists tend toward working swiftly while others offer a slow, trance- inducing pace. While it is important to have a personal style in your delivery of massage, pacing is most effective when determined with purpose rather than personality. So, the primary question to ask yourself when deciding on pace is, "What does this client need today?" In order to understand the value of pace in massage application, we'll look at various aspects of the client-centered experience that determine the choice of pace you use. Those aspects include visual assessment, palpation assessment, and clarity of therapeutic outcome. VISUAL ASSESSMENT When a client walks in the door, visual assessment begins. Observing the pace the client is taking in your interactions can be used as a tool to determine the overarching pace of the massage. For example, if a client appears to be rushed, stressed, or anxious, it might be beneficial to lead them into slowing down and grounding over the duration of the session. In contrast, if they appear—or communicate to you—that they are feeling low, lethargic, or depressed, leading them

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