Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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technique @WORK | THE SCIENCE OF MOVEMENT | ENERGY WORK | MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES Now, About You Addressing MT Injuries By Whitney Lowe pressure. When the thumb is used in proper alignment installment in our series for these types of on occupational injuries techniques, the detrimental impact of and designing effective compression loading treatment strategies is reduced (Image 1). However, even to address them. It then, accumulated seems only fitting that stress can lead to joint damage. Because we wrap this series up the thumb is not with a discussion of injury a weight-bearing joint, it is not ideally conditions that plague suited for the high massage therapists. levels of compression Correct loading of the thumb for deep pressure: a relatively that occur in these One of the key reasons straight line from forearm/wrist through the thumb. techniques. people leave the massage While longprofession is physical injury. term compression People enter this field with forces can be damaging to the thumb in almost excitement and enthusiasm, only to realize that any situation, the majority of thumb injuries occur it is a physically demanding occupation. In 2006, from improper mechanics. When deep pressure is authors Lauriann Greene and Richard Goggins applied with the thumbs in a misaligned position, reported on a survey conducted by ABMP regarding the supporting ligaments, joint capsules, and injuries to massage therapists.1 The survey identified tendons must absorb the load. The pressure of the problematic body regions and injuries most the stroke is thus both less effective and more reported by massage therapists. In this final damaging for the thumb joint (Image 2). installment, we'll take a look at some of these The thumb is highly effective at delivering conditions and identify key strategies to address deep, specific pressure, and it is tempting to both conditioning factors and injury reduction. continue using it for this purpose despite the likelihood of eventual injury. Unfortunately, a THUMB PAIN debilitating thumb injury can be career ending. One of the most common pain complaints from The most effective way to reduce thumb injury massage therapists is pain in the thumbs. Numerous is to use an alternative small contact surface. massage techniques are designed to take advantage Fingertips can be used for certain techniques, of the opposable action and large range of motion of but the elbows or knuckles are also useful. the thumb. It is a tool ideally suited for applying deep Pressure tools are another option, and there pressure, as well as performing sweeping and gliding are many on the market. Find one that fits well movements. The downside is that the anatomical with your hand and your working style. I have architecture of the thumb is not cut out for the several: some I have had made specifically for my types of stresses massage techniques accumulate. own use, and others, like the Shemala Finger Press The most common thumb complaints arise Massager (Image 3), seem to best replicate the from using the thumb for static compression feel and flexibility of a natural thumb or finger. or deep gliding techniques that use significant This is the final 1 102 massage & bodywork november/december 2013

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