Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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Q&ART by limiting positional options such as side-lying positions, which are incredibly effective in moving joints and stretching tissue for effective release. Isolating small, undraped areas is counterproductive to an integrated connection of the whole body. If draping is limiting you, consider having clients wear exercise clothing to free up your work and save precious time. I urge every practitioner, new or long established, to always aspire to growing excellence. Avoid Using Too Much Lubrication Most bodywork issues involve short tissue that we want to grab and stretch, instead of sliding over slippery, overlubricated surfaces or just squeezing/compressing. Work in a Distal Direction In addition to short muscles that need to be stretched away from their proximal origins, many of our joints are compressed. Working in a distal direction stretches short muscles, trains nerves to release holding patterns, and decompresses tight joints. Avoid Cookie-Cutter Routines Every client presents different issues requiring different strategies. The biggest complaint I receive from the public is that people feel dehumanized when therapists fail to communicate about what the client wants, and instead perform generic and robotic routines. Express Your Individuality Many therapists leave workshops excited about new techniques and philosophies, only to butt heads with a long-established and rigid image of massage and projections of what they think their clients expect. It is much easier to impress our clients with something new and different than to make guesses about their expectations. know rather than the skills I was slowly building. So many people sell themselves short without realizing the great benefit they give and their potential for giving even more. Many people venerate the skill of others as beyond them, without realizing that everyone was a beginner at one time. Many stay with safe routines and seem to think that they lack the aptitude or don't have the background for more sophisticated (and more fun!) work. In class, therapists frequently ask if they are performing some demonstrated technique "right." This right/wrong dichotomy is terribly limiting, and the feeling we are doing something "wrong" can prevent us from trying something new. It is human nature to feel uncoordinated or inept when trying something new, but the only way to improve is to practice and learn to be comfortable with a temporary period of discomfort. Mastery is not all or nothing, and it entails a lot of practice and work. We all need to take the time to look inside and realize what mind-sets may be stifling our growth and the rewards that will come with that growth. If I may play cheerleader, I urge every practitioner, new or long established, to always aspire to growing excellence. My touch has improved more in the last year than any of the other 25 years I've been practicing. FAREWELL I recently came across a quote from director Quentin Tarantino that I think would be an appropriate end for this column: "I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say, 'OK, you're not that good. You just reached the level here.' I don't ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out of the gate."1 Best of luck to all. May your bodywork always be a constant source of enlightenment and fulfillment. Note 1. Charles McGrath, "Quentin's World," accessed September 2013, www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/movies/how-quentin-tarantino- SELF-IMPOSED LIMITATIONS For me, the saddest thing to see is a lack of selfconfidence in even the most established bodyworkers. I spent the first 10 years of my practice feeling selfcritical and insecure, focusing on what I thought I didn't concocted-a-genre-of-his-own.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. Art Riggs teaches at the San Francisco School of Massage and is the author of the textbook Deep Tissue Massage: A Visual Guide to Techniques (North Atlantic Books, 2007), which has been translated into seven languages, and the seven-volume DVD series Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release: A Video Guide to Techniques. Visit his website at www.deeptissuemassagemanual.com. 32 massage & bodywork november/december 2013

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