Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2015

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Massage therapists' bodies require strength and stability in specifi c areas to effectively perform bodywork on their clients and avoid injury from overuse, repetitive motion, or muscle strain. MTs' most common injuries occur in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and lower back. To avoid these issues, proper body mechanics are crucial, as is a self-care regimen that alleviates stress in these areas. According to massage therapist and yoga instructor Cindy Williams, who suggests the following routine for Massage & Bodywork readers, "The key to unwinding any stress or tension in the body is to start with the spine. Move it in all its varying directions—extension, fl exion, rotation, and lateral fl exion." To preserve your best form, perform the entire sequence at the start or end of your day, and choose one or two of the poses that target your problem areas to practice between sessions. 1. CAT/COW (ALTERNATING) Helps relieve: shortened/tight chest and anterior shoulder area; neck fl exion; tension in the mid-thoracic spine; and shortened/tight forearm fl exors. • Begin with your hands and knees on the fl oor, with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Keep your back fl at and your abs engaged. Inhale. • On the exhale, round your spine up toward the ceiling. Imagine you're pulling your belly button up toward your spine. Tuck your chin toward your chest, letting your neck lengthen. • On the inhale, arch your back and let your abs release. Lift your head and tailbone toward the ceiling. • Continue alternating between the two poses, inhaling for cow pose (back arched) and exhaling for cat pose (back rounded). F r e e S O A P n o t e s w i t h M a s s a g e B o o k f o r A B M P m e m b e r s : a b m p . u s / M a s s a g e b o o k 23 TIPS FOR TODAY 5 Yoga Poses for MTs Tips to Avoid Common Injuries By Brandon Twyford Cow pose opens the chest and anterior shoulders, which are commonly shortened when performing massage. Gravity releases the neck muscles and sends blood to the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. The Downward Dog pose expands the anterior shoulders and chest, lengthens the low back, and eases tension in the legs and feet after prolonged standing. A very grounding pose, it also calms the nervous system and helps relieve stress. 2. DOWNWARD DOG Helps relieve: tight chest, shoulder, and neck muscles; and tension in legs, ankles, and feet. • Begin with your hands and knees on the fl oor, with your knees under your hips, and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your fi ngers. • Exhale and lift your knees up from the fl oor, pushing the fl oor away from you, and push yourself into an inverted V pose. • Press your chest toward your knees and straighten your legs, pressing your heels toward the fl oor. Keep your eyes focused on your toes. 3. MOUNTAIN POSE WITH ARM VARIATION AND SIDE BEND Helps relieve: shortened/tight shoulders, arms, and hands; and weak core muscles. • Stand with your big toes touching, your heels slightly apart, and your weight evenly distributed between both feet. Let your feet and calves root down into the fl oor. • Engage your thigh muscles and draw them upward, causing your kneecaps to rise. • Rotate both thighs inward, creating a widening of the sit bones. Maintain the natural curve of your spine. Draw your belly in and widen your collarbones, opening your chest. Draw the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Cat pose releases tension in the mid-thoracic spine and engages and strengthens the core.

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