Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2016

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STR ATEGY #1 Avoid Moves That Hurt It seems fairly straightforward that you should immediately stop doing a massage technique that hurts you; of course, it's slightly more complicated than that. For one, some massage modalities frown on technique modification as sacrilege. If you follow such a modality, you'll have to decide for yourself whether you think modifying or changing a massage technique will affect the treatment outcome. From my experience as a neuromuscular massage therapist, I've found that I can still get the job done even when I amend or change a neuromuscular technique. Other times, an MT fails to see that a massage technique is hurting her body because she's locked into a routine. Tara, a massage therapist who was looking to get back into massage on a part-time basis, told me she was worried about aggravating her shoulder pain that was nearly debilitating when she was a full-time MT. I asked her to pay attention to her shoulder as she worked on me. When she did a subscapularis release on me, she felt that scary pain in her shoulder. So, I showed her a different subscapularis technique. She performed the technique on me and felt no pain in her shoulder. She was slightly embarrassed when she realized the solution to her shoulder pain while doing massage was to simply stop doing the technique that triggered her shoulder pain. The reality is we all get locked into routines, and sometimes it takes an outside observer to point out how something in a routine might be hurting us. STR ATEGY #2 Use Your Tools One sure way to start and continue experiencing pain is to be a one- trick pony. It's all too easy for an MT to over-rely on and overuse one tool (finger, thumb, knuckle, fist, elbow/forearm). For example, often an MT will develop problems with her thumbs because thumbs are perfect for both deep pressure and detail work. But, if an MT doesn't get comfortable with using a different tool for deep pressure (like an elbow or knuckle), or doesn't incorporate a different tool into detail work (like fingers or a hand-held tool), the thumbs will probably continue to hurt. I can attest to this. Early in my career, I used my thumbs for everything, including squeezing, which really made them ache. So, over the next few months, I experimented with a two-handed technique. Instead of squeezing a muscle (e.g., trapezius) between the thumb and fingers of one hand like I normally did, I started squeezing it between the fingers of both hands. The results were amazing: my thumbs stopped aching and I discovered I could actually deliver deeper pressure with less effort this way. In addition to over-relying on one tool, we tend to overuse our dominant side. If you're right handed, this means your right thumb, knuckles, and elbow are going to get more use than your left thumb, knuckles, and elbows. If you have a dominant- side pain issue, try using the tools on your nondominant side more frequently. Incrementally make the change. The more reps you get in, the more comfortable you'll get, and, eventually, you'll be able to even out the workload. This switch will give your fingers, thumbs, knuckles, and elbow/ forearm on your dominant side a chance to rest and heal. The reality is we all get locked into routines, and sometimes it takes an outside observer to point out how something in a routine might be hurting us. C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 89

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