Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2016

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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 . 91 STR ATEGY #3 Switch Tools Using pain as a guide to make an adjustment, don't be afraid to switch tools in the middle of a stroke. For instance, I may start a back stroke with a thumb at the shoulders, but if my thumb starts to bother me in the middle of the stroke, I will immediately switch to a knuckle braced by a fist. Or, if I want to continue to use my thumb to pick up tight areas, but I don't want to stress my thumb, I will brace it with a knuckle and transmit the deeper pressure (if needed) through my knuckle. DO MORE MASSAGE AND HURT LESS Integrating Tools Tool changes within the same stroke may seem like they would be messy, but they're not, especially if you slow down your stroke. In fact, when I make a tool change during a stroke, I often stop. When experimenting on other MTs, I learned that the pause didn't feel awkward to them as long as I maintained the same pressure in all facets of the tool transition. Here's an example of a smooth tool transition: I'm gliding with my right thumb, but it starts to hurt. I stop the stroke and place the middle knuckle of my left hand down, exerting the same pressure as I am with my right thumb. I lift off my right thumb and continue the glide with my left knuckle. STR ATEGY #4 Adjust Table Height If your pain areas involve neck, shoulders, arms, and/or hands, lowering the table height for deep pressure can be a game changer. For me, it was the key move that made my shoulders (right AC joint and left shoulder capsule) happy again. Lowering the table will allow you to use your body weight to generate pressure without taxing your upper body. How low you set your table will depend on the pressure depth requested for the massage, the primary tool that will be used for the massage, the client's size, and the area of focus. First, find out what kind of pressure your client wants. Deep pressure requires you to lean into the table with most, if not all, of your weight. So, for deep pressure, your table will be set lower than it would be for light pressure, which requires a minimal lean. Next, decide which tool will be your primary tool for deep pressure. Is it going to be elbows/forearms, thumbs, or knuckles? In order to lean with all your body weight, thumbs and knuckles will require a lower table height than elbows/forearms. Is there a specific area that needs deep pressure? If so, this may further affect table height. Picture your massage table with a person lying face down. Now imagine the person's body is a contour map. The highest parts on the prone-body contour map are typically thoracic back and glutes. If you're going to focus on the thoracic back or glutes (or both), you'll want your table low enough so you can lean your full weight into these areas without having to push with your arms and shoulders. Lastly, the size of the person will affect table height, too. In terms of the prone-body contour map, a large person's thoracic area is going to rise off the table higher than a small person's thoracic area. If a big person requests a deep thoracic back massage, your table should be lower than it would be for a small person who requests a deep thoracic back massage. Whether you're leaning in with an elbow or barred thumbs, your lower back should always be neutral, not flexed or hyperextended. To maintain lower-back neutrality when leaning, I periodically lift my rib cage up as I breathe in, then slightly suck in my lower abdomen to make sure my back is straight. If your table is too low, you may start to feel pain in your lower back. That's a sign your table needs to come up a notch. Everyone's experience is a little different. Experiment with table heights while performing deep pressure to determine what works best for you.

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