Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2010

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body awareness BY BARB FRYE BENDING How do you find an ergonomically sound bending posture? Whether standing or sitting, bending is a function that you constantly use as a manual therapist. There is no way to avoid bending, primarily because manual therapy requires you to transfer your work from a vertical position to a horizontal one. That is, you are standing or sitting x vertically while working with a client who is lying down (horizontally). Given that many manual therapists work several hours a day, most days of the week, it is no wonder that working in a safe and comfortable bent position is the number one body mechanic challenge facing manual therapists. How do you meet this challenge Self-Observation #1 and find an ergonomically sound bending posture? First you identify the part of your back from which you habitually bend. You then learn a healthy bending alternative that uses your hip joints, knees, and ankles. Once learned, you can practice flexing from your lower body joints every time you bend over your massage table. In a short amount of time, you'll be bending with ease and you'll notice that the ache in your back is gone. SELF-OBSERVATION #1 BENDING FROM THE BACK Action. Stand next to your table. Reach your hands toward your table, bending forward using your neck, upper back, and shoulders. Feel. Notice how the muscles in your neck, upper back, and shoulders feel as you make this movement. Ask. Do you feel the effort in your neck? Upper back? Shoulders? Do you feel effort in other areas of your body? Feel. Notice if bending in this manner feels familiar to you. Ask. Would you consider your neck, upper back, and shoulders to be the place in your back from where you habitually bend ? Action. Stand again as before, then reach your hands toward your table, this time bending from your mid-back. Your shoulders will also be involved in the movement, but try to initiate the bending from the middle of your back. Notice. Sense how your mid-back and chest feel as you make this movement. Ask. Do you feel effort in your mid- back? Do you feel effort or a collapsing in your chest? How does bending in this way affect your breathing? Feel. Notice if bending in this manner feels familiar to you. Ask. Would you say that you habitually bend from your mid-back? 100 massage & bodywork january/february 2010

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