Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2010

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body awareness BY BARB FRYE SELF-CARE MECHANICS Body awareness is essential for developing sound and effective body mechanics. Body awareness is mindfulness of the body's movements, responses, sensations, and feelings. While developing this mindfulness, one becomes more aware of subtle movement patterns, such as the posture of the shoulders when working or the shifting of weight when standing. Developing body awareness requires you to become more self-observant, not only when performing manual therapy, but also during everyday life. You can increase your body awareness by incorporating just a few minutes of self-observation into each day. With time, self-observation will provide you with valuable information about your postural habits, alignment, areas of tension, and how you perform your work. This insightful attentiveness will in turn help you make more healthful choices between body mechanics that contribute to occupational injury and those that contribute to wellness and career longevity. An example of self-observation in manual therapy is noticing which tools you use to apply deep pressure. Do you apply pressure by bearing down through misaligned wrists and hands, or do you use the strength of your entire body and transfer the pressure through aligned wrists and hands? This simple, yet crucial, observation can help prevent symptoms of overuse (e.g., tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome). Here is a simple lesson to begin your journey of self-observation. SELF-OBSERVATION IncreaSIng bODy awareneSS action. Freeze your current reading position. You may be sitting, standing, or lying down. Whatever your position, hold it for a few moments. (You may continue to breathe.) Feel. Notice your overall position. ask. Are you standing, sitting, lying down, or in some other position? Is this a common reading position for you? 102 massage & bodywork march/april 2010

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