Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2010

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3. WHAT DO I LOOK FOR IN A HAND TOOL? Above everything, it has to feel good in your hand. It needs to mimic as closely as possible the stroke you would apply with your bare hand. "The idea, with any type of pressure tool, is that it should feel just like your thumb and forefinger," says Jen Tracy, a massage therapist and co-owner of the Colorado-based Neuromuscular Solution, makers of the NMT-Bar. Beyond that, consider the ergonomics of the tool and how you will put it into practice. "Does it allow you to keep your wrist straight?" asks Renee Gladieux, director of sales at the Pennsylvania-based Pressure Positive Company, makers of such popular hand tools as the Jacknobber, Index Knobbers, and the Knobble. "Does it allow the therapist's body to maintain good mechanics? Is it durable? Does it clean easily?" Greene recommends finding a tool that you can grip comfortably with your whole hand, not just your fingertips. 4. ARE THERE ANY BAD TOOLS ON THE MARKET? Bad is usually in the eye of the beholder. What works well for one person may be a disaster for someone else. Greene recalls seeing one especially poorly designed tool that had a long handle that would rest at the base of the user's palm—an ergonomically dangerous choice. Also be wary of bad tools that aren't on the market—things rigged by amateur inventors that really could do more harm than good. "We have a whole closet jammed from floor to ceiling with prototypes that people from all over the world have sent us," Gladieux says. "Some you may see in a catalog some day, and others you will never see. They're in our closet because the factors didn't come together to manufacture them in a way that would be cost-effective." "Some are too complicated," says Bernard Gladieux Jr., Renee's father and president of Pressure Positive. "Some are too hard to use. And some just don't have the market potential." Polins says he experimented with more than 100 prototypes of Thumbsaver before he came up with the model that's now on the market. WHEN I'M USING A TOOL? Experts are split on this. Done properly, a client won't realize when you've stopped palpating with your hands and begun using a tool. If the object is simply relaxation, there may be no need to interrupt a client's reverie. Of course with more aggressive 5. modalities, client feedback is important. "Some deep muscle techniques are pretty rough, and you want to get feedback from clients as to how much is too much," says Bernard Gladieux. "That tipping point is critical." Renee Gladieux says she always alerts clients when she is switching to a hand tool. "In trigger point therapy, particularly, you often will search around for the sweet spot that represents the hyper-irritable node, and there's no way the therapist can find that spot without feedback from the client." SHOULD I TELL MY CLIENT ACUFORCE 2.5 connect with your colleagues on 79

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