Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2010

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Rest for a moment. Action. Begin again, reaching out with your hands. This time purposely initiate the movement from your shoulders (Image 3). Make slow movements so you can pay close attention to how this feels to you. Feel. Notice how your shoulders respond. Ask. Do you feel tension or effort in your shoulders? In your neck? In your upper back? Rest again. Action. Begin again, reaching out from your shoulders. Feel. Notice how this feels in your chest. Ask. Do you feel effort in the muscles of your chest? How does reaching from your shoulders affect your breathing? Are you able to breathe normally without restricting your breath? Feel. Notice how reaching out from your shoulders affects the rest of your body. Ask. Do you sense how your lower body is "left behind" in the movement? Do you feel tension or effort in your low back? In your knees or your feet? Rest. Action. Now, stand in a one-foot- forward stance. Begin again to reach your hands out, but this time initiate the movement with your entire body. Slightly bend your hips, knees, and ankles, moving your lower body forward as you reach out with your hands. Have the intention of supporting the movement of your shoulders, arms, and hands with your center—your pelvis (Image 4). Continue reaching out in this manner, each time feeling how you can involve more and more of yourself in the movement. Try pushing your back foot into the ground as you move forward to reach. This can increase your overall support and strength throughout the reaching process. Many therapists feel this grounding. Rest. Action. Continue again, reaching out with your whole body. Feel. Notice how your shoulders, back, and chest respond to this way of reaching. Ask. Do you feel less tension or effort than before? Do your shoulders feel more fl exible, yet stable during the movement? Do you feel less tension or effort in your neck? In your upper back? In your chest? How does reaching from your entire body affect your breathing? Are you able to breathe normally without restricting your breath? Feel. Notice how reaching in this way affects the rest of your body. Ask. Do you sense how your lower body supports the movement forward? Do you feel less tension or effort in your low back? In your knees and feet? Do you feel how your back foot can help push you forward? Rest again. Reaching with awareness, by involving your entire body, will increase your effectiveness not only as a manual therapist, but in everyday activities as well. It will also protect your shoulder joint from chronic tension and prevent possible injury. Give yourself some feedback. How did reaching with your entire body affect the quality of your movement? and therapist since 1990. She coordinated IBM's body mechanics program and authored Body Mechanics for Manual Therapists: A Functional Approach to Self-Care, 3rd ed. (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010). She has a massage and Feldenkrais practice at the Pluspunkt Center for Therapy and Advanced Studies near Zurich, Switzerland. Contact her at barbfrye@hotmail.com. Barbara Frye has been a massage educator connect with your colleagues on massageprofessionals.com 105

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