Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2010

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PLEASE VISIT THE DIGITAL EDITION OF THIS ISSUE AT MASSAGEANDBODYWORK.COM FOR VIDEO INSTRUCTION OF THE TECHNIQUES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE. instead, I had to push my thumbs horizontally into the sole of the foot. Using body weight to sink into tight tissue and wait for a release takes little effort; using muscular force to engage the tissue takes a lot more energy. I also began using my forearms to work the plantar surface of the foot, instead of my thumbs. Because the forearms are more durable than the hands, fingers, or thumbs (and with practice are just as sensitive), they are a bodyworker's most prized tool. By using my body weight and forearms, I could work out the bulk of the tension in the sole of the foot and polish off the toes with my hands in the supine position. This took the work out of the job and was much easier on my thumbs. These concepts of efficacy and efficiency led me to design the Auth Method of Forearm Massage with the health of the practitioner's body in mind. This method teaches how to use the forearms to work the entire body, including the feet. It also addresses how to hold the rest of your body while using your forearms. By using the forearms and practicing good body mechanics, the practitioner can work longer with less wear and tear on his or her body. The Auth Method is also designed to blend in with existing massage routines. AUTH METHOD FOOT PROTOCOL A treatment protocol designed for the sole of the foot must include the muscles of the calf with tendons that attach to the sole—namely the tibialis anterior, the gastrocnemius, and soleus. Tightness in these muscles can often contribute to tightness on the sole of the foot. To begin, start by working the gastrocnemius, then the sole of the foot, followed by the tibialis anterior, and then finish by polishing the foot with your hands and integrating in your existing foot massage routine. CALF GLIDE TECHNIQUE Stand alongside your client's calf in a lunge stance facing down his or her leg. Be sure that your outside leg, or the leg farthest from the table, is in front of you and the leg closest to the table is behind you. This allows the front of your torso to be open toward the area you're working on—in this case, the calf muscle. Bend your front knee slightly. Your front foot and your client's ankle should be in line with each other. Place the upper forearm closest to your client at the top of the gastrocnemius, just below the popliteal fossa. Take your other hand and place it under the ankle. Glide your forearm down the calf to the Achilles tendon, sinking your body weight down between the heads of the gastrocnemius (Image 1 on pages 62 and 63, and Image 2 at left). As you glide down the leg, bend the knee of the front leg; it is the bending of the knee that takes you forward in the stroke. At the end of the stroke, lighten your pressure and glide up the inner calf back up to the top of the calf, and repeat. Work layer by layer, patiently dropping your body weight onto the first layer of tight tissue. As that layer releases, you will sink into the next layer of tight tissue. Work patiently and methodically, waiting for releases in the tissue. By doing this, not only will the massage work you do be thorough and effective, but your client's experience will be less painful and more enjoyable. Remember, massage isn't something we do to our clients, it is something we do with them. Listen to your client's body—it will tell you how fast and how deep to go. Repeat this stroke as necessary, or reposition your forearm medially and laterally to glide down the belly of each head of the gastrocnemius all the way to the Achilles. This stroke can be done with or without a bolster. SOLE OF THE FOOT FOREARM TECHNIQUE After working the muscles and fascia of the back of the calf, it is time to work the sole of the foot. Reposition yourself so you are standing down by your client's feet, facing his or her head. Depending on the height of your client, stand either alongside the table by his or her feet or at the bottom corner of the table. If there's room, I like to put one hip on the table. This allows me to give my own feet a rest while working. Again, massage is labor- intensive, so conserve your own energy when possible. If you're sitting on the table, keep one foot on the ground, connected to the earth. Take the hand farthest from your client and position it under your client's ankle for support. Position your upper forearm (this includes your elbow—not the point of the elbow, but the continuation of the forearm) at the top of your client's heel. Glide your forearm from the top of the heel to the ball of the foot, contacting the entire surface area of the sole of the foot (Image 3 at left). Angle your forearm with the contours of the arch of the foot. To increase the intensity, drop more of your body weight down onto the foot, stabilizing with your other hand. Remember, the foot supports your client's entire weight; it can take a lot of pressure. At the end of the stroke, lift your forearm off the foot and begin the stroke again, slowing down as necessary to wait for releases in tight areas of the foot. Patiently work layer by layer, waiting for releases in the plantar fascia. connect with your colleagues on massageprofessionals.com 65

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