Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2010

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body awareness BY BARB FRYE x SELF-SUPPORTED PUSHING In the last issue (July/August, page 104), you learned to reach by integrating more of your entire body. Now it's time to put your effective reaching into action and learn how to push and pull in a self- supportive manner. The function of pushing is inherent in manual therapy. Here are a few examples: when making long effleurage strokes, when assisting with a stretch, or when sinking into muscle tissue during a seated massage. In each of these examples, and in all other pushing situations, apply these principles: 1. Generate the power from your lower body. 2. Keep the joints of your hands, elbows, and shoulders in proper alignment. 3. Bend from your hip, knee, and ankle joints. (We covered bending in the January/February issue, page 100). 4. Support yourself by staying grounded on your feet, not by using your client's body. The following partner practice will help you explore these principles. PARTNER PRACTICE SELF-SUPPORTED PUSHING Action. Ask your partner to lie prone on your table. Slowly begin to push your hands down your partner's back in such a way that requires you to use your partner's body for your support. When you reach the lower back, stop and remain in this position for a few minutes (Image 1). Feel. Sense how your hand and wrist joints respond when pushing this way. Ask. How much control and sensitivity do you have in your hands right now? How comfortable do your hand and wrist joints feel? Where in your hands do you feel most of the stress when pushing this way? What would happen if you were to quickly remove your hands from your partner's back? Feel. Notice the effort in your neck, back, and shoulders. Ask. Is there an increase of muscular effort in your neck? Your back? Your shoulders? Feel. Sense the amount of control and balance you have in your legs and feet. Ask. Are your feet able to maintain contact with the ground? Do you sense an increase of effort in your legs? Do you feel balanced and in control? Feel. Notice if you are able to breathe comfortably. Ask. How is your breathing affected when pushing this way? Finally, ask your partner how this manner of pushing feels in regard to your quality of touch. Action. (Be careful with this instruction.) Now, quickly remove your hands from your partner's low back. 102 massage & bodywork september/october 2010

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