Massage & Bodywork

July/August 2012

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PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH education Power Tools Knuckles, Fists, Forearms, and Elbows By Barb Frye When it comes to applying deep pressure, there is nothing better than the "power tools" —your knuckles, fists, forearms, and elbows. These tools are most effective in keeping your fingers and thumbs free from chronic pain and serious injuries. KNUCKLES In the hierarchy of power tools, your knuckles have first place. Small and nimble, yet stronger and more stable than the fingers and thumbs, they are superb tools for applying pressure. When considering the knuckles as tools, you have two choices: the interphalangeal joints (small knuckles) and the metacarpophalangeal joints (large knuckles). Use the knuckles with confidence where you would otherwise use fingers or thumbs for deep work (Image 1). FISTS The top, flat surfaces of the fists (the back of the proximal phalanges) are second in the power tool hierarchy. Larger than the knuckles, yet smaller than the forearms, the fists can conform to any part of the body. When applying pressure from the side, brace your elbow against your hip (Image 2). This will decrease the effort in your arm, allowing you to use your body weight to apply the force needed. Reminder: When using the fists directly from above, make sure your elbows and shoulders maintain proper alignment. This enables you to use the force of gravity to sink directly into your area of focus. Of course, it's crucial that your table height is set correctly. Otherwise, your shoulders will have the tendency to rise up, creating muscular tension and negating the force of gravity. FOREARMS The forearms are my personal favorite of all the power tools. Their long surface makes them ideal for deep, broad, sweeping strokes, and they can increase circulation in the area of focus faster than any other tool. Another added feature is their adaptability to all kinds of tissue. Whether the muscle in focus is thin and small or thick and large, your forearms can work effectively with all kinds of muscle types. Basically, you can use them anywhere you would use the palm of your hand. The ulnar side gives you a 1 46 massage & bodywork july/august 2012 2 3

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