Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2016

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34 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 6 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education The Massage Artist Nurture Session Creativity By Anne Williams Great massage therapists are both analytical and creative. They use their analytical skills to evaluate clients through a health history intake process, visual assessment, and tissue palpation. Their technique is informed by the sciences of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology. But the smoothness of their hands and their ability to transition smoothly from one stroke to the next give the massage its flow and fluidity. This ability to tap into natural rhythms and graceful movement over the body is the artistry of massage. Both types of skills and thinking are equally important in the massage therapy room, but sometimes the artistry can be lost or forgotten along the way. Art-based learning activities that use painting, dance, and music are currently popular in the business world and a great way to develop (or reinvigorate) your massage artistry. Business leaders believe these methods unlock breakthrough ideas, encourage risk taking, increase self-awareness, and help people persist through chaos and change. Analytical thinkers benefit from art-based learning as much as creative thinkers, and it's a perfect exercise for massage therapists developing their hands-on skills. EXPLORE THE PAINTING One of the best ways to learn or review muscles is to draw them directly on a practice body with grease pencils or body paints. To create the drawing, you must palpate the edges of the muscle, identify the muscle's origin and insertion, and determine the muscle's fiber direction. The action of drawing and coloring the muscle directly on the body helps you remember details about the muscle later. In art appreciation classes, participants often learn how to look at and interpret a painting. The visual observation skills that allow a person to think critically about art are the same skills that help a therapist assess a client's posture and think critically about treatment plans. If you can learn to look at a painting effectively, you will build skills that support your assessment of clients. Go to an art gallery or peruse art books and use these questions to look at the art critically. • First, look quickly at the painting, photograph, or sculpture, and then close your eyes. What can you remember and describe about the art with your eyes closed? • Open your eyes and describe, aloud, what you see. What movements are happening in the artwork? Where do figures hold tension or express freedom? • What moods do the colors, shapes, and lines of the artwork suggest? • What emotions are the people in the artwork experiencing (if applicable)? • What do you think the artist is trying to tell viewers? • How does this piece of art make you feel? What does it make you think about? Are there parallels in your own life to the feelings and activities represented in the image? Now, try conducting a posture assessment of a client using the same questions you used to assess the artwork. Journal about what you learned from this exercise.

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