Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2012

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education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH The Fingers and Thumbs By Barb Frye Their sensitive and flexible nature make the fingers and thumbs the best choices for palpation, energy work, grasping and light strokes, and gentle pressure. However, because of their delicate and unstable structure, the fingers and thumbs should not be used to apply deep pressure. Bringing awareness to how you use your fingers and thumbs is the best approach to ensuring their health and longevity. PALPATION When using the fingers and thumbs for palpation, use them gently and lightly. If you press too hard, you will dull their receptiveness and lose a certain amount of sensitivity. yes ENERGY WORK The fingers and thumbs are ideally suited for modalities that palpate and manipulate the energy flow in the body (e.g., acupressure, polarity therapy, reiki, and Therapeutic Touch). To increase receptivity, breathe and let your arms and shoulders relax. This allows your body's energy to flow freely down your arms and into your hands. GRASPING AND LIGHT STROKES Kneading, squeezing, lifting, and pulling (traction) are examples of the grasping techniques that you can perform effectively and safely using the fingers and thumbs. When utilizing grasping techniques, move your entire hand and arm with ease. Because there are no muscles in the fingers, muscles in your hand and forearm power your fingers via the tendons. When you grasp in a repetitively forceful or strained manner, your hand and forearm tire quickly, leaving your fingers and thumbs powerless. Manual lymphatic drainage, effleurage, and nerve strokes no are examples of light strokes that are also appropriate for the fingers and thumbs. When applying light strokes, consciously breathe slowly and deeply, allowing your fingers and thumbs to relax. The tendency is to overextend the fingers and thumbs when applying light strokes. This pattern quickly fatigues the fingers and thumbs, leaving the entire hand weak and strained. Celebrate ABMP's 25th anniversary and you may win a refund on your membership. 41

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