Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2011

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q & art BY ART RIGGS DISCOMFORT AFTER MASSAGE Q A DEAR ART, A client came to me complaining of lower back stiffness and discomfort. I spent a lot of time working on his posterior pelvis and low back. He said he felt much better after the massage, but the next day he called to say that his upper back and neck were stiff and he had a slight headache. Can you tell me what I might have done wrong and how I should handle such situations? —CONCERNED DEAR CONCERNED, I'm really sorry you encountered this problem. I still experience posttraumatic stress when I remember my first similar experiences. Of course we want to avoid such occurrences, but it is very possible you did nothing wrong. Every excellent bodyworker I know occasionally deals with this, both as a practitioner and as a recipient of excellent work. Why do we massage therapists beat ourselves up if this rarely happens, when virtually every medication and medical treatment available alerts the population to a bewildering array of possible adverse reactions? Any bodywork—and not just deep work—that is powerful enough to help people can be powerful enough to temporarily upset the body's delicate balance. Adverse reactions to acupuncture, craniosacral, chiropractic, and physical therapy occasionally occur. It is crucial to distinguish between increasing or initiating symptoms and actual injury. The vast majority of symptoms disappear in a day or so and may just be temporary compensatory adjustments to beneficial changes elsewhere. Such occurrences are often a result of what one didn't do, not what one did. The key to excellent work is to integrate that work with the rest of the body so the stiffness doesn't find a new hiding place. Following are some suggestions for reflection. Practice good time management. Schedule sessions with enough time to adequately work in areas that require extra attention, but also to allow time for more general work to integrate both the physical body and the nervous system. earn CE hours at your convenience: abmp's online education center, www.abmp.com 29

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