Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2012

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5. FACE THE MUSIC OK, this has nothing to do with comfort, but it's just cool. The Zenvi Sound cushion, marketed by EarthLite, incorporates the soothing effects of crystal-clear, high- fi delity sound into a massage. It's a super-comfy face cradle that connects to a client's MP3 player. Clients get to listen to whatever music they prefer. Enough said. 6. Conversely, pumping more air into the system raises the area around the shoulders of a prone client, creating a stretching position. "This is part of a trend you'll see in the future," Riach says. "Eventually, we're looking to put this in multiple areas across the tabletop, so massage therapists can lift different parts of the body and realign them." 8. INTEGRATE WEDGES FOR BETTER BREATHING Some clients have diffi culty breathing when lying supine. Propping up their back and shoulders can make them more comfortable. Three or four pillows can do the job, but stacks of pillows aren't as stable as a good, solid wedge. "Pillows can move or shift," says Rachael Cook, spokeswoman for Pisces Productions, a California company that specializes in unique massage tables, chairs, and accessories. "It's just one piece, so it's not reacting and shifting the way a stack of pillows would." Wedge cushions are also useful for pregnant clients, or to provide an incline for the knees. 7. 9. ADDRESS WOMEN'S NEEDS Large-breasted women, or women experiencing breast tenderness, may fi nd lying prone extremely uncomfortable. Some cushions are designed specifi cally to provide support to the breasts, which in turn will allow female clients to relax more. Some new high-end massage tables go a step further and provide a built-in recess for the breasts. Oakworks, for example, offers what it calls its ABC (Adjustable Breast Comfort) system that uses a foot pump and release valve to allow therapists to reduce the pressure on a woman's breasts without stopping the massage to get more pillows. GET BETTER ACCESS TO THE NECK AND SHOULDERS This is an area of concern to many clients. The Soothe- A-Ciser is a specially designed pillow that elevates the shoulders and lets the neck and head drape over the top, thereby hyperextending them and providing easier access for the therapist. "It was invented by a chiropractor for use as a traction device, but it's an excellent item for massage therapists to use," says Philip Mattison, president and owner of Core Products, a Wisconsin-based company that carries a line of therapeutic pillows. REPOSITION WITHOUT REDRAPING Most massage therapists try to avoid moving pillows and bolsters around too much once clients are positioned and draped. One option for easily repositioning a client without having to touch the drape is a butterfl y cushion. Designed like a butterfl y, with upper and lower wings on each side, the cushion is ideal for supporting the chest, shoulders, or spine, and is particularly good for clients recovering from recent surgery. "It's attached to two little hand pumps and you can pump it up under the sheet, so there are no modesty issues," Riach says. "When the client is comfortable, you just close the valve." 10. USE WASHABLE/WATERPROOF COVERS Pillows make great positioning devices, but standard cotton pillowcases don't provide much of a barrier for germs. Massage oils and body fl uids can soak through cotton covers and remain inside the stuffi ng of a pillow. So if you use pillows in the course of a massage, be sure to use a washable, waterproof cover that you can disinfect afterward. Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at Celebrate ABMP's 25th anniversary and you may win a refund on your membership. 23

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