Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2012

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Q & ART 1 2 3 4 All that is needed is to grab a muscle compartment and roll the entire muscle from side to side to free it from restrictions with adjacent or deeper muscles. Often, large muscle groups such as the calves, gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, and triceps actually feel stuck deep down at the level of the bones, so we must picture rolling these muscles completely to their end range of restriction, then waiting patiently for the adhesions to melt and relax, thus creating better alignment and joint tracking. It is crucial to understand that you are not jostling muscles back and forth quickly; it may take more than a minute for the muscle to release and soften while you wait at end range of the rolling. This is very different from effective cross-fi ber friction techniques that roll over the muscle rather than rolling the entire muscle. Although I often speak of stretching muscles to effect a release and lengthening, it may sometimes be advantageous to position the body so that the muscle is a bit shorter and relaxed so you have more freedom to grab and roll the muscle around the bone. Let's look briefl y at a few of the (almost limitless) possibilities that easily demonstrate this technique. ROLLING THE ILIOTIBIAL BAND/QUADRICEPS AROUND THE FEMUR This can be done in prone, supine, or a side-lying position and is extremely benefi cial for proper hip and knee tracking. First, determine if the muscles and fascia have bias to rotate either laterally or medially around the femur to determine which direction to release. Keeping your hands soft and applying force with your body weight, simply grab as much tissue as possible and deliberately rotate around the bone (rather than rotating the bone) to end range, and then apply steady pressure until you feel the tissue release (Image 1). The key is steady pressure rather than using too much effort and trying to force things. This could be equally effective with the adductors or hamstrings. MOBILIZING THE DELTOID AND UPPER TRAPEZIUS So many forces in our lives put us into a forward-slumped shoulder position. Most often the whole deltoid complex is rotated forward around the shoulder joint, causing negative effects on posture and glenohumeral function. My students love the technique of grabbing the entire deltoid complex and rotating it around the joint in a posterior direction, again patiently waiting for a release. You may also take advantage of active motion by having your client slowly move the humerus into internal or external rotation as you hold the tissue stationary (Image 2). Not all trapezius tension is due to short muscles. While you are at it, why not use a soft fi st to gently mobilize the upper trapezius posteriorly (Image 3)? FREEING THE CALF The side-lying position affords the best mechanical advantage using one or two soft fi sts (Image 4), but fl exing the knee in supine position will also offer a stroke that really feels good and allows for gripping the whole calf (Image 5). I hope these options give you some clarity and strategies for rolling muscles and that it proves helpful in your practice. I fi nd that clients love the feeling, and they often say that they haven't experienced the sensation before and describe the work as "molding clay." 5 Art Riggs teaches at the San Francisco School of Massage and is the author of the textbook Deep Tissue Massage: A Visual Guide to Techniques (North Atlantic Books, 2007), which has been translated into seven languages, and the seven-volume DVD series Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release: A Video Guide to Techniques. Visit his website at 38 massage & bodywork september/october 2012

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