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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 77 6. PIVOT AND FACE When you're doing a short stroke, you may be tempted to keep your feet stationary and twist at the waist to work an adjacent area. The problem is that when you do this, you lose leaning leverage. Instead of twisting at the waist, try pivoting and facing the area you want to work. Working the quadratus lumborum (QL) is a perfect example of how pivoting can be effective. Say you're at the side of the table working the lumbar erectors and you're not facing the direction of the stroke (Image 4). You reach L5 and you want to glide over to the ilium and work the QL attachment. If you keep your feet stationary and twist, you won't be able to effectively lean to maintain deep pressure. But if you pivot and turn your whole body to face the QL ilium attachment, you'll be in an excellent position to lean (Image 5). From this position, if you needed even more pressure, you could drive from your legs. By driving from your legs, I mean you transfer your weight from the soles to the balls of your feet. EMPLOY MASSAGE TOOLS Massage tools can save your hands when you have to work really deep in a specific area. One of my favorite tools is the T-bar (Image 6), and it's perfect for the arch of the foot. First, pin the T-bar between your hand and the arch of your client's foot. Then, use your body weight to lean in. For instance in Image 7, I'm demonstrating using an open palm hold, bracing my hand against my leg, and leaning in with my torso. IN A NUTSHELL Working really deep without being in pain starts with challenging certain massage mind-sets. "I have to do long back strokes when doing a relaxation massage" is one of them. For deep pressure, a reasonable approach to saving your body is to segment a long stroke. For example, divide a back stroke into upper, middle, and lower, and only work one segment at a time. By doing so, you can effectively lean into the client using your body weight to generate the pressure. That said, the massage table needs to be low enough so you can lean to generate pressure. When you lean, your shoulder, elbow, and wrist joints should be stacked and your knee(s) locked so you can properly transfer your body weight into the client. At the end of the short stroke, pause and, while maintaining the same pressure, reposition your feet so you can lean into the next short stroke. Also, pivot and face your target area rather than twist from the waist. Lastly, try a massage tool in places where really deep pressure has a tendency to beat up thumbs, like the arch of the foot. Put them all together, and I promise you'll be ready for your next deep-pressure client. Note 1. Edward G. Mohr, "Proper Body Mechanics From An Engineering Perspective," Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 14, no. 2 (April 2010): 139–151. Mark Liskey is a massage therapist of 24 years, teacher (, and business owner ( His blog at provides massage therapists with the extra knowledge and specific tools they need to succeed in massage. 6 7

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