Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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best practices BUSINESS SIDE | Q & ART | TABLE LESSONS | SAVVY SELF-CARE Safely Navigating Injuries By Art Riggs Q DEAR STRIVING, I'll offer some specific treatment suggestions in a bit, but let's begin with some general thoughts. The most important rule is to never work on anyone if you don't feel confident in the safety of the techniques you use. It is a sign of competency, not inadequacy, to be honest and say you don't feel comfortable working with a certain condition. I learn something important from recognized A luminaries in every issue of Massage & Bodywork. However, working on injuries is very much learning by doing rather than simply studying techniques. Videos offer the invaluable benefit of seeing the intangibles of touch and pace, but there is nothing like taking hands-on workshops or working under the supervision of a mentor to learn at the deepest level. Be patient in expanding your skills working with injuries; the fun of this work is the incremental expertise that comes with practice. That said, let's explore some specific strategies that should prove helpful in safely working with most any complaint a client may have. DEAR ART, My spa has an excellent reputation for therapeutic bodywork and working on injuries, but recently we had two clients report that acute symptoms for which they sought treatment had flare-ups after their sessions. Do you have suggestions for safely navigating the line between therapeutic and relaxation bodywork? —STRIVING FOR SAFETY Set realistic goals and communicate with your client before the session. Take pressure off of yourself by letting your client know that your goal is to facilitate the natural healing process, not offer a miracle cure. I often say, "Let's see if we can get you moving in the right direction by putting some energy into the area and relaxing some tension." Plan shorter sessions. Particularly for low-back complaints, lying in one position for too long and overworking are often the causes of increased symptoms. It is sometimes beneficial to suggest 30-minute sessions on a more frequent basis and not spend too much time on the area of complaint. See what benefits await you. 33

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