Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2013

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ten for today 6. Save Your Thumbs Eight years into his massage therapy career, Greg Polins developed crippling pain in his thumbs and wrists. "I needed a solution or my career would have been over," he says. In desperation, he developed Thumbsavers ($14.95,, a flexible device worn over the thumb to help the therapist use proper hand mechanics, thus reducing the chance for fatigue, pain, and injury. 7. Self-Massage the Back The Pressure Pointer ($38–$50, is for self-applied trigger point therapy. It looks a little like a cane with a knob on top and is good for self-massage on the back. The device is extendable and curved, so users can actually operate it with their feet. "Since you're able to relax the muscle you're trying to treat, you can stretch and move it through its range of motion while you're applying pressure," says designer Gary Turell of Wellington, Colorado. "You can't do that with a hand-powered device, because you're flexing your muscles while you use it." 8. Scent Your Sessions Stephanie Whittier, founder of T Spheres ($20–$35, www.tspheres. com), hit on the idea of combining a massage ball with aromatherapy. As the device is rolled over the skin, it releases an aromatherapy scent, though it also comes as a nonscented device for use with aroma-sensitive clients. "You can use it in your practice," says Whittier, a massage therapist for 20 years. "It makes it easier to hit those tough points without using so much pressure. But it's also something you can use on yourself in between sessions." The ball can also be heated or frozen, expanding its usefulness. 9. Strengthen the Hand A massage therapist's hands flex all the time. That's why Performance Health's Hand Xtrainer ($14.49, is so useful. It's a hand exerciser that strengthens the hand by stretching and extending it rather than flexing it. "Because massage therapists' hands and forearms are in flexion most of the time, exercising and stretching with the Hand Xtrainer can help balance the muscles," says Lynda Solien-Wolfe, director of education for Performance Health. "It can help strengthen finger, hand, and forearm extensor muscles, preventing pain and injury." 10. Find elbow Relief Hands aren't the only things massage therapists need to protect; elbows also can suffer. When researchers at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City did a study on inexpensive ways to treat tennis elbow, they abandoned their experiments after two months because they knew they'd found the answer: a ribbed, pliable, 12-inch long bar that users grasp, twist, and untwist, flexing the wrist. Relief comes remarkably fast, helping some sufferers within three weeks. Researchers dubbed the exercise the "Tyler Twist," after physical therapist Timothy Tyler, one of the authors of the study. The device Tyler used is Performance Health's TheraBand FlexBar ($19–$30, Rebecca Jones is a tenured Massage & Bodywork freelance writer. She lives and writes in Denver, Colorado. Contact her at See what benefits await you. 25

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