Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2013

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body-mind mechanics notice your physiological responses as you work. Are you holding your breath or breathing shallowly? Are you using superficial muscle power rather than the whole body and gravity? Are your muscles shaking, and your joints hyperextended and complaining? Are you perspiring from physical exertion? These initial signs will often alert you to strain before fatigue or pain manifest. Be open to amending your goals and techniques. If you fi nd yourself straining, rather than simply pushing harder or altering your posture, figure out a smarter way to work. • Use a different tool. If straining with a broad surface area, use a more compact tool such as an elbow rather than a broad forearm, or a single knuckle rather than a fist. A tool with a smaller surface area requires less effort to accomplish the same amount of pressure. • Gain a mechanical advantage with gravity. If you're straining your shoulder girdle when using extended arms, either shift your position in relationship to the table to better use your body weight or switch to a tool with more leverage (such as an elbow) that allows you to lean in. • Work more slowly. Often, the problem is simply working so fast that your client's tissue doesn't have time to release, and is instead fighting you. When I feel myself straining, or not getting the release I am working for, slowing down and backing off pressure will almost always do the trick. Don't be too attached to outcome. I often remind myself that release of tension is a communal effort. I can open the doors for release, but the client must also be involved. Let the client's bodymind adjust rather than forcing a shift. adjust biomechanical rules to suit your own needs. Don't be afraid to alter one-size-fits-all rules to suit your strengths. If your back is a weak link but your shoulder girdle is strong, you may want to experiment with a slightly higher table so you aren't leaning too far forward into low-back flexion. Conversely, you may want to try a slightly lower table so you can lean in with gravity, instead of muscling with your shoulder girdle. rest! Take a break not only between clients but also during your session to recharge your energy reserves. No session should be entirely composed of intense work. When you feel fatigue or a breakdown of your body mechanics, give yourself and your client a break by moving to lighter and more superficial work, integrating your deep work with surrounding areas. Not only will you recharge, your client can ingrain some of the benefits you have accomplished. In this new paradigm, we need to be aware that our state of mind and cultural perspectives affect how we work, and that we can inadvertently stress ourselves into improper or unsafe body mechanics. Being open to a new or different way of working and contemplating all aspects of body mechanics can bring us to a new level of sophistication in our work. marty morales is a certified rolfer, rolf movement Practitioner, and bodywork instructor. he teaches advanced workshops in his home state of california and internationally, and is the author of Mastering Body Mechanics—A Visual Guide for Bodyworkers (createspace independent Publishing Platform, 2012). for more information, visit energy

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