Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2023

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Forearms Body Mechanics: Using the forearm involves contacting the client's body with the medial or posterior arm between the elbow and wrist joints. Do not try to use the anterior forearm, as it will inevitably cause misalignment (medial rotation) in your shoulder joint. Pronating one's forearm allows use of the softer part of the forearm, while slightly supinating allows use of the harder, ulnar side of the forearm. Your elbow will be f lexed and your stance will be lower so your body is closer to the client. Your scapula will once again be retracted and positioned inferiorly so that power and pressure can generate from the feet, legs, and core. In addition, keep length and lift in the cervical vertebrae. Often, when we lower our overall stance, there is a tendency to drop the head. Primary Benefit: Forearm use in lieu of palms reduces stress on the wrists. As long as the scapula is correctly positioned, stress on the shoulder joint is limited. Plus, it is easier to apply deeper pressure. Application: A forearm is great for gliding strokes over broad surfaces and dense musculature. It is a large tool that can be used at superficial or medium pressures. Use the ulnar side for more pressure and a harder feel for the client, or the posterior side for a softer feel for the client. Use on large back muscles, gluteals, hamstrings, and quadriceps. A small section of the forearm can be used strategically on a client's forearm or calf muscles. Elbows Body Mechanics: Your body position during elbow use is the same as the forearm, except the elbow is f lexed more deeply. Primary Benefit: Similar to using a knuckle, the elbow is a great alternative to thumbs. You can get the same specific and deep pressure, but with far less strain on the joints of the hand and wrist. Application: Also similar to a knuckle, the elbow is excellent for direct, sustained pressure and shearing strokes. Think of an elbow as one step broader than a knuckle. While it is still pointed, it is slightly larger and covers more surface area. When a knuckle is too pointy, an elbow is a good alternative. Be aware, though, that more power backs the elbow than the knuckle because of its proximity to your body (especially your core). Again, be sure to keep client communication at the forefront. DIVERSIFY YOUR "CRAFT" BOX While use of palms, thumbs, and fingers is inevitable, it is best to save them for strokes that can only be applied with anterior hands, such as squeezing, kneading, and percussion/tapotement. Additionally, the use of knees and feet is a great option; however, it is requisite to obtain proper training through continuing education on use of these anatomical tools to avoid misuse and miscommunication, which could result in injury to the client. Diversify your repertoire so that you ensure the outcome (or masterpiece!) you are creating is done with precision and purpose. Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. In addition to maintaining a part- time massage and bodywork practice and teaching yoga, she is a freelance content writer and educational consultant. Contact her at 90 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m ay/ j u n e 2 0 2 3 BACK TO BASICS Forearms Elbows

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