Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

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best practices BUSINESS SIDE | Q & ART | TABLE LESSONS | SAVVY SELF-CARE Never Quit Growing By Art Riggs DEAR READERS, It is time to say goodbye to the Q & Art column. From the start, I have tried to answer questions about the broader philosophical and psychological steps to growing a successful practice. Now, it is time for me to move on. I will return with more blather in occasional longer articles that will focus on specific bodywork strategies. From discussions with countless therapists, I've learned that the obstacles preventing our growth and success in bodywork most often come from inside. Though education is crucial to growth, continuing to take more courses may give a false sense of safety when our success, more often, springs from exploration of ourselves. I'd like to summarize a few of the broader points I've covered in the last several years. TOUCH IS EVERYTHING! Although I'm a great believer in continuing to learn techniques, these are of minimal benefit if one doesn't know how to deeply access the body with a great touch and contact the person behind the body. Proper touch is a complex blend of your unstrained biomechanics (allowing you the all-important skill of a soft touch that is comforting but deep) and your mental state that tries not to force things to happen, as well as countless other subtle things that establish a trusting connection between you and your client. Of course, techniques are important, but with the proliferation of knowledge, I see an implication that there is some magic trick (often exclusive and expensive) that enables success. The ability to just "find the holding" is the key, and then to patiently release tension with the realization that each client understands a different language of effective touch. Rather than spending precious time with specific diagnostic evaluations, much can be accomplished when we are actually working for release. Listening to our hands, rather than intellectualizing, is often the key. Speaking of techniques, most conditions we can help are a result of contracted fascia or muscles. The basic and simple principle of lengthening short tissue seems to me the key to implementing change in the body. I receive countless comments from therapists about how focusing on grabbing, stretching, and lengthening short tissue, rather than just kneading muscles, has changed how they work and drastically improved the success of their practices. Determining where tissue is short and how it is restricted is a large part of our work. The first skill is knowing where to work; the next is knowing where not to. The easiest way to find restrictions is listening to your hands and cultivating the skill of determining what combinations of osseous, ligamentous, tendinous, muscular, fascial, or neurological protective holding patterns are involved. To release tissue, the key is to challenge the restriction in the non-neutral position, both for evaluation to find resistance to range of motion, and to place those restrictions on a stretch to afford release and lengthening rather than just squeezing tissue. HAVE AN OPEN MIND FOR GROWTH Much of our early training involves somewhat rigid rules that are necessary to safely train beginning students, but some therapists are so attached to unquestioned early commandments that new paradigms are rejected automatically. Sometimes growth requires letting go of old concepts and routines that are holding us back to make room for the new. Following are a few areas to focus on. Rethink OverFastidious Draping Of course draping is important for our clients' comfort and modesty. However, we need to ask ourselves if we are shortchanging our clients' needs See what benefits await you. 31

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