Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 51 of 141

to this pattern and help her find a more comfortable, vertical standing alignment. SITTING If a client experiences discomfort in the upper back and neck when sitting, notice the position of his head. Chances are it is not balanced over the spine. This imbalance stresses the muscles of the upper back and neck. Help your client find a more balanced position, and point out that when the head's weight is over the spine, it seems weightless. PUSHING AND PULLING Household activities requiring pushing and pulling, such as lawnmowing and vacuuming, can be strenuous on the low back. If you have a client who experiences pain during these kinds of tasks, explain the concept of selfsupport: using one's own body for support and not leaning on something for stability. Make sure that clients are generating power to push and pull from the hip joint, not the low back. This might take a little practice, but, over time, household activities may become more pleasurable and less exhausting. BENDING If you have a client with chronic back pain, ask her to slowly bend forward while you watch for movement in the spine and hip joints. If your client primarily bends from somewhere in the spine, point this out. Spend some time together bending from the hip joints until your client feels the difference between bending from the back and bending from the hip joints. BREATHING For clients experiencing minor physical discomfort, such as a backache, a mild headache, muscle cramps, or an upset stomach, leading them through some simple breathing techniques may help to relieve it. Encourage clients to focus their breath into the area of discomfort, then guide them through slow, deep cycles of breathing; for example, counting slowly to four while breathing in, counting slowly to six while breathing out, and repeating several times. LIFTING Many people perform tasks that require lifting. If you have clients who frequently lift at work or at home, remind them to get close and face the weight, bend from the lower joints, and keep the spine in a neutral position. This is especially important for people lifting small children throughout their day. Bringing attention to these few important rules now can prevent a serious injury later. Barb Frye has been a massage educator and therapist since 1990. She coordinated IBM's body mechanics program and authored Body Mechanics for Manual Therapists: A Functional Approach to Self-Care (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010), now in its third edition. She has a massage and Feldenkrais practice at the Pluspunkt Center for Therapy and Advanced Studies near Zurich, Switzerland. Contact her at See what benefits await you. 49

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Massage & Bodywork - November/December 2013