Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2012

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best practices BUSINESS SIDE | Q & ART | TABLE LESSONS | SAVVY SELF-CARE Improve Tracking Roll Muscles to Free Movement By Art Riggs Q A DEAR ART, Some of my yoga and athletic clients have asked if I can improve "tracking" muscles and joints in my massage sessions. Could you please clarify this term and offer some techniques to use? —TRACKING TRACY DEAR TRACKING, The majority of strokes we perform move parallel to muscle fiber direction to relax and elongate short and tight tissue, improving comfort, movement, and posture. This is of tremendous benefit, but these strokes don't straighten muscles that are twisted or pulled out of alignment, so the muscles don't "track" in the direction they are intended to contract. This creates strain and excess wear and tear on large joints, such as elbows, hips, knees, and shoulders. Visualize the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles, the contraction of which plantarflexes the foot and provides the power for propulsion of the body through space. Take a moment to rotate (roll from left to right) your calf around the long axis of the tibia/fibula from side to side to end range of movement. Most everyone will find a bias to more easily rotate these muscles either laterally or medially, as well as a feeling of being stuck in certain areas. (I call this "hunting for where the Velcro is catching.") Now, imagine how this rotational bias may manifest itself when jumping, running, or walking thousands of steps each day. This torsion can cause unequal strain on the Achilles tendon and ankles, and prevent efficient transmission of muscle force, leading to Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and significant strain through the knees and hips. We often see athletes using high-tech tape (like Kinesio Tape or PerformTex) over joints to pull muscles into alignment so joints move properly. The great news is that we, as therapists, can focus our intention to not just lengthening muscles, but realigning them into a more efficient and freely moving position. Visit the newly designed Log in. Explore. Enjoy. 37

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