Massage Tutorial Video: Sciatica Myofascial Release Techniques

Today’s massage tutorial video is on sciatica pain and how to deal with it from a myofascial perspective:

You’ll notice that I don’t spend much time focusing on piriformis or any of the hip rotators. I don’t target the lumbar paraspinals or the sacrum. Instead, I encompass all of these areas in broad “steamroller” techniques that grab the fascia and give it some traction. I’ve had much more success with this approach than any specific neuromuscular work.

I also include some mobilization of the hip as I work, bringing it into different angles of rotation and abduction. While I can’t affect any disc dysfunction that might be present, I do think that I can work with spasm and hypertonicity down the line. Nothing in the body happens in isolation—if there’s nerve impingement near the spine, there’s tight muscle and hypersensitivity nearby, and we can work with that!

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For Massage Clients: Your Body is Just Right

Your body is exactly as it should be. It’s perfectly fine for your body to be the way it is, and to do the things a body does.

That means that you can be any shape and size, and that’s how it should be. Your skin can have hair, and stretch marks, and cellulite. Your stomach can make noises, your armpits can be fragrant, and you can snore when you fall asleep. Never apologize for being fully and thoroughly human.

Via Anna, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’re in pain, we want to help you have less of it, and to help you accept it. There is no “should” when it comes to pain, and judging and blaming your own body only makes things worse. What would it be like to work with your painful back or knee, to act in partnership? To accept yourself on good days and bad?

One of the beautiful things about massage is that it’s about the big picture. It’s an hour where we work with you as a whole person. While you might get some extra attention to your stiff shoulder, we won’t pick you apart into pieces. We want you to feel more integrated and connected, and to realize your wholeness on a deep level.

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Fibromyalgia and Massage: How to Help without Hurting

What is fibromyalgia, and how should we deal with it as massage therapists? Should we press directly on tender points, or avoid them? Should we use deeper pressure, or only lighter work?

If you’re completely unfamiliar with this condition, it means widespread pain that isn’t related to injury or overuse. If you’ve got fibromyalgia, a lot of your body hurts, and no one can quite tell you why. There are no lesions on MRI or CT scans, there are no strains or sprains; you just hurt. On top of that, there are other common symptoms: Poor sleep quality, fatigue, memory problems (often described as “brain fog”), and depression. You can read more at this Mayo Clinic article.

Fibromyalgia tends to be cyclical, with many sufferers noticing periods of flare-up and remission. Your clients will have bad weeks and good weeks, and finding out where they are in that cycle can help you determine how to proceed. More on that in a second.

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Video: 4 shoulder/neck stretches for your massage clients

Do you offer self-care to your clients? I’ve always been a big proponent of a little homework, and over the years I’ve come up with stretches that seem to help with pain, and that clients will actually follow through with:

And that’s what I’d like to talk about today—how to get clients to actually do self-care. In the world of medicine and physical therapy, this is called “compliance” or “treatment adherence,” and it can often make all the difference to patient outcomes. And still, it’s really hard to get patients to do exercises, take their pills, etc!

What hope do we have if people won’t even take a whole course of antibiotics? As massage therapists, we have a unique opportunity to bring our clients on board. I don’t just give a stretch printed on a piece of paper and see my client out the door. Instead, I relate it back to the massage I just gave: “Remember the tight muscles in your chest and shoulders? Those muscles are important for upper back pain.” We’ve just given the client a great deal of information about their body through massage, and that’s a much better motivator than “because I said so.”

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Building Your Massage Business (With a Little Help From My Friends)

People ask me about business stuff a lot, but… I stink at business stuff. I don’t promote myself often, or answer phones, or leave my house. I basically maintain a Facebook blog, advertise, and let clients come to me. This works for me and my social nopeness, but there are ways of tapping into your local client base quicker, finding the right people for your business, and getting the ball rolling in months rather than years. I can’t help you there, but I’ve got friends who can.

Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds run the Massage Business Blueprint, which I’ve been an advocate for since it began. I’ve even helped with a podcast and an article (they were about working with the gluteal region, so we got to say the word “butt” a lot). In fact, they bring in experts in different fields regularly, so it’s a good way of hearing a lot of viewpoints about massage and business.

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