Massage Therapist Self-Care Video: Wrist Pain

This week’s video is on self-treatment for wrist pain. It’s specifically for massage therapists, but I imagine there’s some good info in there for other people.

The information in this video should be pretty safe for any non-traumatic wrist injury, whether it’s a persistent ache after increasing your daily workload, or pain following a “tweak” during a deep pressure massage. I talk about stretching, strengthening, and self-massage, as well as a basic timeline for your recovery. If your pain sticks around despite treatment, feels unusual, or gets worse, do see a medical professional.

Other than the treatment stuff, I mostly emphasize rest. Now, it’s hard to imagine resting your wrists while continuing your massage practice, but it’s possible. You’ll need to find ways to reduce the proportion of your massage where you’re applying palmar pressure. If it’s currently 50%, we need to get you down to half that, or less, for the recovery period.

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Reading Your Client’s Mind: The Art of the Follow-up Question

When I’m interviewing new massage clients, there’s a trick that I do that makes me seem psychic. It goes a little something like this: They’ll mention that they have headaches, and I’ll ask where. They’ll point to their temples, and I’ll ask if they also have jaw pain/dysfunction. “Yeah, I do! How did you know?”

I’ll give them an enigmatic smile and say, “a magician never reveals his tricks.”

Via Alan Levine, CC BY 2.0
Via Alan Levine, CC BY 2.0

… Not really 🙂 I’ll take the opportunity to let them know about their temporalis muscle, and how jaw problems can refer up into the temples, and vice versa. I’ll emphasize the reciprocal relationship between the two areas, and let them know that I’d like to work with areas related to their pain rather than just concentrating on any one spot. They’re usually pretty enthusiastic about this approach.

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Massage Technique Video: Myofascial neck spreading/stretching

This one’s a simple myofascial spreading technique for the neck and chest:

I use two hand tools for this—a loose fist to glide up the neck, and a palm to spread the upper chest tissue laterally. Make sure to use broad, slow pressure with both, and to conform your tools to the changing landscape underneath them.

I prefer this over traditional neck stretches taught in massage classes. It still gives the client a deep feeling of stretch, but it keeps them within their comfortable range of motion. As long as you work broadly and slowly, you can use firm pressure without compromising the sensitive tissues in the cervical region. Let me know what your clients think! Like I say in the video, I’ve found it to be a real crowd-pleaser 🙂

Massage Video: 5 Massage Methods I’ve Abandoned

New instructional video! This one’s on five massage practices that I no longer make use of:

Why? Some of them were a little more trouble than they were worth. As much as I love psoas work, for example, it takes a good 10 minutes of my session if I give it the time and consideration it deserves. I’ve found that I can accomplish much with low back and hip pain by working with related structures. While I don’t always contact psoas, I know that by working with its synergists and antagonists, I’m having a wide-ranging effect.

Some of my old methods may have even been causing harm. The extreme neck stretches/massage that I learned in many continuing education courses (and that I see in many YouTube videos) are asking a LOT from a collection of rather delicate and sensitive structures. As I say in the video, side effects from this work can range from pain to syncope, and there’s even a chance for tissue trauma in vulnerable clients. Does this mean I don’t work with the neck? Heck no, I can spend a good half hour there 🙂 I just work within existing ROM, and avoid techniques that might compromise the local nervous and vascular tissue. I’ll have a demonstration of a good myofascial technique for working with neck ROM up soon.

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Massage Tutorial Video: Side-lying techniques and demonstration

Today’s massage tutorial video is on side-lying massage. While it’s not a comprehensive course, it should be a good refresher for those of you who haven’t given one in a while, and it should have some useful tips for the long-time therapists in the crowd.

 If you haven’t given a massage like this is a while, the general set-up and communication can be a little daunting. What pillows go where? How do I make this a deep massage without shoving them off the table? While I try to give a good overview of the answers in the video, you’ll definitely find it helpful to start with a friend. Find one who’s comfortable speaking their mind, and who’ll tell you when something doesn’t feel quite right.   While it can be tempting to only do light-pressure Swedish on side-lying clients, this is a great opportunity to offer deep massage that just isn’t possible with a prone or supine client. When applying pressure to the low back, you get a rotational component to the technique that’s built in. As you work with the shoulder, you’ll find that it’s quite mobile as it floats atop the rib cage. Use this opportunity to interact with lateral structures that don’t receive a lot of work normally.   In other words, you won’t be able to make this exactly like your normal routine, but that’s a feature, not a bug. Make this an interesting new experience for you and your client!

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