Monthly Archives: July 2015

Massage Tutorial Video: Subscapularis

New massage tutorial video! This one’s on the subscapularis muscle, the most mysterious of the rotator cuff muscles. Sandwiched between the scapula and the rib cage, it’s not easy to access. It is, however, worth the effort to address it thoroughly.

Why work with subscap? Well, it’s an internal rotator of the humerus, so it’s a big contributor to rounded shoulder posture. Imagine what would happen if, when someone presented with posture-related shoulder pain, we offered thorough work of pecs major and minor, subscap, and serratus anterior. Throw in some fascial work on the anterior and lateral thoracic region, and you’re cooking with gas!

I also strongly suspect it in many cases of frozen shoulder syndrome, especially if external rotation is extremely limited. While I don’t recommend diving in to subscap on someone with a lot of guarding in the region, it’s definitely something that you can address more and more directly as the symptoms abate. ... continue reading.

Massage Tutorial Video: Ankle Pain

New massage tutorial video! This one’s on ankle pain, but it’s also about communication and massage strategy. I included my client interview process, and I discuss how I go about working with clients who have severe pain (I don’t just dive in!). There are also plenty of techniques in there.

As you work with painful ankles, consider all of the tendons that criss-cross the joint. Tibialis anterior and posterior pass onto the medial aspect, while the fibularis/peroneus ligaments cross the lateral aspect. Think of the huge amounts of pressure that they exert with each step, and how they might not always be happy with our choice of activity and footwear. While we can get some good work done by targeting the tendons directly, they’re really the innocent bystanders in this case. By working with the hypertonic muscles that yank on those tendons, and by helping our clients find new activities and stretches that can keep those muscles happy between sessions, we can do a lot more than if we were to just focus on the joint itself. ... continue reading.

Massage Technique Video: “Finger Jiu-Jitsu”

Technique Tuesday! Today we’re doing some finger jiu-jitsu: manipulating the fingers in such a way that you can seamlessly transition between them during your massage. I also demonstrate a few different ways of gripping the hand to facilitate passive stretching during techniques. Fun! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Massage Tutorial Video: Pectoralis Major and Minor

New massage tutorial video! This one’s on the chest, specifically pectoralis major and minor. We do some anatomy and kinesiology review, and then I demonstrate some techniques for working with each muscle. It’s not strict myofascial release, but I definitely have the fascia in mind.

The major point that I want to get across about pec major is how freakin big it is. The origin is broad, giving it many directions of leverage over the humerus. That means using exceptionally broad techniques, and it means moving the arm to change the shape of the fascia as you work.

Pec minor is quite a bit smaller, but still important: A LOT of nervous tissue runs under and through it. If it’s hypertonic or irritated, it can have wide-ranging effects. While I don’t do much trigger point work in the area, I find some focused work at a myofascial angle can really get it to chill out. Sometimes a muscle just wants to be acknowledged, you know? ... continue reading.

Dealing With Your Massage-Related Injuries

You may have heard me make the claim that I’m injury-free. “I’ve been using my weird body mechanics and low tables for a decade, and I don’t have any pain to show for it.” How could that be possible? How can a massage therapist avoid all injury?


It… may have been an exaggeration. What I mean to say is that, while I’m CONSTANTLY injuring myself in new and interesting ways, I don’t have any chronic pain to show for it. It’s a matter of giving each new ache or pain the reverence they deserve, actually treating the injuries instead of ignoring them, and adapting to allow those parts to recover.

Let’s look at the last two months. I got a twinge in my thumb while doing some weird little swirling flourish thing during petrissage (I have no memory of commanding my hands to do this), and I started having pain in my wrist after allowing it to extend to an extreme angle during a high-pressure move. ... continue reading.