Tag Archives: myofascial release

Massage Tutorial Video: 4 Myofascial Stretches

Want to make your massage client “feel taller,” all while delivering some feel-good meditative contact? Check out my new tutorial video:

Really, these are all just simple table stretches; the trick is in their delivery. They feel good done briefly, but interesting stuff starts happening when you slow down and let your hands do some listening. I find these to be opportunities to connect with my client, and they’re excellent ways of opening or closing a massage!

In fact, let’s talk more about how to end a massage. What do you do to let your clients know that the session has reached its end? This can be verbal or non-verbal. Looking forward to your thoughts!

Massage Video: Working with Shoulder Pain After Surgery

Here’s a new video about how I work with postsurgical shoulder pain. I talk about my strategy, and I demonstrate specific techniques for working gently from a myofascial perspective:

I’d like to highlight something that’s changed for me in my practice: While I do explore the client’s range of motion, I do my best to avoid those painful end-points. Over the course of my career, I’ve found that mobilization can work just as well (or better!) when it’s done painlessly. If done patiently and with good communication, it can be a way of demonstrating to the client that safe movement is possible. I’ve frequently had clients stand up with a greater comfortable range of motion despite the fact that I didn’t try to increase that ROM on the table!

I’ve also started erring on the side of less specific work during that first session, especially in areas that are prone to guarding or spasm. That specific stripping and trigger point work can still be incorporated in future sessions, but by working broadly at first, I can help the client gradually get used to movement and contact without provoking spasm or next-day tightness.

Let me know what you think! Is there anything that you’d add or do differently? Did I finally drone on for too long during a video? 🙂

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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!

How do you approach sciatica pain? Are there techniques or routines you’ve developed over the years that have proven more effective than what you learned in school? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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 Tutorial Video: How to massage a “crick in the neck”

New massage tutorial video! This one’s on working with stiff necks, or “neck cricks.” As always, I come at this from a myofascial perspective, rather than trying to stretch the kink out or “break up knots.” I do a quick anatomy review of levator scapulae, and then I demonstrate my protocol on a client:

This is one of the few areas where I feel like massage can “fix” acute pain in one or two sessions. If I work slowly and give this area the time it needs, I can typically help them stand up from the experience with much of their range of motion restored.

I think that the “neck crick” phenomenon exemplifies one of reasons why massage is so useful. A little muscle in our neck gets irritated, and suddenly we have a huge amount of impairment. Rather than feeling like a spasm, it can often feel like a bone is out of place, which is a scary sensation. Suddenly, many of our tasks of daily living become more difficult, and even sleep can be out of reach.

Through massage, we can interface with the body and the nervous system and let them know that this crisis is a bit overblown. By gently introducing movement, and by using kind systematic touch to convey the message that all is well, we can defuse a scary situation.

Think about how this applies to all areas of pain. By putting the client back in touch with their own body, we can remove the fear of movement that often just perpetuates the impairment, and we can get the client thinking in terms of their whole body rather than their “bad back” or “bad ankle.”

I’d love to hear what you think! How’s your success rate with neck cricks, and what’s your strategy like? If you end up trying this approach, let me know how it goes!