Video: 6 Tips for a Better Massage

Here it is: A distillation of everything I’ve learned about massage since massage school, and how to really nail down that feeling of “flow.”

These tips might seem rather simple, but I invite you to take them, one at a time, into your upcoming sessions and see what changes happen.

These are all really about giving a mindful massage. What message are my hands sending when I place them on the body? When I remove them? How am I allowing my focus to change the quality of my touch in areas that I’m thinking about versus everywhere else?

My favorite tip, and the one that is probably most difficult to implement, is the last one: “Put yourself in your client’s place.” This one is difficult to describe because it feels like being in two places at once. While staying connected with your hand and its actions, what is their shoulder feeling? Can I feel it in my shoulder? ... continue reading.

Tutorial Video: Shoulder Massage With Arm Manipulation

This is one of my favorite things: cradling the arm while working with the shoulder girdle.

From the client’s perspective, it feels floaty and stretchy and satisfying. For me, it means working with the traps, pecs, and rotator cuff from lots of angles with varying degrees of stretch. Once you’re done, the entire region should feel quite a bit warmer and looser, all without having to work too hard.

Some quick tips that I didn’t cover in the video:

  • If your client’s arm is “floating” (i.e., if they’re trying to help or just can’t relinquish control), it can be useful to pin their arm to your torso. This might be too far into some people’s personal space, so it’s a good idea to get informed consent first. For me it sounds like this: “Do you mind if I sandwich your arm between my arm and my torso?”
  • I demonstrate using a soft fist on the lateral scapula to work with the teres muscles; realize that this and the pec work can easily be done through the drape if your client would otherwise be uncomfortable.
  • This is just the beginning! Once you become fluent in this arm rocking business, you can incorporate similar things in side-lying and even prone massage. There are applications to leg and hip work too, but I’ll leave that for another video 🙂

By the way, there’s ANOTHER new video out today, just for the folks kind enough to support me directly on Patreon. It’s about places to pour your pressure on the pelvis, which is stuff I learned from Thai massage and shiatsu. A great way to round out hip work.

Let me know what you think in the comments! I’d especially love some trip reports from people who try this out. Did you have any difficulty working like this? Were the transitions easy enough, or were they awkward? Did you come up with any other cool stuff to do from this position? ... continue reading.

Massage Technique Video: Alternating Shoulder Press

This is a great way to start out your neck work, or to start your session. It’s a gentle way of introducing movement to the neck without saying a word, and it creates some myofascial stretching that feels really profound!

A couple of quick tips: Keep the palmar surfaces of your hands close to the client’s skin as you press and scoop. If you can keep your skin travelling along their skin, it will help this feel like a natural rock instead of a “press, press, press” sensation. Let this movement come from your hips, allowing your torso to rock from side to side.

This can also feel great without any oil at all, allowing yourself to move much more slowly and play with moving the fascia rather than doing much travelling across the skin.

Let me know what you think! Some cool things are in store, so stay tuned 🙂 ... continue reading.

Overcoming the Inertia of the Body

I’d like you to try a quick thought experiment: Imagine doing one intense workout in the course of a month. You charge yourself up, you break through your mental block, and you finally go to that fitness bootcamp you’ve been dreading. You lay it all on the line, and you kick butt. What effects will this have on your health?

Over the short term, there will be huge effects. Protein synthesis and catabolism will both be through the roof. You might burn in excess of a thousand calories, prompting significant lipolysis. You’ll spend a couple of hours bathed in adrenaline, and then you’ll get some feel-good chemicals in the aftermath.

Over the long term, what is the effect of a single intense workout over the course of a month? Probably… nothing at all. A single workout isn’t capable of moving the needle on your scale, let alone prompting lasting physical changes in your body, or biochemical changes in your brain. Why? Because of negative feedback. Because of the inertia of homeostasis. When your body notices big changes in your blood, it releases hormones to counteract that. When your sympathetic nervous system is in an unusual state of overdrive, it will tip the balance in the other direction until you can relax and digest. ... continue reading.

Massage Technique Video: The Lumbar Steamroller

Massage therapists, I present to you one of my favorite techniques. Why do I like it so much? Well, it’s easy to apply once you get the hang of it, and it gets me more “oh wow” comments than just about any other move. Give it a try, share with your colleagues, and let me know what you think in the comments!

I’ve got another technique video coming up next week, and then… I don’t know! What would you like to see me cover next?