All posts by Ian Harvey

How to (safely!) use your thumbs for massage

I know there’s been a movement to reduce thumb use in the massage world, but I think that there are a lot of effective ways to use them without risking injury.
The secret? Follow your natural ergonomics rather than trying to force your thumbs to do movements they don’t want to do:

Find positions of power and stability and let those guide your tool use and body mechanics. In the video, I demonstrate ways to strip, compress, and petrissage that should feel fairly easy and intuitive. Reduce or eliminate the effortful circular movements that seem to find their way into a lot of Swedish routines, and instead rely on stacked joints and body weight.

Something that I neglected to say in the video: Switch tools early and often. Don’t wait until you’re feeling fatigue in your thumbs or wrists before you switch. Instead, anticipate your limits and change things up frequently enough that your muscles never tire. By doing this, the only part of your body that should be tired at the end of the day are your feet 🙂 And that reminds me, I need to make a video on how to sit more during a session… ... continue reading.

New Massage Sloth CE Workshops!

I’m back to teaching! I’m offering my 16 credit hour course for massage therapists called “Myofascial Swedish” twice in the coming months: In Pensacola, FL on August 5-6, and in Huntsville, AL on September 9-10. You can find out more (and sign up right online) by going here: https://massagesloth.com/ce/ This course is NCBTMB, Florida, and New York approved.

What is Myofascial Swedish? It’s a way for Swedish practitioners to slow down and add some fascial drag to their techniques. It’s a way for myofascial practitioners to get their flow back and bring some feel-good Swedish spirit to their routine. No matter your approach, we’ll practice using gravity to drive our techniques, and we’ll focus on bringing the body together instead of dividing it apart. When you leave you’ll have useful new routines for working with pain conditions in the back, shoulder, jaw, and hips (and everything you need to make your own routines). I’d love to answer questions about it below, so hit me up in the comments! ... continue reading.

Guided Meditation for Sleep (with soothing massage voice)

Let me know what you think! More like this? Stick to massage, for Heaven’s sake? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Video: Self-massage for Singers

I’ve spent the last year going slightly mad, and also watching lots of vocal coaching on YouTube. Over that time I’ve been using self-massage to keep my throat happy and healthy, which I talk about here:

Mostly this is an excuse to get back into gear with an easy video, but I’d love feedback from singers! For massage therapists: If you’ve got singers, public speakers, Twitch streamers, or other professionals who give their vocal cords frequent high-intensity workouts, just realize that you don’t need to target any muscles specifically, and that work in the area doesn’t need to be a direct confrontation. By engaging the superficial fascia on and around the anterior neck and putting it into traction, you’re sending powerful stretch signals to the spinal cord, both from the fascia, and from the embedded muscles. Just by dragging skin up along the track of the SCMs, you’re putting the extrinsic laryngeal muscles under traction. By going slowly here, you can send a signal that these muscles can reduce their tone — and in doing so, you can give your clients a better internal feel for these muscles. They might even use that awareness to prevent strain in the future! ... continue reading.

Dealing with Self-Doubt as a Massage Therapist

Do you deal with self-doubt as a massage therapist? When you work with a new client, do you spend the whole time convinced that it’s the worst massage ever? Then this video is for you:

This is an edited version of a previous livestream, now with 75% fewer tangents and pauses. There’s also a nice guided meditation at the end, now with soothing music 🙂

I give tips on getting out of negative head loops in this video, but there’s something that I don’t really address: “What if my massage actually sucks? Like, what if I’m a legitimately bad massage therapist?” You know why I don’t address that? Because it’s not true. In fact, it’s damn near impossible.

Massage can be exceptional for a lot of reasons, many of them having to do with experience and intuition. But for a massage to just be “really good,” all you need are a few simple ingredients: ... continue reading.