Category Archives: Massage Tips and Tricks

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.

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?

Video: Massage for Fibromyalgia (With Interview and Demonstration!)

If you’ve worked on more than one client with fibromyalgia, you know that this isn’t a matter of saying, “if the client has X symptom, do Y technique.” It’s more a matter of knowing what questions to ask, which alterations might help, and knowing when to err on the side of caution.

The most important question, in my opinion, is “have you ever been hurt by a massage?” This is something that I ask anyone who is medically vulnerable or who has pervasive pain, and the answer is often “yes.” From there I want to find out more about how and why. While it’s often a matter of too much pressure or too much digging, it can also have to do with improper positioning, or even quirks of the client’s unique body. The only way to avoid repeating these past mistakes is to ask! ... continue reading.

Massage Technique Video: The Sacrum Shaker (SI Joint Mobilization)

Today I share with you my weirdest massage technique: The Sacrum Shaker.

The technique itself isn’t hard, and there’s really no wrong way to do it; when I was contemplating making a video about this, I realized that the most important aspect would be demonstrating how to communicate it. How can we work near the tailbone while being certain that the client is on board? How can we introduce big dynamic movements while being sure that we’re not disrupting the client’s state of zen?

As always, the answer is open communication within the context of a therapeutic relationship. This starts from the very first moment you meet a client, or even before (for instance, does your website answer some of their questions and allay their fears?). By the time I’m talking to the client about implementing specific moves, I want to have already opened highway-wide lanes of communication. ... continue reading.