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…

Let me know what you think! Was any of this useful for you? Do you have tips on thumb use that new massage therapists could benefit from? Am I crazy to be using my thumbs after all? More to come!

2 thoughts on “How to (safely!) use your thumbs for massage

  1. This was very helpful! I am a student therapist at the moment, at when I am in clinic I like to use thumbs because it allows me to be more precise and to be in more control of the pressure I apply – I am aware of the issues with that so I am excited to apply some of your tips!

    I also like to apply the last technique you mentioned – supported thumbs – when working around the scapula… I tend to reinforce the thumb with the other hand’s thenar eminence ….

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