This is ostensibly about abdominal self-massage (it even includes 5 different techniques!), but it’s really about getting back into the therapeutic headspace.
As you might imagine, I made this one for myself. I haven’t started back yet thanks to some resurgence here in the South, but every time I get back to the planning phase I think, “do I even know how to do massage any more? Where would I start?” In my head I try to play back a whole massage all at once, along with all the techniques and draping and communication that requires, and it feels overwhelming.
But then I remember this: It all starts with one touch. If I can do that, then the rest follows. Trying to game out every moment, or imagine everything that could go wrong, those are barriers that we put up to flow. The essence of massage is self-sustaining and self-guiding, with the interplay of hand and body showing you the way. If we simply make that first contact and then get out of the way, the rest can easily follow.... continue reading.
This week’s video is on self-treatment for wrist pain. It’s specifically for massage therapists, but I imagine there’s some good info in there for other people.
The information in this video should be pretty safe for any non-traumatic wrist injury, whether it’s a persistent ache after increasing your daily workload, or pain following a “tweak” during a deep pressure massage. I talk about stretching, strengthening, and self-massage, as well as a basic timeline for your recovery. If your pain sticks around despite treatment, feels unusual, or gets worse, do see a medical professional.
Other than the treatment stuff, I mostly emphasize rest. Now, it’s hard to imagine resting your wrists while continuing your massage practice, but it’s possible. You’ll need to find ways to reduce the proportion of your massage where you’re applying palmar pressure. If it’s currently 50%, we need to get you down to half that, or less, for the recovery period.
That means digging into your toolbox and using techniques that you use less frequently. Increase the amount of open fist techniques (if your wrist can tolerate them comfortably), and forearm use. Try specific pressure with well-supported fingers and thumbs. Switch tools frequently, before fatigue sets in, so that you don’t create any new overuse injuries while you’re adapting.
When you do use your palms, try to use them in ways less likely to cause pain. Listen to that pain, and let it tell you what positions are perilous for your unique anatomy. It usually helps to apply palmar pressure with less wrist extension, and with the weight distributed more evenly across the palm. You can layer one palm atop the other and apply the same amount of pressure using half the force with each arm.
As you recover, you can definitely bring palmar moves back! This will be after weeks of self-work, stretching, and strengthening, and you’ll have a more powerful base of force and stability than what you started with. Just reintegrate the moves gradually, and keep an eye on that wrist angle.
What do you think, gang? Have you hurt your wrists while doing massage? Have you done it repeatedly, like I did in my early career? What changes have you made to get yourself back in the game?
P.S. As you can see in the video, I… may be selling shirts again 🙂 They’ll be available until September 8th! https://represent.com/massage-sloth
Hey, how about a nice self-care video? Today, I show you how to use my favorite self-massage technology, the foam roller. It’s great for working out the back and shoulder tightness that can creep in after a long work week, and it really puts you in touch with that “ironing out” sensation that I talk about so much:
The use of a foam roller is also a skill, and it’s one that you can pass on to your clients. As I say in the video, a lot of your most athletic clients (your triathletes, for examples), will already have one of these things… and they’ll probably be using it to abuse their already painful legs. They’ll be digging in to their vastus lateralus in a vain attempt to lengthen a painful IT band, when really all they need is some work in their hips. We can help point them in the right direction!
What do you think of foam rolling? Have you tried it in the past, but found it too painful? Do you think that you could alter it to make it a nice, easy steam-rolling experience?
Also, what do you think about recommending self-massage for your clients? Is that something that you feel comfortable doing? For those who do, have your clients found it useful?
Much love to my 64 Patreon supporters, and to every active member of this community. More fun stuff is coming!
Got hurt thumbs? Want to give an entire massage without using your thumbs, even once? Check out my new tutorial video:
You guys know that I’m a proponent of the “thumb vacation” when you’ve got pollex pain. If it acts like an injury, it needs to be treated like one: Rest, inflammation management, and rehabilitation. You wouldn’t tell a client with a hurt knee to “keep doing what you were doing,” so why do we treat ourselves with any less kindness?
The tricky part is implementation. How do I do petrissage? How will I apply deep pressure to certain areas, or scoop up muscles that beg to be scooped? In the video, I demonstrate some strategies that I’ve developed while my own thumbs were out of the game.
It will feel awkward the first few days, no doubt about it. Your flow will be off, and you might feel like you’re giving a worse massage. Don’t psych yourself out! Your clients will love the new techniques (you’re still the amazing therapist that they know and love), and you’ll find yourself coming up with some pretty exciting massage technology as you ease into it. In the end, it’s a great time to force yourself to innovate and broaden your repertoire.
Do you feel like you could make do without your thumbs for a few weeks? Are there any areas where you think the thumbs are irreplaceable? Let’s talk about it! I’d also like to hear your favorite ways of either de-emphasizing your thumbs or replacing them for different applications.