by Michael Alicia
Practicing massage is an athletic endeavor. We are athletes. We use our bodies daily in repetitive ways to make a living. We need to remind ourselves that in order to do this work effectively, with good humor and without pain or injury, our work begins long before we step into the treatment room. Athletes practice their sport, doing strengthening and stretching exercises, and countless drills to reinforce the muscle groups they use in their sport. They cross train to strengthen secondary muscle groups to increase output potential and decrease strain and injury. They hire trainers to put them through their paces and coaches to help them refine their form all with an eye toward maximizing their performance.
There are so many ways to practice massage with so many physical considerations. Regardless of what we practice (Swedish, sports or shiatsu) or even where we practice (on a table, on the floor, in a chair) the ergonomics of the body have a few basic mechanical considerations that when understood and adhered to can support many years of efficient pain-free massage work.
A long straight spine, flexed joints, weight transfer, a neutral shoulder girdle position are a few of the considerations that help support good body mechanics. But putting them together and training the nervous system to fire in the proper sequence is part of the “practice” of massage. A massage “coach” or teacher with an outside eye can help with form. Sports teams review game day tapes to asses performance. Following up on our first Master Class, in our second class on Feb. 22nd we will video tape therapists working and review the tapes so we can all benefit from the experience of observing each other practice and then associate what we feel when we are working with what we see to create a fuller kinesthetic understanding of our body mechanics.