resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
March, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 03
Body Mechanics and Continuing Education
By Sandy Fritz
Editor's note: Sandy Fritz, a practicing massage therapist for over 20 years, is the author of Mosby's Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage and co-author of Mosby's Basic Science for Soft Tissue and Movement Therapies and other massage textbooks such as Mosby's Massage Therapy Review.She is the owner and director of the Health Enrichment Center, Inc., School of Therapeutic Massage in Michigan, and maintains a private practice for professional football players. Sandy also provides consultation to many massage schools in development. I've spent many hours pondering how I could encourage practicing massage therapists to improve their body mechanics. Because proper use of body mechanics can enhance the longevity and success of your career, continuing education regarding body mechanics should be stressed to all massage therapists.
Most research in ergonomics had focused on elements of lifting and motion. Massage application is more about the application of compressive force. Adaptation of biomechanics for those who lift and move is counterproductive for massage application. Over and over, I hear clients ask for more pressure without being poked and jabbed. The major goal for massage is to apply an appropriate broad-based compressive force to soft tissue, using the least amount of physical effort.
Massage has become a system unto itself. The historical basis for massage was as more of an integrated system utilizing movement, exercise and massage. Seldom was massage applied for a full hour. Now the one-hour massage is the expected standard for massage professionals. Five massage sessions per day is necessary for most to achieve financial stability in a typical workweek. No wonder that a recent study by Watson (reported by Gerry Pyves in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, vol. 5, no. 3, July 2001) showed that 78% of massage professionals have experienced a work-related injury. Something must be done to help our profession. A change in paradigm about how massage is delivered is necessary. The idea that the hand is the primary delivery tool is outdated. The forearm, the flat space below the knee and the foot are better suited for sustaining the abnormal loading of the joints and repetitive movement strain on the joints and soft tissue required when giving massage.
Compressive force is applied 90 degrees in relationship to the body contact. This means that the client needs to be positioned so that you can lean against an upward slope on the body and maintain about a 45-degree angle at the shoulder. When the knee and foot are used, a 90-degree angle against the tissue can be achieved easily.
The joints need to be stacked and stable; the gliding motion should be provided by moving the feet in a forward position, instead of leaning at the waist and reaching forward. Avoid petrissage or kneading movements. The same effect can be achieved by applying compression to the tissues, then moving the adjacent joint actively or passively.
Are you asking yourself, "What can I do to improve my body mechanics?" First, be aware that there could be a problem, and the problem may not be apparent to you. Just because you have your education under your belt and practice massage does not mean you are using your body in the most efficient way.
There are many objects to consider when discussing body mechanics, including the massage table, floor mats, stools and chairs.
Is your table the proper height? As a general rule, your fingertips or first knuckle should reach the top of the table when your arms are hanging at your sides. This varies depending on if you have a long or short torso, legs or arms. If your table is a little short, you will be able to accommodate by widening your stance, but will often end up bending at the waist and developing low back fatigue. A table that is too tall will cause you to use upper muscle strength instead of leaning and using leverage to apply the compressive forces. Test your table. Are you thinking it's too tall or too short? If so, experiment to see if it feels more comfortable set at the suggested height. If it was too tall and you adjusted it, at the end of a day of practice you may feel less lethargic because you used less upper body strength. If it was too short, your back will ache. More often than not, raising the table a bit helps.
One way to notice incorrect body mechanics (besides the pain you may be feeling by the middle or end of your day) is by using a mirror to check yourself frequently in different positions:
If you were unable to notice incorrect uses of your body mechanics and think you are doing just fine, wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry? Ask a few other massage therapists to get together so you can evaluate each other. Watching each other will provide more objective feedback. If you are only doing two or three massage sessions per week, you may be able to get by with bad body mechanic habits, but if your are doing two or more massage sessions per day to total 10 massage sessions or more per week, injury will likely result.
Here are some ways to do a self-test:
You should have answered yes to the above questions. If these tips don't help, check out continuing education providers that offer classes in body mechanics or related classes. Choose your course carefully. You do not want to replace one set of bad habits for another. One place you can locate classes is on NCBTMB's website: www.ncbtmb.com. You can also call (800) 296-0664 to find CEU providers in your area.
Remember that the human body is designed for movement and range of motion, not for the compressive forces required when giving a massage. Appropriate body mechanics must be maintained to provide adequate pressure throughout the massage. Body mechanics systems that are based on movement, such as dance and martial arts systems, are not designed for the delivery of compressive force required for massage. Learning to effectively use your knees and feet while working on a mat as part of your massage applications can allow you to rest your arms and hands. Some applications of shiatsu and Chinese massage systems incorporate these applications of pressure delivery.
A well-trained massage professional should be able to effectively provide five to six massage sessions a day, five days per week, without excessive fatigue or pain. If you are unable to maintain this type of work pace, your body mechanics is the most likely cause. Take action now so that you can have the career you desire.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.