resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
November, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 11
Body Mechanics: Back to Basics
By Teresa M. Matthews, LMT, CPT
Have you ever played softball or baseball? Have you ever heard a coach tell a young player the proper way to field a ground ball? If the young player does not continue with the fundamentals of fielding a ground ball properly, they might not make it in years to come as a ball player.At first, it might not be easy to get into the right body position, but the player needs to repeat the body mechanics to perform well. We are not much different from that ball player.
Many authors have written massage texts and other books about proper body mechanics for massage therapists. They are our coaches! Getting the basic fundamentals of a proper stance and application of the stroke will allow massage professionals to work smarter, not harder, while avoiding occupational injury, stress and burnout. The term body mechanics is used to describe the optimal alignment of our body for free-flowing movement. Ease and efficiency of movement will protect us from unnecessary stress and pain. Work-related injury is a major reason why bodyworkers drop out of the massage industry. I have seen bodywork professionals develop bad habits in their treatment room over years of practice and find themselves injured or even retiring.
As a general rule, your fingertips or first knuckle should reach the top of the table when your arms are hanging at your sides. If your table is a little short, you want to widen your stance. A bad choice is to bend at the waist and develop low back fatigue. A table that is too tall will cause you to use upper muscle strength. We do not want to muscle our strokes.
When clients ask for more pressure, it is more about the application of the force and using the least amount of physical effort, without poking and jabbing. The joints need to be stacked and stable. Instead of leaning at the waist and reaching forward, let your hips bring your hands through the stroke. I find that being low in your stance allows the stroke to be at the proper angle and the depth applied without muscling it.
What You Can Do
Using your body in the most efficient way might mean that we have to strengthen our legs and core. Having a solid base, our body mechanics will take the stress off our back and arms. Two of the most common stances are the horse stance and the lunge position. Using these stances, the power and balance comes from the legs and core. The horse stance can be strengthened by performing a wall squat. The lunge position can be strengthened by doing, that's right, a lunge. For core strength, I suggest a plank. This is an isometric exercise holding a push up position.
The Position of Your Feet and Head Does Matter
Your feet should face the same direction of force being applied to the body. Low back pain will result if your foot is externally or internally rotated, such that your pelvis rotates. Your head should not drop to look down at your work, as you will experience neck, shoulder and low back tension. If your torso is twisted, you could feel muscle ache, fatigue, shoulder or low back pain. You will also want to keep your shoulders square in your stance to avoid twisting your back.
Keeping a straight back and neutral neck helps you avoid injury. Many therapists bend over a lot during their massages and use their strength to apply pressure to their clients. If you're using good body mechanics, your pressure doesn't come from your strength, it should come from your body weight. If you're bending at the elbows, your strength is coming from the wrong place. Changing old habits can be difficult, but as you improve your body mechanics, you'll notice that you'll feel less fatigue while you work. Using good posture will help you have a long massage career ahead of you.
Appropriate body mechanics must be maintained to provide adequate pressure throughout the massage. A massage professional using proper body mechanics should be able to effectively provide 15-30 massage sessions a week without excessive fatigue or pain. Take appropriate action now so you can have the long career you desire.
Teresa M. Matthews, fitness expert and world champion athlete, has 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is the president and founder of Health, Wellness & Fitness Professionals, Inc. and is the owner of Arlington School of Massage and Personal Training in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a sports massage instructor for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and was awarded the FSMTA 2009 Sports Massage Therapist of the Year award. Teresa travels the country teaching self care and wellness classes. Contact her by e-mail at
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