This is me…trying to be brief and relevant. Part of our conversation on Saturday morning evolved around body mechanics. My main point was that instead of being the voice outside the head saying when and what to shift to avoid resultant pain, let’s try for bodily awareness. Sure, I have my role to play, but given that the body follows the mind, it would be excellent to be mindful of ourselves, thus using the internal voice to guide our movements. Instead of possibly developing a sense of irritation at my promptings, the student can choose to become aware of his/her movements, responses, sensation and feelings, and their potential to affect his/her health.
This carries over because we become more self-observant, not only while doing a massage, but in everyday life as well. We spend much of our time in the past or future, so we will be re-training ourselves to stay in the present and this has beautiful benefits. We will certainly acquire more information about ourselves and how we do our work, and we will naturally make healthy choices between body mechanics that precede injury and body mechanics that prevent injury.
While working we can try asking ourselves questions like: Is my back comfortable? Am I balanced on both feet? Is my hip rotated backward or forward? Are my knees slightly bent? Are my shoulders held up, down, forward or backward? My head, is it tilted to one side? Am I holding my breath? We can make up questions as we go along, and eventually we will realise, if we did not realise before, that gravity is going nowhere fast, so we need to assume the best possible posture that would allow it to work in our favour rather than against us. When we learn to work with gravity our flexibility, endurance, balance, and sensitivity increase. There is also less exhaustion and pain afterwards because our muscles would not have had to compensate for the awkward position in which we moved our skeleton, but would have been used more effectively in moving our bodies with ease and comfort.
I think it was early this month, a Therapist came by for a massage and spoke a bit of her painful arm/shoulder. She takes her massage table to her clients. Well, first she has to get it from her home to the car. She lives upstairs. So going down the stairs to the car, and up the stairs from the car is a job in itself. If there are stairs to climb at her client’s place, that gets added. If outcalls are done several times per week, we should keep her in prayer. Are we getting tips for praying? Repetitive strain injury sounds like a natural progression. In class we have spoken of managing stress. That is stress and it definitely needs to be managed, but management could mean an increase in cost to the client, which is never welcomed. Whether she hires someone to do the lifting, or she adopts a gym routine that increases the muscle mass and strength of her arms, she will have to figure that out.
Trekking a table around is not my thing. That has been frowned upon, but it is not a critical tool of the trade. Well, unless you have back pain, knee pain, or the likes. To administer a massage we need hands, arms, and legs. If I show up for a job without those I would certainly understand the client being disgruntled. From a broader perspective, the most important tool is our entire body. Going back to that talk of body mechanics…it is how we move our entire body, how we position our joints, and how we integrate rhythm that helps to create a successful (pain-free) outcome. Our quirks, like using a particular hand more because it is stronger, do not disappear overnight. So it helps to have those mental questions going to keep us aware enough not to overwork one side of the body.
For those who are seriously into physiology, the hands are a miracle. Think of how much they have adapted…if our various evolutionary states are to be considered. Our hands perform numerous functions, and some of the delicate and refined skills they execute now might not have been possible during our earlier existence. And for all their remarkability, the hands do not like to bear weight for long so we have to be careful with the application of pressure or the wrists tend to suffer. The carpal bones are delicate and delicately positioned so one might pop up, or the median and/or ulnar nerves can become impinged, or a constantly extended wrist might become quite unstable. Do we now cease to do heel of the hand pressure? I think not. Lower that table a bit, keep the wrist and forearm aligned, and use body weight to increase pressure. And let’s not underestimate the mischief the fingers can make. The flexors and extensor suffer the consequences of their actions. All that busy-busy finger movement can leave the forearms stiff, strained, and tired.
It’s easy to think of body mechanics as how we stand or lean, but it goes from micro to macro. The thumbs are another sensation. We automatically know we can use them to apply pressure. Correct. With one less joint they are more stable than the other fingers, but still should be used with some support, if not, common sense should tell us to limit our application of pressure to small or thin muscles for short periods. We can go on like this from hand to forearm to elbow to upper arm, etc. And my argument is that it does not have to be big stick method. We can mentally walk through each section of our body searching for tension and do something about what we find.
For that shoulder pain from fetching around the massage table, I was thinking that the Therapist could keep her activities fun by trying some counterbalance moves. I’m not sure whether she’s a beach person. If she is not she might still be able to try some surf-boarding at home. Beyonce’s version. She has a husband.