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Page 5 - Detailed Thumbs

Introductory massage certificate course

Work Across the Body

back_7aaWorking across the body is a warmer and friendlier option than working the body side that you're standing. It is also ergonomically more sound and easier on your body as you can at times lean your thighs and body weight on the table.

Do one side of the body, them walk around to do the other side.

Detailed Thumb Work

At this point if you are following the sequence in the previous pages, you have completed the primary and secondary effleurage, the primary and secondary thumb strokes and you have a good idea of the areas of softness and tightness in the persons back.

Here we are focussing on the buttock and outer hip on the side opposite to where you are standing.  The hips are where you often find a great deal of tension as this is an area where energy is transferred between the torso and legs.

  1. Begin with firm thumb pressure over the hips followed by
  2. kneading along the entire side of the body,
  3. treating the shoulder area and then
  4. connecting the entire side of the body with the side flow strokes.

Sun strokes over the hips:

Remember the idea of the sun rays over the sacrum and you draw out the rays.  Image one right shows the approximate lines of movement with your first stroke aiming toward the sitting bone or the point where the leg joins the hip.

  1. Sun strokes - Place your thumb - on the hand closest to the persons head on the very top middle of the sacrum illustrated where the arrowed lines commence as in image 1 above right.
  2. Using firm pressure, slide your thumb down over the inside centre of the buttock toward the top centre of the thigh.
    Use your other hand to steady your working thumb by holding your wrist.
    In image 2 below right, this would be the second or third stroke.
  3. back_7bWith each successive stroke, slide your thumb to cover the entire outer hip as indicated by the arrows in image 1 above.
  4. Continue radiating strokes outward until you reach the top of the pelvis - usually 5 - 8 strokes and often there will be some minor discomfort, so soften the pressure to suit.
    Complete 2 or 3 sets of these strokes 
    Tenderness in this area is indicative of back aches.
    For now you're just working on the side away from you and you do the other hip later.

Pulling back, deep petrissage

  1. As in image 3 below, when you've complete the last out stroke over  the hip, bunch your fingertips and slide them firmly side to side and or round and round to cover the entire outer hip & buttock area.
  2. Take  care not to press too hard on the top of the thigh bone and can you feel/identify the edge of the sacrum?
  3. Optional - Wax on wax off thumbs out over the hip and up the length of the back

Pull towards you to really stir this area and then smooth out if tender.

When working on someone's bum, it feels uncomfortable if you part their bum cheeks, so make your firmer strokes toward the centre of the body.

Kneading and/or wringing

knneadThis connects the area of the hips you have been working on with the rest of the back including the shoulders which is the next area of focus.

  1. Kneading - petrissage
    Having completed the hip and buttock area, as in the image right,  knead along line 1 into the arm pit, then keep that action going and follow the mid body line 2 back to the hip and the 3rd line takes you up to knead into the top shoulder and neck where at this point it's generally easier to step closer to the persons head. Detail

Upper back & Shoulders

You are primarily treating between the spine and shoulder blades, here you are using fingertip pressure and it helps to place the fingertips of one hand on top of the other. This image right with the shaded area in yellow is the main area of focus and here you can combine strokes so you are rubbing and exploring with the fingers of one hand resting on the other fingers:

  1. Circular rubbing over the area
  2. Rub vertically up and down  and back and forth on every angle, between the spine,  shoulder blades and top shoulders
  3. Slide your fingers between the ribs.
  4. Effluerage the area briefly

Typically the person you are treating will have their arms on the table, so when you have competed the above movements, lift the elbow out as in the image below and repeat all.

You can further move the arm above the head and repeat all these rubbing strokes as  these actions alters the position of the shoulder-blade and the supporting muscles so when you massage again, you have a slightly different effect making the treatment more effective.
For anyone with tight shoulders,  upper back stress and or neck pain and headaches, this is an effective treatment for helping to release some of that pressure/ stress.

Then tie that side of the body back together with a side sweep and you can follow all this on page 8.

Side Sweep

This is a lovely finishing set of strokes that can be done at least three times and more.  You've just completed the work around the shoulders and are standing toward the shoulders when you.

  1. Lean and slide your hands & arms out either side of the shoulder blade until you are almost leaning on your elbows then
  2. Slide back so your hands mould into the arm and shoulder then
  3. Keeping the heel of your hand (the one closest the persons head) close to the spine and the other hand so your finger are almost under the body
  4. Lean your own body weight back and slide your hands down and over the hip - like in a tug of war.  This stretches the side of the body and feels great
  5. Slide your outside/ lower hand up over the hip to bring your foot side fingers under the head side hand and slide firmly up along the side of the spine and when you get to the shoulders
  6. Lean and slide your hands & arms out either side of the shoulder blade until you are almost leaning on your elbows then repeat the series a few times.
  7. Ensure you encompass / cover the entire side of the body  and after the final sweep, walk around to do the other side and if you need to, adjust, or lift  the arm you moved to do the shoulder work back to a more comfortable location.
Rotating thumbs technique variation


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