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Page 9a - Working down

Introductory massage certificate course

From above the head

pull_up_ribss

1. Don't try to reach like this, sliding between the ribs is best done from the opposite side and this approach may be uncomfortable for you.

Many people begin their massage this way and it's good a good approach for easing upper back, neck and shoulder stresses. While its more ergonomic for your body, it's not as effective at connecting and balancing the entire back as you can't deal adequately to the hips.

As with page 3, start softly and increase pressure as the person is comfortable and get regular feedback.

Various techniques:

  1. Reverse effleurage (primary strokes) to assess and give a sense of completeness
  2. On the return stroke, contour arounbd the shoulders, through the back sides of the neck and out over the scalp as a start finish.
  3. Knewading into th tops of the shoulders and sides of the neck
  4. Hand over hand strokes to warm the back and it just feels nice.
  5. Use the heels of your hands to connect into the muscles between the spine and shoulder blade.
    • Press the body of the muscle away from the spine instead of sliding over the skin.
    • You don't have much space here and for those who are very tight, you can adjust the arm positions as when you were doing the back on page 5.
  6. Detailed rubbing between spine and shoulder blades and on the shoulder blades.
  7. Reverse primary thumb strokes
  8. Work into the shoulder blades with your thumbs.
    • For most folk, you can work both together as in image 3 and stroking down on the different angles to fully cover the entire surface area of the shoulder blades.
    • Remember here to keep your elbows into your waist and lean in with your body weight. This helps prevent you straining your thumbs.
  1. Pull back into the ridge at the base of the skull
  2. Massage the skull ridge firmly as the person is comfortable with
  3. Massage the back of the head.
    • In particular if their neck is sore or if the get headaches, be meticulous in your detail into the neck and back skull even though it just feels like bone.
  4. Use your knuckles or palms to slide down the sides of the neck and out over to the shoulders.
  5. Press / feel into the spaces between the shoulder bones (between the clavicle (collarbone) and the scapula (shoulder blade).
  6. Kneading the sides of the neck and traps. Circles with fingertips often feels nice.
  7. Using your fingers and thumbs to pull up the sides of the neck as shown in the video below,
    • this is often done when you're doing the detailed shoulder work as part of the routine on page 6.
    • But when people have tight or sore necks, this can be done at various intervals.
  8. When you do your final effleurage,
    • think that as you push down the back, you are releasing stress,
    • then as you pull back up the sides,
    • think/feel that you are collecting all the negative energy and pulling it up out of the body.
    • The evenness of your contouring is important here and you continue through the neck take care not to drop that energy and pull it up over the head and throw it away behind you.
    • This a powerful technique and when done well brings a great sense of relief to the client.

Other techniques include:

  • Percussion; tappotement and hacking over the shoulders.
  • Sliding your fingers up and down the channels beside the spine
  • On tight people, alternate pressing the shoulders toward the hips
  • Stroking out the arms

Remember this video is a brief demonstration, spend a few minutes or more here. Remember; always learn in to the person with your body weight and keep your arms soft. This helps prevent you straining your thumbs and keeps them more comfortable.

The Jen Hillman approach:

push3

For contrast, here is a slightly different approach doing the entire back from above the head with some nice techniques and explanations. Don't be concerned about the distinction made between Swedish and deep tissue, this is simply semantics. My main concern here is that the hips/buttocks are excluded from the back massage which opens the door for the person to get an acute back pain.

Learn in and rotate your thumbs over the shoulder blades. I find it's better to stand a little more upright than depicted in the right image. Then I can lean into the person more easily which takes less effort although sometimes a different position helps to find the 'right angle' to the muscles.

A more relaxed but similar video from Jen.

Jen at time looks as if she is pressing on te soine, but she's not. She does not say, but she is close in and moving between the spine and the muscle.

View  the entire back massage

Neck muscles

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