From the MASSAGE Magazine article titled “Therapist Self-Care: Understanding Movement Patterns,” by Craig Williamson in the September 2008 issue. Article summary: Muscle tension comes not only from poor body alignment and reactions to injury and stress, but also from how we move. Learn how to move differently and free yourself from chronic restrictions.

Here are two ways you can reduce strain on your arms and hands, by using your whole body to help you.

1. When you are trying too hard to press with more force with your arms, your neck and lower back muscles will shorten, which will pull the head of the humerus in toward the shoulder joint.

If you feel this happening, imagine or feel that: A) Your spine is lengthening toward your tailbone and toward your head; and B) the space is increasing in your shoulder joints.

You may need to adjust the placement of your feet in order to do this. Using your body in this way will cause your bones to do more of the work and your muscles to do less.

2. When you are lifting up or pulling with your arms, notice if the front of your chest is narrowing. If so, it will coincide with shortening the back of your neck and rounding your upper back.

If you feel this happening, imagine or feel your neck lengthening as your chest widens across the clavicles. You may need to adjust the placement of your feet in order to do this. The result will be that your spine will be better able to help support the weight you are lifting and pulling.

—Craig Williamson

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