Of the four possible client positions, side-lying is the most often overlooked and underutilized. Those therapists who seldom use the side-lying position do themselves a disservice, since it is arguably the best position for the therapist for many techniques. It is also the most comfortable position for a large number of clients. With proper bolstering, most clients find a side-lying position more comfortable than a prone or supine position, particularly clients with large or sensitive breasts or those suffering from back or neck pain.
In this position, one entire side of the client’s body is turned toward you. Your client can easily move close to the edge of the table nearest you, so you can work without reaching out in front of you. You can remain upright nearly all of the time, maintain a near-neutral posture, and keep your wrists straight to cut down on stress to your arms and hands. Muscles located on the side of the body that would be difficult to work on with the client prone or supine are very accessible with the client on their side. You can use your forearms extensively to work with their muscles in this position, to give your hands a rest, and to achieve a broad, even stroke.
Reproduced with permission from Save Your Hands! The Complete Guide to Injury Prevention and Ergonomics for Manual Therapists, 2nd Edition , C.E.A.S., and Richard W. Goggins, C.P.E., L.M.P., © 2008 Gilded Age Press, www.saveyourhands.com.