By using our weight more, we use our muscles less. That might mean changing our foot position, finding ways to use gravity as a tool, or getting a straight vector of force over the client.

The most effective way to use our weight (instead of our strength) is to use our whole body for every stroke, even the little ones.

Getting the whole body behind the stroke might mean changing foot placement. For example, if you are covering a large area of the body and going from one height to another, planting your feet in a fixed stance is going to pull on ligaments and destroy the effectiveness of the stroke. Balancing on one foot and moving off of the other gives the stroke three-dimensionality. This gives our bodies a greater range of movement and can focus the body’s weight in the direction of the stroke.

To get our weight over the client so we can use gravity, we can change our height. A step, or some high heel clogs you can slip into will give us the added inches when we are working on the highest parts of the client.

Excerpted from The Ultimate Hand Book: Self-Care for Bodyworkers and Massage Therapists, by Maja Evans, C.M.T., D.H.