What's Your Movement Quotient?, MASSAGE MagazineTo complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Practical Movement,” by Deborah Kimmet, L.M.T., C.N.M.T., B.C.T.M.B., in the November 2013 issue. Article summary: When clients are in pain, they tend to move in dysfunctional ways. Practical Movement consists of motions that retrain the nervous system to restore proper movement patterns. Practical Movement helps a massage therapist choose movements based on treatment goals. Movement choice depends on such factors as a client’s muscle strength, ability to maintain balance, injury level and what aspect of the muscle is to be lengthened.

Do you serve clients who have sedentary jobs or lifestyles? If so, you are probably familiar with the toll that inactivity or long hours of repetitive tasks takes on their bodies. Perhaps you work with athletes contending with chronic injury from repetitive use. After you have cleared their pain and restrictions, you might recommend they add movement or stretching into their daily routine to help mitigate the side effects of their daily patterns.

Movement is a fundamental aspect of how massage effects change in the body. For example, rocking sedates the nervous system and eases a nervous first-time client; effleurage increases venous and lymphatic circulation; and percussion stimulates or sedates muscle tone or the nervous system.

In focusing on what is most beneficial for a client’s body, it can be easy to forget about the other body in the room. Like your client’s sedentary postures or repetitive use, static massage postures can lead not only to congestion and pain in your own tissue, but also to a weary mental perspective at the end of a long day.

Stationary standing or sitting, or working in odd positions, is as detrimental to you as your client’s habitual patterns are to them.

Test your own movement quotient by answering these questions:

  • When standing during a session, what percentage do you estimate you are standing still, not moving from your feet or hips?
  • When sitting, what percentage do you estimate you are sitting still, only moving from your arms or hands?

Are you surprised by your answers? Could you use less idleness and more movement?

Try these tips to create more energy, improve your circulation, and make your work easier and more fun:

1. Re-ignite your massage dance groove. When standing, consciously move more from your feet, allowing the fluidity to translate through your body and through your client.

2. Do seated work on an exercise ball. This will add a whole new dimension of movement to your work. Rocking on a height-appropriate and correctly inflated ball, and translating that energy from your feet through you and your client, creates greater ease for you and a soothing, effective treatment for him. Stretching out your low back on it is an added bonus.

If it is time to shake up your massage, learning how to use movement effectively can add fun and energy to your practice.

Kathleen Gramzay, L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B, is the developer and National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved continuing education provider of Kinessage® Massage Through Movement and Kinessage® Self-Care for Therapists (www.kinessage.com). She also owns Knead for Balance Inc. in Scottsdale, Arizona.