What Are Body Mechanics Anyway?

Body Mechanics in massage therapy is the effective positioning and use of your body to avoid excess pressure on your hands and arms. It is an important factor to your 'massage longevity'! Every time we teach a Couples Massage Class, someone says, "After two minutes massaging her/his neck, I feel like my hands are going to fall off, but I want to be able to do it longer, because it helps her/him feel better." THIS is the key to how to give a massage that is relaxing for both of you, and not developing your own repetitive strain injury at the same time!

Positioning your Partner

First, the most important thing is having the receiver of the massage in the right position. Their positioning is a key factor in effective body mechanics. A massage table or massage chair will allow for ideal positioning, which is why we use them in our work. If you don't have either of those, the floor works, and you certainly have one of those. My friend, when she was in massage school YEARS ago, gave me a massage on her dining room table (be sure it's a sturdy one!!) with an egg crate on it for cushioning. Depending on how tall you are, that may or may not work...I'm including it for reference, but am not sure if I would suggest it or not. :)

If your partner's on the floor, the body mechanics get a bit more precarious, particularly if you have bum knees or a challenging lower back, but these suggestions should help.

1) Pillows under the giver's knees will help cushion on a hard floor. Having a ton of pillows around for propping here and there is really helpful.

2) The key to making this work, is not using your arm strength by muscling the massage, but leaning into your partner and using the weight of your upper body as leverage...care really must be taken to not apply too much pressure at 'endangerment sites'. These are places that there's a lot of nerves, veins or arteries, or joints which could be damaged.

3) If kneeling on both knees and leaning forward is too much on your back, try kneeling on one knee and doing a slight kneeling lunge to move your body weight instead of your torso strength. That body mechanics trick should help to make the leaning over a bit more comfortable.

4) Be aware of how YOUR body feels. If you are leaning over too much to work on their arm or hand, you can sit down and put their arm on your leg, or in your lap.

5) Breathe. Keep your body centered and strong. Always work within your partner's comfort, but be sure to not hurt yourself trying to apply more pressure than you are comfortable with.

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