Therapist Posture and Health

Posture and Health

Becoming a body work therapist is a rewarding and exiting carer, being able to work in a relaxed environment and meeting new people that you can help everyday is fantastic but working possibly up to 40 hours a week on your feet is going to take some extra stamina and good health.

So whether you’re working towards, or are a massage therapist, aromatherapist, sports therapist or reflexologist you now need to look upon yourselves as therapist athletes.

What can you do:

Fuel your body: Eat healthy, balanced and nutritional food to feed your muscles and fascia, you will be moving and using your muscles every day.

Stay Hydrated: Top up with water, at least 1 ½ litres of water per day, our muscles, brain, fascia and body systems all need to stay hydrated to work at optimum levels.

Take up Yoga: Just like any other job we end up moving in the same body patterns and this can lead to repetitive strain injuries. Yoga ensures our fascia lines are fully elongated and stress patterns within the muscles are less likely to grow.

Exercise: Humans were designed to move, good health means that we need to move regularly improving blood circulation and efficient use of energy. Staying physically fit and improving the tone and strength of our muscles will improve our overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Schedule a massage: Practice what you preach and get into a regular habit, we need therapy too!

Stretch: Your job can be physically demanding so before and at the end of your day, plan time to include a 5-10 minutes stretching routine, your working body and mind will thank you kindly for this.

Posture: Your posture is the way in which the body keeps itself upright against gravity. All the muscles of the body are continually adjusting to keep you upright so using the correct posture with the least amount of strain is key to being able to give treatments every day. If your posture is not correct then the techniques you use will not be performed with efficiency and the end result will be pain within your body.

Stance: When performing your treatments it is important to spread your weight evenly between both feet this will help to maintain good posture. There are 2 main stance positions for body massage- Stride stance and Walking stance , it is important to move around your client to get the best angle when working and practice with both of your arms, hands and thumbs equally.

Other Factors

Force: Use your own body weight to assist your treatments, use the couch for leverage and your body to rock back and forth to create the movements. Good body mechanics will ensure a healthy and established career as a therapist.

Stroke: Keep your hands, wrists, arms and shoulders relaxed, using our own body mechanics takes a bit of practice so in general a massage stoke is performed in an uphill stroke with one foot in front of the other but once over the hill you will lose your momentum and the possibility of over stretching starts. So reassess and take a step forward so you don’t over stretch, overstretching will start to put a strain on the lumber area of the back, glutes and legs and also change the effectiveness of your technique.

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Using our mobile devises: As therapists we spend an increasing amount of time on our smart phones, tablets and laptops. ‘Text neck’ is quickly becoming a modern day epidemic so ensure you are not putting un-necessary strain on your body

Yvonne Lockhart

Pictures: An holistic guide to Massage- Tina Parsons, Massage and Aromatherapy- Lyn Goldberg

 
Stride Stance:  Feet hip distance apart, shoulders hands and wrists relaxed, knees soft, hips forward and bottom tucked in.

Stride Stance: Feet hip distance apart, shoulders hands and wrists relaxed, knees soft, hips forward and bottom tucked in.

Walking stance:  Lunge position, knees soft, hips forward, bottom tucked in.

Walking stance: Lunge position, knees soft, hips forward, bottom tucked in.

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Table/ couch height: Adjustable couches are best for a number of reasons- a therapist needs to have the couch at the correct height to ensure the least amount of strain is put on the body when working. Too low and the therapist will stoop and develop back problems, too high and the therapist will have to stretch so you will be unable to use your body weight

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Sitting stance: Ensure both feet are flat on the floor and legs positioned in a gentle V shape, the stomach should be pulled in and bottom tucked under to help keep a neutral spines. Keep the hands, wrists and shoulders relaxed and pay attention to the tilt of your head.

Reflexology or is it just fascia ?

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As a reflexologist of 20 years I believe reflexology is much more than just fascia, but a recent article that I came across lead me to research this interesting and new element of reflexology.
When I first trained in Massage therapy and Reflexology not only where we called a 'masseuse' a term that you never here now! but fascia was unheard of, it's only in recent years that fascia has become a big deal, and rightly so.
If you are trained solely as a professional reflexologist then I would expect your knowledge of fascia is limited, only being heard of as the painful foot condition Plantar ­fasciitis.
Even as tutor of reflexology providing ITEC diplomas in Reflexology it is an area that is not yet covered and as far as I am aware not in any other reflexology training syllabus, yet it could be a very vital part of the understanding of reflexology and why reflexology can make such an impact on all the intricate systems of the body.
So on that note I have decided to dedicate this blog to my research and the exploration of fascinating fascia and reflexology.
I hope you enjoy
 

So what is fascia?

'Fascia is a 3 dimensional web connecting every structure in your entire body – from head to toe – without interruption.  It is a continuous unit, flowing from one form to the next, changing shape and tone depending on the structure it infuses with'. ( Vancouver massage therapy)
Fascia forms a whole body, continuous three-dimensional matrix of structural support around our organs, muscles, joints, bones and nerve fibres. This multidirectional, multidimensional fascial arrangement also allows us to move in multiple directions. (Myers 2001; Huijing 2003; Stecco 2009).
So basically fascia is the spaces in our body, it creates a system of where all body parts; muscles, bones, organs, skin, blood vessels.... suspend from and join to, creating an elastic matrix. With out it our bodies would have no structure or movement.


Why do we have it?

Fascia allows all the different parts of the body to slide and glide over and around each other without friction as we produce movement.
It protects the body, and keeps the internal structures of the body positioned, try taking it way and if you bent forwards to touch your toes your heart, lungs and internal organs would crash into you ribs and fall towards your head!!
It is one complete system that interacts and interconnects with every other system of the body, possibly a very real reason why holistic therapies work so well, holistic therapies teach us to look at our entire body and not just the effected area.


What's it made from?

Fascia is made of 3 main components:
Elastin – stretchy material that can stretch and recoil a bit like a rubber band.

Collagen- An extremely tough material which shows a large amount of tactile strength, the more collagen fibres that are tightly woven the stronger and tougher the fascia in that area will be.

A thick lubricating gel like glue substance sometimes referred to as Matrix or ground substance, this gluey goo has the ability to absorb impact; acting as a shock absorber for the body, its vital organs and the structures that it surrounds­ it is pliable, flexible and strong.

Fascia is made up of 80% water, dehydrated tissue will become hard and inflexible and hydrated tissue will be soft and pliable, yet another very good reason that we should stay hydrated, it makes our movement easier.

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The interrelation between fascia and reflexology

The fascial system is one continuous unit form the top of your head to the tip of your toes, each part of the body is connected to the other by fascia.

 

By looking at the picture of the tensigral structure you can see that if pressure is applied it effects all the other parts of the whole. Imagine this as the human body;  A common example would be, leaning forward across your desk typing away at your lap top, head dropped forward. In this position all body parts are crushed,­ digestion and thoracic, the fascia line form the toes to the head is going to be extremely taught and tight. With all nerves and circulation integrated into the fascia system being effected. This in turn will limit the movement and functions of the human body.

Computer posture fascia

So what about Reflexology?

Reflexology works the entire body via nerve pathways and universal energy lines.
But if you work on the fact that the entire body is a complete entity connected by fascia with suspended organs encapsulated by fascia which in turn touch muscles and skin and everything in between. Then by working the feet through reflexology techniques you are indeed through the fascia that is rooted in the feet, touching and relaxing the entire bodies fascia system, promoting well being, ease of movement and vitality.  

So in conclusion, I do believe that reflexology does in fact does touch our soul, with the vertical zones, reflexology map and its positioning of the reflex points being very relative to the fascia web that interconnects and suspends all body parts. The Fascia system is an incredibly sophisticated area of expertise, but I feel it is one that as reflexologists we should have an understanding of and embrace, which ultimately gives our client an exceptional treatment

Happy Reflexing

Yvonne Lockhart