Psoas

Oct. 24th, 2009 06:26 pm
kimberkit: (Default)
You know, I never knew that the iliopsoas -- the primary set of hip flexors in your body, the one that allows you to bend forwards, walk, and would be quite tasty if you were a cannibal -- was the first muscle to develop in utero. (Illustration of the iliopsoas here) It is why is so intimately connected with our flight-or-fight reactions, so linked in to the state of our stress and nerves. When you hear the words, "...and then my back suddenly gave out," you bet that iliopsoas was the first on the scene to cause the back pain. Most of the time, we probably aren't even aware of the stress we place on our low backs, with just a low-grade level of tension. But just one quick ortho-bionomy release, subtle and fast -- not the invasive digging through layers of muscle to directly palpate the muscle that is the province of traditional massage -- gets the first symptoms of back pain out.

I guess, given this, that I wonder why it is that massage therapists have trained their clients to lie face down first. The direct cause of the pain is most accessible when you're face up. But almost every client likes lying face down first, allowing you to access their backs. They all seem to need that psychological reassurance that you heard that their back hurts; that addressing the back directly is the way to go. I don't know of a way that your average LMT can convince their clients that what is at work is being felt in the low back, but contracting at the front of the back, where the psoas muscle is. Other things can be locked in the low back -- L3, L4, L5, those evil masterminds. The sacrum itself can be positioned oddly. But those unwind best after the psoas is released first.

It is a lot of trust to ask of a client, asking them to start face up, because pain makes your brain turn off and you tend to only hear what you want to hear. If I say that the psoas gets almost the whole lumbar region when it's released, only a few people will understand, even with pretty pictures.

So I guess the key is figuring out a psoas release when the client is prone (face down). I think I can adapt the standard O-B release if I can keep the knee straight (calf off the edge of the table). The exception to this is if the client has a knee problem, but if they have a knee problem, then I suspect they'll want me to fix the knee first, starting face up anyway.

Hmm. I need to practice.
kimberkit: (Default)
Alexander practitioners hold that we are 4-joint creatures -- one joint at the skull/neck base, another at the hips, another at the knees, and the final one at the ankles. The interesting thing about that is, that if you fix one joint you indirectly fix another. Necks and pelvises are related; pelvises and knees are related; knees and ankles are related. (Side note: singers and actors will almost certainly over the course of their careers run into a teacher who yells at them a bunch about their necks/chins. That comes straight out of Alexander and the idea that your neck pulls along the rest of your body, so if you fuck up at the neck, you're much more likely to screw up the rest of your body's balance.)

What that means is that if you are messed up at one of those joints, you should probably look to see if there's distortion further up or down the line at the other. In my case, my right knee and ankle hate me because my right hip enjoys twisting while I'm sleeping sidelying.

Most people with knee issues have hip issues, whether they know it or not.

The problem is that I almost never remember to readjust my hips. I could do it every day, with Sotai (if anyone in the area is interested, I can show you how), but I tend to forget.

Today, I remembered to fix my hip first, rather than hitting snooze 5 times, and it feels really, really wonderful. The knee stabilized, and I remembered to stretch out the ankle. As a bodyworker, I tend to believe that inner balance lies in the body along with the breath (and many meditation practitioners will agree) and I am just... hoping that that is enough to hang on to, today.

Sotai

Nov. 11th, 2008 07:28 pm
kimberkit: (Default)
I was thinking in particular of Sarah and of Stacy when I was pondering muscle-release systems (after I worked on a teacher who asked for tips on how to relax her shoulders), but I hope some of the rest of you can use these Sotai techniques:


  1. Check in with your body. Find the tight muscles. Say for example the tightness is in your shoulders, which would like to pretend to be earrings.
  2. Place one hand on top of the tighter shoulder (resting, not pressing, against the direction of where your shoulder wants to be)
  3. Breathe in.
  4. As you breathe out, lift the tight shoulder upward, where it wants to be. Your other hand, the resting hand, should be the weight of an egg -- light.
  5. Relax your body at the end of the exhale and let the shoulder drop. The shoulder should be much lower than it was. Repeat 1-2 times as necessary.


The principle works the same with every set of tight muscles -- the idea is that by not-resisting the movement of where a muscle wants to be, you're helping gravity. When your body recognizes the pull of gravity, it just... remembers where the more happy middle ground is.
kimberkit: (Default)
The most dreaded words during a massage session go something like, "oh, I forgot to tell you..." Worse, these things people forget to tell me almost always pop up towards the end of the session, when I can be less effective than I would have been at the beginning.

Some examples of "I forgot to tell you":

- "Oh my god! Not my neck! I forgot to tell you I was choked there." This is followed by the beginnings of a story about child abuse, and I am stuck reminding her that while I'm happy to listen, she's here to relax, not to relive.

- Towards the end of the session focused on back work: "I forgot to tell you I have carpal tunnel"

- Towards the end of a stretching session: "I forgot to tell you I have arthritis in that hand." (This one actually isn't so bad, since you can tap a joint to get some of the synovial fluid going and do a little gentle stretch to relieve arthritis)

And this is after the intake form and me asking if there are places I should avoid touching. Some variation of all three of these took place today, over three clients. Has Kim had a tiring day? Yes she has.
kimberkit: (Default)
At my gym, when I'm giving out free chair massages, I've noticed some interesting things.

Firstly: it is mostly men we need as our target audience, partially because I suspect the decor at our spa doesn't match standards of other spas, and women are exposed to so much massage and luxury in the course of their daily maintenance.

Want a massage? There's a therapist at your nail salon, a hair stylist who'll massage your head, etc. Men, on the other hand, don't get their nails done or their hair styled (as much), nor is touch between men socially acceptable... and thus, when their gym offers massage, they're incredibly happy to be touched. Men tend to earn more than women, on average. They don't care as much about the decor. Therefore they should be the perfect clients...

But...it is hard to get men in to the spa. Why? This is what happens when I give a chair massage to a guy. He sighs happily, and says, "no one has ever made me feel that way before... you felt like you had four hands!" I smile, and say, "that's fantastic! I'm so glad. I hope you'll come visit me." He says, "okay, my girlfriend's birthday is coming up soon, and I'll buy her a massage."

However much we say otherwise, complaining about men earning more and women being slaves to fashion or what-have-you, women sure do seem to end up coming out okay.

Mixed bags

Mar. 23rd, 2006 05:58 pm
kimberkit: (Default)
Whew, well... I committed to the Swedish Institute today. Yikes. The thought of committing that much money and time scares me a lot, but I think... I think I'll be happy as a massage therapist, even though the work will be hard.

Meanwhile, my main computer died again, which annoys me, since I just got it repaired; and I'll prolly just give up and be out of touch for a few days.

The store attempted to ask whether I'd take a paycut; I politely refused, and so, just in case they try to hardball it, I'll need a replacement venue. Which really means that Kim really needs to be compiling lists of potential students and sending out mailings pimping herself as a tutor. I could try to sell myself as a web designer, but I'm afraid that that sort of work would be more uneven, and I'm not even really sure about how to get the marketing started there.

Um. So that's the bad news. But in good news, I Craigslisted my old microwave, and some nice lady will be picking it up from me and donating it to her students. I got 2 boxes of books packed (yay!), I'm hoping to pack more, and [livejournal.com profile] sir_graeme generously offered to help move some of Neil's belongings in on Monday/Tuesday.

I feel like I'm scared and stressed, but hanging in there. And I know that (despite not having my parents' emotional support) I do have Neil. And Neil helps me to believe that everything's going to be fine. Just having someone to cry on when all the stress builds up helps enormously.

I am grateful every day that Neil is there to lend his incredible sense of acceptance and understanding and plain joy in being alive to me.

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