Massage Therapist Self Care

I’d like to show you how to use Pain Patterns and Solutions (PPS) bodywork as a practical means of taking care of your most valuable assets: your hands, arms, shoulders, and neck. According to the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, PPS falls under the category of “structural and postural balance.”
Despite the fact that this is, in some ways, connective tissue work, it does have its own distinctive features. As part of our work with PPS for the human body, we deal with adhesions that rise onto the so-called platforms formed by the skin’s adherence to the underlying skeletal framework.

These adhesion-based platforms form in pairs to strike a healthy equilibrium both externally and internally (head/feet, right/left, top/bottom). Scar tissue formation is not only a normal part of the healing process, but also serves a functional purpose by helping the body maintain its equilibrium in the face of persistent, unnoticed pressure and repeated actions.

Using the Ulna Environment

When practicing massage, the hands, forearms, shoulders, and neck are subjected to constant pressure and repetitive motion; as a result, the body responds by laying down adhesions along the ulna bone closer to the elbow to provide more support to the area. Each arm, right and left, will develop scar tissue in precisely the same spot.

Adhesion formation here compromises the attachments and functionality of the biceps brachii. The result can be aching muscles in the neck and shoulders.

Adhesions on the ulna bone can be broken up by massaging; this allows the biceps insertion to be slid down and into the ulna bone. This causes tension in the tendons that attach the biceps to the scapula. Over time, this can lead to tendonitis.

Pull and force are generated from this downward force as it travels up the scapula, via the superior angle of the scapula, and into the cervical spine at C1 and C4.

The method outlined here will help massage therapists have less discomfort and greater neck, shoulder, and arm mobility.

When the biceps are allowed to relax back to a neutral contraction, the levator scapula relaxes, relieving pressure on the shoulder, scapula, and neck.

Self-Care Through PPS Bodywork for Massage Therapists

Look at how far you can move your head, shoulders, arms, and hands. Take mental notes of where you’re experiencing pain or restriction.

Second, begin at the olecranon process and move up the ulna bone about two to four inches while scraping directly on top of the flat area using a massage instrument with a blade. Put some serious pressure on any spots that are very rough or stuck, and they should give. When you have achieved a more comfortable level, reevaluate your flexibility and make any necessary adjustments.

Third, keep chipping away at it until you notice a difference in the pressure or pain in your neck, shoulders, arms, and hands (about five to eight minutes per arm). When stressed, adhesions rebuild into scar tissue. Maintaining a regular practise of this kind of self-care work is essential.

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Anna Smiths

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