Chair Massage: Techniques to Save Your Thumbs

Thank you for joining us tonight at Incorporate
Massage. We’re doing a demo of a chair massage. For tonights purposes I am just going to be
demo-ing the upper back, shoulders, neck and maybe a little bit of head. My demonstration is purposefully going to
be geared toward people not using your thumbs as much as possible. I went to massage
school at the age of 50 and I want to keep doing this until I’m in my 70s and maybe 80s. So, my thumbs are very important to me. So tonight we’re going to use a lot of elbow
and forearm. My model is Stephanie. So when you put your client in the chair you
want to—come forward—make sure that they’re comfortable, that everything’s adjusted. We want the chair to be holding the client
up. We don’t want the client to be holding the
chair up. That’s not going to be a comfortable massage. Every massage therapist has a little different
way of introducing their touch. So you don’t want to go in there and just
grab the client right away. You want to softly come in and let them get
used to what your touch is. I will generally start with the shoulders
like this. Then just kind of move down the back so that
the client gets used to me and isn’t going to jump out of the chair. I’m going to use a fist. The whole point is to keep your joints stacked. My wrists are straight, my elbows are relatively
straight and I’m using my body weight. I’m not just using my hands. We come up to the top of the shoulder. You’re going to bring your fingers in and
roll back toward the heel of your hand, pulling the trapezius together. My thumbs aren’t involved in this at all. Anytime that I use my thumbs I keep them straight
and the whole motion comes from the entire arm, not the thumbs. You don’t want to just be moving your thumbs
around like that because you’ll wear out your joints. You won’t be a massage therapist very long—and
everybody loves a massage therapist. So now I’m going to come in with my elbow. And again, you’re not going to just jump right
in. You want to lay your elbow down at about the
bottom of the scapula is where we’re going to start—right next to the spine. And gently just sort of hook in and roll up
onto the blade of your forearm. It’s a lot of compression work that I do. How’s that pressure, Stephanie? Stephanie: It’s good. Ok. And I generally try to do three lines up the
back. So there’ll be one right next to the spine,
then one between the spine and the scapula. I’m just slowly working it up. You’ll try to keep your back as straight as
possible. The front knee is bent in lunge position and
all the weight is coming off of my back leg. The third line we’re going to come like right
around the medial border of the scapula. The same thing with compressions. Rolling forward, and then up onto the top
of the shoulder. Then I’ll go around with my fingers trying
to keep my fingers stiff and together, making a little “C” scoop. Feel all around the scapula. Make little circles to see if there’s any
trigger points that didn’t melt with those compressions. You’re always keeping your fingers together. My thumb is usually just an anchor on the
shoulder blade, depending on how some people have very wide shoulder blades so you’re in
the middle. You can come down around the lateral edge
of the scapula with your thumbs. Keep them, again, straight, joints stacked
and work around the edges of the scapula. When we’re doing corporate chair massage, a large percentage of what we’ll do is going
to be this upper back, neck, and shoulders. I have found that a lot of people have trigger
points up here in this top edge of the trapezius and I actually will work it from both sides
in a circular motion. It seems to release pretty fast that way. In these compressions, my fingers are bringing
the muscles to the heel of my hand. Try to get a little bit of mobility in the
shoulder. To Stephanie: Drop your shoulder. Grab the shoulder from underneath and then
we’re going to move it. And again, use your body weight. Don’t just use your hands and your arms. Use your entire body. Now I’ll come around to the front of the client. Again, at this point my thumbs are pretty
much the anchor. I’m pretty much using the first three fingers,
sometimes only two. When you’re on the client, making little circles,
finding out if we have any more trigger points, working this area. So stephanie has one right here. What I”m going to do is I’m going to keep
my fingers stiff on it here, just sort of monitoring that point. I’m going to pick up the arm. Make sure your client relaxes and just lets
you do the work. And then I’m going to bring the shoulder to
the trigger point. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. You’ll feel it start to melt. Then I’ll usually move the shoulder a bit. Move it around. Again, I’m coming to the front of the client. This time I’m using my thumbs again in a straight,
stiff position so all the joints are stacked and I’m going to feel all along the top of
the collar bone. A lot of people get those trigger points or
little knots in there. You can work those out. But the whole motion is coming from my arm
and my body, not just the thumb. Along the bottom of the collar bone. You can work the shoulder joints, again, keeping
your fingers together. Most of the time when we’re in an event situation
where we’re going pretty fast through clients, we don’t really have a lot of time to use
lotion. You don’t want to be gliding on a person’s
neck or their skin. So what I’ll do is I’ll use my knuckles. Actually just kind of try to hook it into
the muscle, and then I’m going to be moving the muscle with my knuckles instead of gliding
on the skin. Try to keep your thumbs as loose as possible. This allows you to go through, across several
muscles at one time. Coming up under the base of the skull I make
my fingers into a little “C”. Come up under the base of the skull in little
circular motions. It will help release a lot of tension in the
neck and the head.

6 thoughts on “Chair Massage: Techniques to Save Your Thumbs

  1. This is an Excellent Video!!!
    I have been doing this for 30 years
    and this is the FIRST video that says to
    use the body not just your thumbs/fingers!
    "Amen Sister!!!"
    Great video… Love it…
    PLease tell me what is the name of the Massage Chair?

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