The Positioning and Body Kinetics when Giving a Massage

Massage Therapist and ClientPosture and Movements when Giving a Massage

A good posture while giving a massage is essential. When you perform a few massages per day, if you don't have a good posture, you will end up by wasting way too much energy, and you will start thinking about giving up your massage career. The rules for positioning, moving, and body kinetics are different for various modalities.

Posture and movement for Swedish Massage

  • Move your whole body
    Every move should be a move of the entire body. It shouldn't be just a hands' job. At the beginning, it will require some extra effort, but in time will be easier if you use proper movements and use your entire body while giving a massage. Using your arms and shoulders alone is guaranteed to exhaust you very quickly.
  • Maintain a good balance
    Don't lose your balance. Position yourself so that it's difficult to knock you over, with your knees slightly flexed.
  • Do not bend over
    Instead of bending over for your strokes, you rather spread your legs and flex your knees more.
  • Massage with your lower body
    Generate your movements from your lower body - the legs and the hips, not just your upper body.
  • Stand straight
    Stand straight and keep your feet spread apart at shoulder length. Focus on your vertebral column position and readjust several times per session, if needed. In time this will become a reflex and you won't have to think about it.
  • Maintain straight lines with your strokes
    Apply pressure in a straight line without bending your joints, this allows you to use more your weight instead of muscles.
  • Take care of your thumbs and wrists
    Thumbs and wrists are the most worked parts of your body. Do not rely only on them to do your massage work; alternate by using your knuckles, forearms, elbows, etc...
  • Lean a lot with your strokes
    Use the leaning while you are massaging, use your weight and gravity instead of muscles. This will save you a lot of energy.
  • Adjust your massage table
    The massage table needs to be adjusted for your height and for your client. Many therapists adjust their tables at the hip level. Others prefer that the massage table is setup so that their fist touches the top of the table when standing beside it. Our bodies as massage practitioners are different hence the debate. You can even need to adjust the table according to your client. For instance, if you have a large client, such as a weight lifting athlete, you need as much power as possible to work the massive muscles. In these cases, you need to adjust your table much lower than normal, so you can use your weight as much as possible. 

A Massage Therapist's  Guide to PathologyPosture and Movement for Indian Head Massage

Head massage is perceived differently by the Western and Eastern cultures, hence the different approach. Following is a description of good postural habits assuming that the client is sitting on normal chair.

Other massage modalities use this type of setting, for example amma massage, office massage, etc...
  • Adjust the chair or client's position so that their head is around your chest or abdomen level.
  • If the client is sitting on a normal chair, make the adjustments so that he or she can lean on your abdomen when you perform techniques that are more vigorous. A symmetrical palm effleurage on your client's forehead or pressopuncture on face are good examples.
  • On an ergonomic massage chair, these are almost unnecessary, and the therapist's position and body kinetics will be very similar to massage performed on a table. 

Posture and Movement for Thai Massage

Posture and body movements are slightly different for Thai massage since this is performed on a mat at the floor level. Most of the time the massage therapist is sitting on their knees and the use of bodyweight when massaging comes naturally.