If you use your forearms constantly for deep pressure you may develop shoulder or elbow problems (or start looking Quasimodo). One way to offset the workload is to mix in fists. Yep, it’s going to feel awkward at first, but once you see how deep pressure transitions between fists and forearms can be seamless, you’re gonna want to hug me.If you can't do deep pressure transitions, you're headed for a broken something. Click To Tweet
Mixing it Up
But you’re thinking: Mark, I’m doing just fine with my forearms for deep pressure work. I don’t have any pain. Why add in another deep pressure tool, like fists?
If you’re asking that question, I’m gonna guess you’ve been doing massage for less than 5 years.
Trust me on this, spreading the workload out among many joints and muscles, will help keep your body happy.
Deep Pressure Strategies
Here are 3 ways you can spread the deep pressure workload out:
AKA don’t always press with your dominant thumb. Some people are severely one-sided (like my wife, Lisa). If that’s the case, there are other things you can do to spread the workload out, like
Use massage tools.
I’m seriously addicted to massage tools. Not only can they save your hands, but they can substitute for forearms and fists when doing static, deep pressure.
This will get you started with massage tools: How to Do Very Precise Pressure
A third strategy to spread the workload out is to
Use as many body parts as possible to deliver deep pressure.
For precise, deep pressure, here’s my favorite combo body-part:
For a deeper dive into combining body parts, check out this video .
Fists for General Deep Pressure
For general, deep pressure, fists are an excellent alternative to forearms. And, yes, you can ramp up the pressure with fists no problem. You just have to lean.
Deep Pressure Transitions: Forearms to Fists
Deep pressure with fists does require some planning in advance. If you always use your forearm and then suddenly decide to use your fists in the middle of the massage, you’re going to struggle because your table height is going to be too high.
Which brings us to step one for transitioning back-and-forth between fists and forearms. You need to
Set your table height for your fists.
This means your table should be set lower than it would be when using forearms. Why? Because you need enough distance between you and the table to lean all your body weight into the client through your fists.
Once you have your massage table height set for fists, you only have to remember two more things:
Take a wide stance when using a forearm.
Take a narrow stance when using fists.
How you move from wide to narrow stance and vice versa will be unique to you. Here’s what my footwork looks like:
Deep Pressure Transitions Recap
Doesn’t look hard, right?
But if you’re still completely hooked on only using your forearms (not going to mention any names, Heidi), please let me know, and I’ll let you talk to my left shoulder.
Seriously, fists are not hard to do.
You just need to get deep pressure transitions down.
Here are the steps:
Deep Pressure Transitions Steps
- First, make sure to set your table height so that you can lean into your fists with all your body weight (which means your table is lower than a table set for forearms).
Then transition between forearms and fists by moving into a wide stance when using a forearm.
Move into a narrow stance when using your fists.
Figure out your footwork as you go along.
P.S. If you’re having trouble with transitions (or anything), join my email group and let me know what’s going on. You’ll also get notified when my latest information is out, and you can opt out anytime:-)