Remember when you first started massage and thought your earning potential was 40 hours x $60, $70 or $80? But then one day you hit your massage max and experienced pain (the built-in disincentive to making extra money through massage). Sad day, huh? Well, there’s a way to bump up your massage max without being in pain. It’s called minimal effort massage.
Minimal effort massage? What am I supposed to fall asleep on my client now?
Well, not actually asleep, more like pre-dozing.
I’m sorta not kidding.
When you’re working efficiently and using minimal effort to get the best results, you’re going to feel very relaxed, like you’re ready to fall asleep on your client.
To get to the point of “almost falling asleep on your client” you need to do two things: (1) lean and (2) position yourself to lean.
Minimal Effort Massage Step #1: Lean
Why lean? When done right, leaning is less taxing on your body to generate force than pressing with your upper-body.
Personally, I discovered the mechanical advantage of leaning as I worked through neck and shoulder injuries. Later I came across research which supported my experience.
How to Lean
To be able to lean effectively (transfer all of your body weight onto the client if you have to) you’ll need to set your table low.
For more about setting your table height, check out Table Height Is Everything.
Here’s a quick look at leaning in pics.
This is a lean gone bad.
My back is rounded and I’m using my upper-body to generate pressure because my table is not low enough.
This is a good lean.
My shoulder, elbow and wrist joints are stacked. And my table is low enough so that I can effortlessly transfer my body weight.
Pretty easy so far, huh? Here comes the challenging part.
Minimal Effort Massage Step #2: Positioning Yourself to Lean
To maintain your leaning advantage throughout the massage you’ll need to put yourself in positions where leaning is easy to do.
In other words, you’ll have to move.
If you’re normally taking 250 steps (out of my butt #) around the table during the course of a massage, you might need to take 500 steps to be in the best positions to lean.
If you don’t move to get into position, you’ll be over-extending and recruiting your upper-body to get the job done.
The way to know it’s time to move your feet is when you feel that your leaning pressure is becoming less effective and/or you start to feel bodily discomfort.
Lateral and Medial Positioning
Positioning applies to working the lateral and medial aspects of muscles and muscle groups, too.
For example, in the picture below I’m working hammies. In this position it’s easy for me to lean and work the biceps femoris.
But to reach the semimembranosus, semitendinosis and adductors I have to extend my arms and my pressure is going more “out” and less “down”.
Now, look what happens when I walk to the other side of the table and lean.
I can easily lean all of my body weight into those muscles.
Time for a siesta.
One more thing, you’re going to want to take shortcuts. That’s human nature.
When you get tired your feet will stop moving. Don’t let ‘em.
It will take some energy to walk around the table, but once you do you’ll be in a position to deliver pressure effortlessly.
You’re also going to want to keep the table height the same all the time because it’s a pain to change a manual table.
My advice: For a month, adjust your table height whenever you need to without question.
Once you experience the benefits from adjusting your table, you’ll never go back to keeping the table height the same for everyone.
The Quick Version of Minimal Effort Massage
Okay, let’s go over the basics one more time. To master minimal effort massage (1) lower your table, (2) lean and (3) get in the best positions to lean.
If you still have questions, fire away.
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