As a neuromuscular massage therapist, I would do anything to reach a muscle attachment—even if it meant sacrificing a thumb or a finger. But after many years of “going for attachments”, I started to run out of thumbs and fingers.
For the next decade I worked on figuring out how I could massage hard-to-reach attachments without killing myself.
Here’s my general formula. Later in this article, I’ll show you how I apply this formula to hamstring attachments.
- Don’t glide up to the attachments.
We are gliding machines. Gliding is relaxing. Customers love it and gliding provides a lot of continuity to a massage. However, gliding, especially without moving your feet, can put you in a bad position to access a muscle attachment.We, MTs, are gliding machines, but gliding could hurt us when working attachments. Click To Tweet
I’ve found that it’s better to get over an attachment and then drop down. In, I Broke a Massage Rule and I Like It!, I explain how to pause, keep your place and reposition your feet without making the stroke feel interrupted.
- Use a variety of tools—thumbs, knuckles and fingers.
If you’re only using your thumbs to work muscle attachments, you’re going to burn them out. In this video, I demonstrate how to use thumbs, fingers, fists and knuckles in a variety of ways: Tools and Power Tools video.
- Use non-dominant hand.
If you’re go-to tool is your right thumb, start using your left thumb more. It will feel awkward at first, but here’s a quick way to get started.
For the next 50 massages, every time you use a dominant-side tool for attachment work (e.g. right thumb), use a non-dominant-side tool (left thumb), too.
Make it easy when you first start by only placing a non-dominant-side tool down for 1 or 2 seconds. Gradually add more time. As you add time, you’ll naturally explore and get better with the non-dominant-side tool.
After 50 massages, you’ll be on your way to creating a habit of using a non-dominant-side tool for attachment work.
- Use a hand-held massage tool.
This is my favorite. Why? Because, to some extent, I can give all my fingers a break when I’m using a hand-held tool. Getting started using a hand-held tool is like getting started using your non-dominant side: you need to create a habit of reaching for the massage tool.
So for 50 massages use a massage tool every time you work an attachment—even if it’s just for a second. For a primer on using hand-held massage tools, check out this video: Save Your Hands Using a T-bar/L-bar video.
Going for Hammy Attachments
Here’s how I would use these 4 suggestions to work hammy attachments.
First, I’d relax the client with gliding strokes on the hamstrings. Then when I was ready to work the attachments, I’d position myself over the ischium.
Next, I’d explore the attachment area with my knuckles and thumbs to pinpoint the areas I want to work.
Then I would use my T-bar and L-bar to precisely work the areas that my fingers have identified as “in need of work”. I’d also change my body position so that I can approach the attachment areas from different angles.
I show you what I mean in this video: How to Work Muscle Attachments Without Hurting Your Hands video.
Cut to the Chase
Here are the Cliff’s Notes to working hard-to-reach attachments.
- Position your body over the attachment and then begin.
- Use a variety of tools—fingers, knuckles, fists.
- Incorporate your non-dominant side.
- Use a hand-held massage tool.
If you only have time to check out one video, this one will serve you best: How to Work Muscle Attachments Without Hurting Your Hands video. Let me know how it goes!