INSTANT ENERGY AT HOME AND AT WORK
Three essential strokes
One minute each, fifty repetitions
Walking the back
The Coffee Break Vs. the Massage Break
If your partner has been depending on stimulants for a pickup during the day, massage will open up a new world of possibilities. The following strokes are ideal for hardworking people who want a quick energy boost -without a crash afterward.
In the kitchen, living room, or office, a variety of percussion and friction movements, none of which require oiling or special preparations, can be used to alter your partner's mood. In fact, major changes start happening inside the body even before you finish massaging. In minutes, as oxygen levels throughout the massaged area climb, fatigue is diminished and a wonderfully energetic feeling takes its place. Stiffness in the muscles and joints yields to the sort of fluid ease one usually experiences after a strenuous physical workout. Finally, as acids are flushed out of the tissues to be replaced by oxygen-enriched blood, irritability gives way to an optimistic can-do attitude.
The effects are particularly impressive in situations where people must sit and concentrate for long hours at a telephone, typewriter, or computer. As fatigue departs, endurance levels are dramatically improved. Apple Computer, Pacific Telesis, and Raychem, to name just a few.
Schedule the massage when your partner is not likely to be interrupted. Be punctual.
Get feedback on stroke and pressure preferences. Appear confident and organized. Bring with you everything you will need.
Take whatever simple steps are possible to quiet the environment. Take all of your partner's requests seriously. Leave quietly as soon as the massage is finished.
Massage while your partner does something else. Don't get flustered if interruptions do occur. Encourage conversation. Comment on how tense your partner seems to be. Randomly explore your partner's body - people dislike being probed. Impose a complex routine of strokes to impress your partner. Introduce complicated rules or exotic theories. Needlessly take up your partner's time.
The most common problem one encounters when massaging busy executives is the overbooked itinerary. If your partner is too busy to sit still for a massage, try ganging up on her. Two pairs of hands can deliver twice as much sensation as one. The feeling of four hands thundering up and down the back during a pounding movement is so overwhelming that even the most self-absorbed type will stop talking and surrender to massage.
They always thank you afterward.
The Office Pillow
If you can't locate a lounge in which to sprawl out, the massage pillow becomes very important. With it, percussion and friction strokes for the upper back, the staple of on-the-job massage, become much more effective. Every worker needs a pillow large enough to support the full weight of the upper body when placed across the surface of a desk. Subdued colors are most inviting. The pillow should give good support during any of the common percussion movements, but remain firm enough to retain its shape. A removable cover makes occasional oiling possible, although a large towel can serve as well.
Some offices have nothing at all that can be used as a massage pillow, so it's wise to inquire ahead of time and provide one, if necessary, whenever you do massage at work.
Percussion strokes are probably the easiest to prepare for in massage. Don't bother having your partner lie down or remove any clothing; just grab a pillow and you're ready to go. In fact, if no pillow is handy, the head can be supported on the hands without seriously compromising the stroke. For offices without lounges, or for a quick burst of energy around the house, nothing satisfies like a few minutes of intense percussion.
Move up and down the back on both sides of the spine, but stay off the spine itself. Save your greatest pressures for the thickest muscles at the top of the back and across the shoulders. Generally, these movements are more effective over the rib cage, where bones provide a kind of natural cushioning effect. If you move to the lower back, follow the elevated ridge of muscles that runs parallel to the spine. Be careful not to pound on your partner's kidneys. Choose a percussion speed that you can comfortably maintain for a while. Rhythmic consistency is more important than raw speed.
Start with pounding, the most intense percussion movement, and let it give way to a more gentle full hand cupping stroke Your partner may want to direct the percussion to a specific part of the back, listen for feedback. If nothing is actually said, remember that pleasurable moaning means that what you're doing feels good - keep it up for a while.
Percussion strokes set up a vibration that carries right through the body. Work on the back for two or three minutes, and the feeling goes on after you stop.
Immediately after percussion, while your partner is still relaxing on a pillow, try some fast friction. It's the perfect stroke for that stiff neck or nagging pain at the top of the back. This energetic, immensely versatile friction variation can be used on almost every part of the body. It penetrates easily through clothing and works in nearly any setting, making it ideal for on-the-job massage. Fast friction is one of the rare massage strokes that takes some real effort to sustain. However, the extra exertion is always appreciated; no other stroke in massage produces a more intense feeling. It's shown here on the top of the
back, the area most frequently requested by office workers, but the stroke is equally effective on any fleshy part of the body.
The key to successful fast friction is good anchoring, without which the mOvement becomes sloppy and random. To cover the whole upper back, push down between the shoulder blades with the flat surface of one hand, then work up to the lower neck. Anchor near the shoulder, pushing flesh toward your friction hand. You'll need to reposition your anchor hand frequently during fast friction. Rotate the friction hand while pressing down moderately hard. Remember: friction strokes turn on the interior tissues, not the surface of the skin. You will feel the muscular interior of the upper back as you turn. Press in constantly with your anchor hand to confine the movement to the area under your friction hand - you don't want to shake the entire body. Your partner should feel an intense vibration that is confined to a single spot. Once you get the feel of the stroke, try increasing the speed. Fast friction can move almost as fast as you're able to go, but never push it to the limit - you'll have trouble sustaining the speed and controlling the stroke. Check with your partner to find out just how much speed he likes.
Raking the Back
Generally, most massage strokes stay off the spine itself, focusing instead on nearby muscle groups. Whenever they get tight, the long muscles that run parallel to the spine pull directly on spinal nerves. Repeated frequently enough, this stroke will go a long way toward relieving direct muscle pressure to the spine that keeps the nerves irritated.
Have your partner lean forward and support the weight of his head either on his arms or a desktop pillow. Forming a rigid arch with both hands, begin stroking down both sides of the spine with your fingertips. Keep your fingers flexed and rigid throughout this stroke. That way you can glide across the surface of clothing while penetrating deep within. Start at the neck and pull straight down in a series of alternating, foot-long strokes. The stroke moves slowly down the back, covering every portion five or six times. When you reach the bottom of the spine, start again from the top. Rake the whole back at least three times.
Walking the Back
Traditional back walking works only if you're considerably smaller and lighter than your partner. With a bit more effort much the same effect can be created using the fists. In fact, you can feel tensions with the hands that would go unnoticed beneath the feet. As your hands travel up and down the back, pressures can be directed with great precision - you can actually feel tensed muscles begin to relax.
This movement follows the same path you took during the raking stroke. You can stand directly behind your partner and do both sides of the spine at once. Make a fist and press the flat part of the knuckle into the long muscles that run parallel to the spine. As your fist sinks into the muscle, roll it forward slightly, pressing down hard as you roll. Start at the base of the neck with one fist, then repeat the movement immediately below with the other. Move all the way down the spine, pressing down first with one fist, then the other. Do each side of the spine twice; more if your partner asks for it.
They usually do.
Quick Friction for the Arms and Hands
Although the hands and arms are used constantly at work, we tend to ignore their aches and pains, focusing instead on the shoulders or lower back. Given just five minutes to work, most masseurs will settle for the lower back and shoulders. Before you do, look closely at your partner's job. Are typing, computer work, or extended telephone conversations required? After massage, the feeling of newfound energy will be just as invigorating in the hands and arms as in the high stress areas of the back.
This stroke also provides an excellent introduction to on the job massage. Even the most harried executive can be persuaded to rest an arm on the desk for a few minutes, or better yet, collapse on a couch in the company lounge.
To massage the shoulders, circle your partner's wrist and pull it straight out until the whole arm is extended. Then rotate the same flat part of your knuckle on the muscular shoulder top.
Remember: you need only a few minutes to get the fluid release effect started. With your partner lying on her back, anchor her extended arm at the wrist and press down on the forearm with the flat surface of your knuckle. Rotate slowly, moving up and down the arm from the wrist to the shoulder. Ease up over the exposed blood vessels at the wrist and inside the elbow, reserving your real pressures for the muscular forearm.
Rotating the Bones of the Arm and Hand
When was the last time your partner had her bones rotated?
The hand is operated by remote control via long tendons and bones that begin at the elbow. As the hand and arm turn, the two descending bones, the radius and ulna, demonstrate one of the more extraordinary aspects of human anatomy by actually crossing at the center of the forearm. During massage, however, the bones of the forearm can be made to cross while simply rotating the complex joint at the wrist.
Just as an effective foot massage starts up at the knee, massage for the hand must consider parts of the body between the wrist and elbow. Grasp your partner's hand around her loosely clenched fingers (as shown on p. 138) and rotate the wrist once just to test the limits of the turning arc. Pay close attention to the real limits of the arc, which will change several times in a single rotation. As you turn the wrist, the bones of the forearm will cross and uncross themselves.
Rotate the hand three times in each direction. Then grasp your partner's hand tightly between both of your hands, keeping your thumbs on top and rotate your hands slowly. The bones inside her hand will move with your hands. Massaging on a couch, you can rotate the bones of her other hand by simply reaching across her body. There's no need for your partner to move at any time during this stroke. You do all the work for her.
Throwing the Arm
Here is the perfect movement to break the monotony of desk work. While an arm flies through the air, your partner does nothing at all. The large ball joint at the shoulder is vigorously exercised as circulation throughout the limb is stimulated.
Lift your partner's arm first above the elbow, then at the wrist, until it's straight up in the air. Continuing to hold steady at the wrist, bring the arm up over her head until you feel resistance. Then move the wrist and arm all the way down to a point near her waist. Move the arm back and forth several times until you are completely familiar with the limits of the arc. Only then are you ready to begin the throwing part of the movement, starting with a small arc and enlarging it gradually. With your partner's arm fully extended, toss the wrist from one hand to the other. As you increase your throwing arc to the previously established limits, increase the speed.
Let your arm give way a bit each time you catch your partner's wrist. Reach across your partner's body to throw the other arm.
This is the fastest passive exercise. Arm throwing-a thriller.
Real and Imaginary Massage
Our Puritan heritage has assigned all physical contact between adults to two rather narrow categories: sexual or commercial. You're either making a sexual advance or you're making money when you touch other adults. Those engaged in commercial touching are careful to remain as impersonal as possible lest they be accused of making a sexual advance. This unfortunate stereotyping has created serious confusion in the massage profession. We have massage as a familiar euphemism for prostitution vs. massage therapy in which the body is manipulated as impersonally as a collection of auto parts. Real massage, the kind that has been practiced everywhere on earth since biblical times, is a sensual art: it works because it feels good. Sensuality is part of the wide spectrum of human feeling between sex and therapy. We live in a society that tries to deny its existence.
In massage, this denial has created some bizarre imitations. A prostitute posing as masseuse fiddles around with a leg or an arm for a minute or two before getting down to business. The customer really didn't expect massage and none was offered. But the massage therapist posing as doctor has even less use for real massage. Any gadget that will confer authority on the practitioner and distance him from the sensual is embraced wholeheartedly. High-speed electrical devices, magnets, bits of stone, and vials of uncertain chemicals are solemnly pressed against the body. Hands are waved back and forth in the air in order to "balance" mysterious forces.
When flesh finally does meet flesh, it's always to demonstrate an exotic theory, never simply to please. Bursts of nasty finger-poking alternate with violent manipulation of the joints because "blocked energy" must be liberated. Strokes wander aimlessly across the body, departing from the map of the circulatory system, from nerve paths, and, finally, from all known systems. As the confusion mounts, charts covered with exotic oriental characters are rolled out, indicating that dozens of independent lines converge on the bottom of the spine, the side of an ear, or the back of one toe. And of course the magnets and bits of stone converge on those spots with full liturgical ceremony.
Through it all the practitioner advances relentlessly on his helpless "patient;' selfrighteously poking, jabbing, and pulling at the body in the name of "healing:' In manner, if not in practice, the therapist seeks to emulate the high priests of the medical profession (usually his sworn enemies). Ask a question and the authoritative bullying begins: your therapist knows things you don't know about: "meridians;' "auras;' "energy imbalances;' and "pressure points:' It's all very mysterious and complex, and if it hurts, well ... it's good for you.
Quackery, not prostitution, is the biggest problem facing massage today. We're in the process of rediscovering an ancient health principle that can enrich our lives, but for many people the quack and his spooky bag of tricks will be the first and last contact with massage. The human body, perhaps the most complex arrangement of matter in nature, remains a mystery to the quack. He usually has little understanding of anatomy and no appreciation for the simple, sensual beauty of massage. Those who love massage understand that something primal pervades the experience - this is one of the most ancient human activities. Unfortunately, so is quackery.
Thousands of years ago, when people massaged by the light of open fires, bead strokers and body pokers concentrated on purging the body of evil spirits. Proving? That, in quackery, little has changed over the past few millenniums; self-promotion remains far more important than healing. The quack has always sought power by transforming the body into a supernatural freak show that only he can understand.
But there is a gray zone, too, between quackery and real massage. Many earnest practitioners, concerned that their efforts will be confused with prostitution, go to great lengths to "dignify" massage. The airs and exotic terminology are usually abandoned the moment a partner begins to sink into that profound state of relaxation that only real massage can bring.
How to Find a Good Professional Masseur
Thinking of hiring a professional masseur for yourself or your company? The rewards are great, but it pays to shop carefully.
The right masseur, or team of masseurs, can change the whole working environment for a small or large company. Employees are happier, more relaxed; the workplace becomes a pleasant environment where one feels good. Absenteeism declines, and productivity, that elusive goal, goes up. Do something this nice for your employees, and they're going to return the favor.
How much is stress costing you? Are your employees attempting to tack ambitious exercise programs onto the workload - failing - then turning to drugs to relax? Professional massage is less expensive and time-consuming than any of the standard medical services. You'll see dramatic results after just five minutes of massage two or three times a week; each session takes less time than the average coffee break. If stress is a serious problem at your company, massage can become a kind of preventive medicine, permitting the doctor to do other things. Which would you rather pay: the masseur or the workman's compensation claims?
The number of good professional masseurs is growing every year, but with no standardized licensing procedures, you have no way of knowing what to expect until the massage begins. Nevertheless, setting up a corporate massage program is one of the most pleasant tasks in business, simply because the interviewer will be massaged by so many of the job applicants. But there's more to the interviewing job than collapsing on a couch in your office while your neck and shoulders are kneaded. Use the following guidelines to pick the right professional for your company.
First, find out if any companies in your area have already set up massage programs - their recommendations are a good place to begin. Larger companies require a team of masseurs with a common philosophy program. Choose a program that's flexible enough to fit into your business day. If there's no separate lounge area in your company that can be used for massage, a team should be able to adapt to conditions in the office itself without causing any problems. If necessary, massage can be going on at one desk while work proceeds at the next. Again, the best way to audition a masseur, once references have been checked and preliminary interviews completed, is on your own body. Each masseur should be able to continue any stroke for at least five minutes without breaking rhythm. Ideally, he (or she) should be as efficient and invisible as a good waiter. And as silent.
If you're planning an extended massage program for a larger company, hire masseurs who keep simple records concerning the condition and special needs of each employee. Finally, look closely at your masseur's general presentation. A calm, confident manner will help put your employees at ease, while an officious, overly busy approach will ruin the experience. A masseur should be clean, with carefully trimmed fingernails, and a pleasant personality.
How do you separate the quacks from the serious masseurs? Beware of any practitioner who attempts to justify painful treatments in the name of massage. The quack shows up with an incomprehensible program that invariably includes plenty of nasty poking and twisting "because it's good for you." At best the quack is annoying and a waste of time, worst actually dangerous. Turn one loose in your office, and your employees become a testing ground for excruciating "body therapies;' thereby creating more, not less, work for the company doctor. The responsible practitioner, on the other hand, will respect your rights throughout a massage (see "The Massage Bill of Rights"). It is, after all, your body, not a pet theory, that matters most. Above all a masseur must be flexible enough to meet your personal needs. This means that you should get exactly what you desire (even if it means skipping the masseur's fortyseven-point program). If you want your shoulders kneaded for five minutes straight, ask, and if you get an argument, move on to another masseur.
Much the same criteria can be used to hire a personal masseur. Naturally, it becomes even more important to be sure the masseur will be sensitive to your own specialized needs. People come in various body types, and a good masseur will recognize yours, immediately seeking out the trouble spots and lingering on the most pleasure-sensitive areas. Nevertheless, your request, if you feel like making any, should come first. And afterward you should feel more relaxed than before.
Taken from SUPER MASSAGE, Simple Techniques for instant relaxation by GORDON INKELES (Author of the ART OF SENSUAL MASSAGE) Copyright 1988 Gordon Inkeles, first published in Great Britain in 1989 by Judy Piatkus (Publishers)Ltd of 5Windmill Street, London W1, Printed and bound in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd, Frome and London, Designed and produced by Jon Goodchild/Triad, Photographed by Gordon Inkeles, Illustrations by Sigga Bjornsson, Reprinted in 1989 and twice in 1990. Pages 132 to 143.
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