Practicing Massage Requires Good Body Mechanics

In this podcast, Jano Cohen, an Alexander Technique teacher and Massage Therapist in Philadelphia talks to Robert Rickover about ways the Alexander Technique can help Massage Therapists.

Jano: “Practicing massage is an athletic endeavor that requires good body mechanics. In a lot of massage training programs, they teach people how to use their bodies well, but not in the sophisticated way the Alexander Technique offers.”

Robert: “I’ve worked with massage therapists and noticed an over-use of hands, shoulders and arm muscles.”

Jano: “When you allow your whole body to be behind each movement you make, it’s a lot less effort.”

Robert: “There’s a pretty high burn-out rate in that profession.”

Jano: “When people are tense, their joints are often stiff and they can’t listen to what is going on in somebody else’s body. People react to that tense touch by stiffening. So there’s a lack of movement back and forth.”

“When people get help with Alexander Technique, there’s an improved flow in the body. Your touch is much softer and more sensual. When you touch someone that way, they receive a soft sensual touch and are able to relax. The practitioner can hear more and listen deeper into the body. When there’s a block or armoring in the body, it’s harder to hear what is going on but with soft hands, you can penetrate that armor with gentleness and before they know it, they’re already releasing and following.”

Robert: “I’ve noticed that massage therapists tend to lose awareness of themselves and it all goes into their client.”

Jano: “Massage, like Alexander Technique, is a partnership. The client is contributing to the partnership. To help the client, the practitioner must be the best they can be, but also for themselves. You do not need to give up yourself for the other person. This is a boundary issue. Whatever you do in life, it’s important that you stand your own ground and that you care for yourself. It’s a modeling for the other person. It’s also a way of meeting the client as a full self.

“If you degrade your own body and forget about yourself while you work with someone else, that does not help them. It does not bring them into the world in a better way.”

“The way you think about yourself comes across to the other person. When people come to practitioners, they often have transference issues from their parenting. Maybe they’re in a job where somebody is dominating them and they’ve come to expect this from a person of authority.

“An Alexander Technique teacher is not a separate authority but a person offering a facility, not dominating the other person. They’re teaching the person that they can come to the partnership in a safe way. A partnership where there’s less and less tension and people are more open and connecting to each other in a flowing, organic way that does not require force or manipulation or domineering.”

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