Freeing the Shoulders

Deep massage and mobilising techniques

NEXT WORKSHOP: See the Diary for workshop dates, cost, locations, etc

This 1-day course is designed to enhance the massage practitioner’s repertoire of techniques and effectiveness for working extensively on this common area of tension, stiffness and discomfort, with the client prone.

The day begins with a ‘hands on’ review of the main muscles of this area and their actions, looking at them in their functional groups to help make sense of them.

Then we work with the client in a prone position, which enables us to get at a large number of the muscles that relate to the shoulder girdle and the arm. The techniques covered include specific deep massage and pressure techniques for release and re-energising of the muscles. These are allied with dynamic stretches  and mobilisations.

The course emphasises:

  • the choice of appropriate techniques, and adapting them to suit the individual client
  • ‘listening’ with your hands (monitoring and adapting to the client’s responses).
  • ways of moderating the pressure
  • how to blend the techniques smoothly into a massage session
  • and relevant exercises to offer the client for self-maintenance
  • protecting your hands and body while working most effectively

“Very informative and to the point – I will be using the techniques I’ve learnt today to help others”

Note: The Releasing the Neck, Freeing the Shoulders, and Releasing the Lower Back courses are each self-contained. Each can be taken as a stand-alone course, but they also complement one another.

Releasing the Neck, Shoulders and Lower Back

There is also a 4 day course covering the neck, shoulders and lower back, which incorporates and extends the work of these 3 courses – with the client prone, supine, side-lying and seated (clothed).

NEXT WORKSHOP: See the Diary for workshop dates, cost, locations, etc

Freeing the Shoulders – More workshop information

The Freeing the Shoulders day is designed to help you understand more about the shoulders and to increase your skills to work on them. It is designed for people who have basic massage skills. Because of variations in massage training levels, this, in practice, means a range of skill levels – but, in my experience in running this course for over two decades, what I’m offering expands the skills of all who have attended.

We begin the day by looking briefly at the main groups of muscles around the shoulders (and feel them hands-on on fellow participants – what they feel like relaxed, in action and tensed up, and on different builds) to make some sense of what’s going on in this complex area of muscles and some of the reasons why the common tensions arise. Then, for the rest of the day, we work with partners – giving and receiving – with me demonstrating and then coaching you in a range of techniques for the shoulders and upper back, with the client prone – primarily strong petrissage techniques (to stretch and move the muscles), deep tissue type of techniques, and passive stretches and mobilisations.

It is NOT a sports massage course – we are not trying to jump around and just focus on particular ‘problem’ areas. Instead the aim is to expand your repertoire of techniques for generally releasing shoulder tension and for working more specifically on knotty/tight areas within general massage sessions. 

The techniques are ones that you can easily incorporate into familiar sessions (with a little practice). You can use them in a general full body massage session, or to spend more time easing up those tight areas (and therefore spend less time on other body areas), or do sessions where you primarily focus on shoulders and upper back (and neck). I coach you on how to work in a ‘fluid’ way, so that you can use them in a relaxation massage (without breaking the mood) or a sports massage session, how to apply them in ways that put the least strain on your hands while being most effective, including how to use your body most effectively to support your hands. (One of my areas of focus in teaching is how to work most effectively with the least strain on your hands and body – the subject of my book “Dynamic bodyuse for effective, strain-free massage”.)

In the past, I found that if I threw a large number of techniques at people, they tended to feel overwhelmed, didn’t consolidate many of them and forget many of them by the end of the day. Therefore my teaching now involves covering less techniques more thoroughly. My teaching style is to demonstrate one technique at a time. I then move around the room and coach each person individually (as needed) to consolidate the technique (including coaching on how best to adapt the technique to suit your own body – your hands and your build). This gives people more time to practice and consolidate each technique (to really get a handle on them). I also demonstrate and coach on variations on the technique, and ways of adapting to different client’s builds and tensions.

Towards the end of the day, I like to do a demonstration of how to integrate what we’ve covered within a general massage of this area.

The overall aim is to give you both more specific techniques and more confidence and familiarity with working on client’s shoulders.

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