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Cascade Quarterly News Archives
Spring 2015: Volume 9, Issue 1

Feature Article: Body Mechanics

Printable PDF Version

In this issue:

1) In the News
2) Make it Easy on Yourself
3) Body Facts
4) Massage Gift Certificates
5) About Cascade Massage Therapy


Many of the physical conditions massage therapists see are problems commonly brought on by the way a person uses his or her body every day. This issue of my newsletter features information to help you discover ways to avoid many of those nagging aches and pains.

If you have any questions about the information in this issue – or any other health-related question you think massage might help – please ask at your next session.


Click here to learn more about how I can help you.

1) In the News...

Being a couch potato won’t protect you from injury, and may even cause it, said researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia. They conducted a study in which 19 young male volunteers lounged around in bed for eight weeks. In every case, the subjects experienced a pain-inducing “deactivation” of their lumbar multifidus muscles, which hold the vertebrae in place. Even six months later, many had not recovered the use of those muscles. Only 10 percent to 15 percent of back pain cases begin with an injury, said spine specialist Dr. Robert Moore. The rest may simply be a result of not moving around enough.

-The Week, Vol 4 Iss 188/189

2) Make it Easy on Yourself

A nice benefit accompanying an education in massage therapy is learning about proper body mechanics – how to lessen or avoid physical stress and injury. Becoming aware of how you use (and sometimes misuse) your body can help you to stay healthier and to feel better between massage sessions.

Whether you are sitting or standing; pushing or pulling; or lifting and holding something, the way you use your body will influence your physical health. For instance, just keeping a wallet in your back pocket can throw your back out of alignment because of the way it changes your body mechanics when you sit.

Body positions are so important to your health. A perfect example is the strain put on your back, neck and shoulders when you look down when standing. The next time you’re doing dishes, look mostly straight ahead instead of down and see what a difference it makes.

The following information comes from a popular book among bodyworkers called Body Mechanics for Manual Therapists, written by Barbara Frye. Hopefully, you’ll find this information beneficial:

Body awareness is where it all starts. Without it, we blindly go through our work not realizing how our movements, responses, sensations and feelings affect our health.

“Body awareness is a mindfulness of your body’s movements, responses, sensations and feelings. As you develop this mindfulness or consciousness of your body, you become aware of subtle patterns, for example, the position of your shoulders while you read, or the shifting of your weight when you stand.

“Once you become aware of your body and your habits of movement, you can begin to discover which movement habits serve you and which ones hinder and cause you discomfort, pain and injury.

Standing is a basic and foundational position from which all other body mechanics are performed…Your body must continue to move or ‘sway’ in varying degrees in order to keep itself in balance, … so don’t fight its natural movement.

“Trying to stand ‘straight’ takes your skeleton out of its natural alignment and requires your muscles to work very hard to hold a ‘straight’ posture. The next time you feel yourself trying to stand ‘straight’, relax and allow the natural shape of your skeleton to support you.

“Whether you stand with your feel parallel to each other or with one foot forward, your legs must transmit the weight of your body down to your feet equally.

“When standing, it is important to keep your upper body vertical and balanced over your pelvis, legs and feet. … Keeping your center of gravity over your feet lets your upper body move without restriction, allowing your shoulders, arms and hands to move freely.

Sitting is believed to cause the majority of back pain in this country. This is due to the fact that people tend to sit in a slouched or slumped position for hours at a time, increasing the pressure on their lower back. … Overall there is an increased risk of pain and stress to the lower and upper back as well as the neck. Sitting with your upper body vertically balanced over your pelvis allows your low back to maintain its lumbar curve, decreasing the pressure from flexion (bending of a joint). Not only does it allow your low back to relax, it also allows your entire back to keep its natural curves, reducing excessive muscular effort. …When sitting it is important that your knees are the same height as your hips. …Finding the right width for your legs helps maintain your stability and vertical balance, and reduces muscular tension.

“When lifting, it is very important that you get as close to the weight as possible, without losing your own stability. …When you stand away from the weight, your back must bend and lean in order for your arms and hands to reach the weight. This puts a tremendous strain on the muscles and vertebrae of your back. It also requires the muscles of your arms and shoulders to work hard, first to reach the weight and then to lift it.

“’Lift with your legs, not your back’ is a phrase commonly used when discussing the body mechanics of lifting. …Lifting with your legs means you are using the power of your lower body to lift the weight. Instead of bending from your back and putting strain on your spine and upper body, bend from your hip joints and knees, and use the power of your legs.”

As you know, massage can help to return your body to a better functional state, as well as helping you to maintain it. These tips should help you between sessions. So, take care of yourself; see you soon!

3) Body Facts

  • 80% of your brain is occupied with keeping your body upright in space.
  • The human skeleton has 206 bones with many shapes, but not one straight bone.
  • Your two feet together contain a quarter of all the bones in your body.
  • During a typical day, your feet endure a cumulative force of several hundred tons.

4) Give the Gift of Massage!

Massage gift certificates are a wonderful way to introduce someone to the benefits of massage – and to let them know how special they are to you!

Click Here to purchase your Cascade Massage Therapy gift certificate online!

The content of this newsletter is not intended to replace professional medical advice. If you're ill, please consult a physician

Reprinted with permission from Massage Marketing © 2002

5) About Cascade Massage Therapy

My Approach

  • I bring over 18 years of bodywork experience and education to the massage table!
  • I offer you diverse and comprehensive massage therapy sessions. Your treatment goals are foremost and your needs will be heard and addressed.
  • I utilize both traditional and complementary treatment techniques, and recommend self care tips and exercise options that evolve with your individual healing process.
  • This is your time - I encourage you to enjoy the stillness of your session, and sense the changes occurring in your body while we work - you don’t need to be entertaining or start a conversation; that being said, please recognize that I do not read minds. I expect my clients to participate in his or her experience and give feedback as needed during the treatment.
  • Cascade Massage Therapy is focused on education and prevention. It is important that you know what you can do to help prevent stress, tension, and pain when you are not with me. I allow for time at the end of our session to converse, suggest self care tips and exercises that would be beneficial for you, and answer any questions that you may have.
  • I believe that prolonged stress, whether environmental, physical or emotional is a primary factor in disease and a true obstacle to healing. Therefore, I welcome you to a peace-filled and relaxing environment where you can experience relief from pain and tension.

Click here to Book Your Appointment Online!

Sonja Rawlings, RMT
Associate Member Ortho-Bionomy Association of Canada

1601 – 30th Avenue
Vernon, BC V1T 2A3



If you have specific health concerns consult your medical doctor.

The information in this newsletter is educational only and is not intended to replace the advice of your personal health care providers.

Printable PDF Version

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Office located in Vernon, BC, Canada. Serving Vernon, Coldstream,
Lavington, Armstrong, Lumby, Enderby, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Chase,
Falkland, Kelowna and the rest of the Okanagan.