Advice on Using Massage Tools
The primary function of any massage tool is providing relief from wear on the hands and joints of the massage therapist or user. Massage tools have different weights and shapes that allow the tools to localize certain muscle areas. Massage tools, when used properly, can expend more pressure on a specific area because of their special shape and hardened surface area. Where a hand or fingers might flex and lose pressure, a massage tool is designed to give only a minimal amount of flex and use direct force.
Consultation and Advice
Nothing can give you a better understanding of massage tool applications than a consultation session with a professional massage therapist. They have learned experience with the practicality of all the different tools, including their size ranges, effectiveness, brand names and configurations. If you intend to become a massage therapist or use a massage tool, you will need to know what types of tools have successful track records for producing the best results. Ask about brand names, expense, durability and test results.
Power and Intensity
Does the massage tool let you effectively control it for the correct stroke and manipulation? The tool must work effectively to palpate and reach the intended muscle group or affected muscle. This can be accomplished by a self-test, or asking a patient or friend how effective the treatment was after an application. The tool that has a special design should be able to apply direct pressure to the precise muscle and tissue area, localizing it from other areas.
Tissue and Muscle Response
A massage tool user should be able to gauge the tissue and muscle response after a treatment, or over a short healing duration. A massage tool serves as an extension of the hands. The proper technique should be used so that the tool mirrors and duplicates same type of response hand-massage provides. A user can sense their own tissue and muscle response by self-application.
When using the massage tool, you should be able to easily reach the body part with the given design of the tool. A "Backnobber," for instance, has an S-shaped design, and has a fiberglass-nylon construction. It gives you complete access to the front torso, sides, back and feet regions, with its curved design. The tool must also let your relax as you apply necessary pressure and simulation. You should not have to work hard at achieving results. You must use a tool that hits the "trigger points" -- the affected isolated area of concern.
Directions and Operating Manuals
Specialized massage tools come with instruction manuals. They cover all aspects of the tool's design, function and purpose. Any person using a massage tool should read the instruction manual cover to cover, familiarizing herself with the tool's specific function, as well as its limitations. One tool should not be substituted for another.
Whatever the design and purpose of the massage tool, practice does make perfect. Certain movements of the tool, exactly as designed, should be performed multiple times until maximum proficiency is achieved. The tool user or therapist should request honest feedback from her clients, then learn to adjust the technique until she has gained complete confidence. The application of the tool can be performed on you by a professional therapist, so you know firsthand how the tool can be used and what potency to expect
Fit and Feel
Determine if the massage tool can be carried or bagged with ease. Is it too bulky to fit in your carrying container? The smaller the massage tool the better, in most cases. The look or appearance of the tool should not be intimidating or frightening to a client, especially to a child. Test the tool with the fit in your hand. It should not require a extended grip that will stress your fingers, or overextend your reach when used.
Any massage tool user or therapist should make it a daily routine to clean and sterilize his equipment before each use. Bacteria, germs, sweat and other fluids can inhabit massage tool seams and joints, although many have very smooth, rounded designs for ease of maintenance and cleaning. Massage tools should be covered or stored until needed for use. Leaving massage tools out in the open makes them susceptible to foreign contaminants, dust, smoke and other airborne substances.
Study the different tool designs and sizes. The "Ma" roller looks like a rolling pin with two raised rollers in the middle. It expends pressure on each side of the spine to massage the large back muscles without touching the vertebrae. The "Knobber" looks like a doughnut with a tapered handle, which you can set and floor and put your own weight on it to massage an area. Or, the Knobber can be used for direct application to the thick leg and arm muscles.
Pick the "Dolphin" for a cute tool. It has plastic construction, is the size of a fist and looks like a miniature dolphin. It has rounded flippers, and a blunted snout and tail. The different appendages of the Dolphin reach in between the various muscle group joints, hitting those sore trigger points. Check out the "Bongers," if you want to apply a rhythmic back thrumming to yourself or a patient. The Bongers is a tool with long drumstick handles, with cushioned balls on the ends. This tools allows you to beat up and down the back area, creating a stimulating massage.