I completed my first 1000 hours of professional massage training in 1978, have massage athletes at two Olympics and have been teaching medical massage for over 10 years now – that’s a lot of massage.
To be honest, like many mature massage therapists, my thumbs are shot. To be able to continue in this work I love and respect so much I had no choice but to find ways to work smarter and deliver the highest level of treatment I know is possible, without using my thumbs.
One of my first teachers Dr. Janet Travell is credited with developing our modern understanding of Trigger Points. Another one of my teachers, the chiropractor, Dr. Raymond Nimmo, designed a “T” shaped wooden hand-tool with a pointed rubber tip to assist in applying direct and focused pressure on trigger points between the ribs and transverse process to reduce pain and edema associated with subluxations.
I use Dr. Nimmo’s T-bars very successfully in my treatments and his tool was the inspiration for a variation I created in 1999 when I first started to experience pain in my thumbs.
My “L-Bar” tool fits comfortably into the palm of your hand and has a flat rubber tip that allows the therapist to deliver a focused pressure precisely where it’s needed.
I use the forefinger of the hand not holding the tool to glide along with the rubber tip to feel the tissue being worked on to deliver just the right amount of pressure in just the right place without ever using my thumbs.
I dare say the patient never feels the difference.
There are many other unique techniques that I have developed over 30 years time to minimize the negative impacts a heavy schedule of massage had on my body and I’ve incorporated them all in the NCBTMB approved continuing education seminars I teach on Medical Massage to assist you in extending your career as a massage therapist.