Chair Massage guru, Eric Brown, has developed 8 guidelines for safe body use that he suggests you employ to reduce the stress on your muscles and joints. This is the first part of a four part series of articles:

Principle 1: Keep your back in a straight line

The spine has to be kept in an aligned position. The curves of the back must not be exaggerated or minimized. By preserving this posture, there is a minimal amount of stress to the discs in your back or the ligaments that support your spine. Because we oftentimes have sedentary lifestyles, we tend to lack the strength and body awareness needed to stabilize the back in this position.

As a result you need to be very aware of securing the torso in this neutral alignment. This stabilization is critically important and makes it possible for you to transfer your mass effortlessly into the client's body.

You need to lunge when applying many of the techniques. If your trunk is aligned in a lunge position, you will notice that you are glancing at the floor. This is an unnatural position. We elicit an orienting reflex that makes us align our gaze to the horizon. So your habitual tendency will be to lift up your head and extend your back into a very vertical position to see straight ahead. This pulls your spine out of an aligned position and causes hyperlordosis in the lower back. This makes it a great deal more difficult to stabilize the lower back and creates undue stress to the joints of the spine.

It's extremely important to resist this instinct and to preserve a very neutral position of the lower back. At first it will feel surprisingly unnatural. However, as you bring your focus to your back you'll start to be aware in a kinesthetic way why it makes sense. At first it will take great effort to keep this neutral alignment. But with time you'll being to feel increasingly comfortable with the feeling of this position and it will start to be much more natural for you to maintain.

Try this simple exercise you can do to get the feeling for stability in your back in this neutral position.

Practice this exercise for an aligned back...

Coming from a background in ballet, I've been made aware of alternate ways of thinking about the human body and how it moves through space. Dancers don't know much about human anatomy so they are likely to talk about movement in the form of imagery. One image they habitually use, no matter what they are doing, is the image of pushing downward into the earth. Think about Newton's third law of motion: \"Every action has an opposite and equal reaction.\" The more they push into the floor, the more their back elongates and lengthens.

For this exercise, stand still in one spot with your feet slightly separated. As you stand quietly for a second, pay attention to the sensations through your feet, your legs and your back. Scan your body with your inner eyes. While you are standing there in a relaxed way, think of pushing into the floor with your feet. Picture attempting to push the floor downwards. As you do this, be aware of what occurs in your body. Be aware of how your legs feel as though they become more firm while remaining relaxed. Feel your pelvis move into an upright orientation so that it feels like a bowl that softly supports your abdominal contents. Notice how your spine seems to straighten without any work and how your body seems to lengthen and get taller around a central axis.

Repeat this process several times letting your body relax and then engaging your feet into the ground to become aware of that lengthening sensation in your body.

Author's Bio: 

Learn chair massage techniques through the Relax to the Max Guide to Chair Massage Techniques video program. For a limited time you can get it for half price at chair massage techniques.