Safety Guidelines for the Use of Elbows
Additional safety guidelines for using the elbows relate to the fact that the pressure applied is so localized. When using the elbows, you must never compress main vascular structures, lymph nodes or nerves. You need to take extra care in controlling this technique. Be especially careful when using oil—you must guide your elbow to prevent it from slipping, keeping the elbow in the correct position on the muscle.
When using elbows to treat trigger spots, be sure to remove the pressure if the sensation of slight discomfort at the spot does not dissipate within 60 to 90 seconds. If the discomfort does not dissipate, this could indicate you are pressing into a spot other than a trigger spot.
Finally, remember that elbows should be used only after tissues have been thoroughly warmed. That said, with practice, many therapists become expert at applying just the right amount of pressure with the elbows, using this very pressure as part of the warm-up. Using elbows certainly facilitates the application of deep pressure, but such pressure doesn’t have to be deep.
Advantages, Disadvantages and Uses of Elbows
After practicing compressive techniques using your elbows, tick the statements with which you agree in the following three lists:
- Facilitates the application of very deep pressure
- Can be localized to a very specific spot
- Avoids strain on the therapist’s wrist
- Easily links to compressive techniques using forearms
- Can be used with oil or as a dry technique
- Can be used through a towel or through clothing
- Cannot be used on all muscles
- Can take time for therapists to learn to lean onto their clients when using elbows
When Is the Use of Elbows Indicated?
- When you need to apply very deep, localized pressure and do not have massage tools available and do not wish to use your fingers and thumbs
- For the treatment of trigger spots
- When your wrists and elbows are at risk of damage through overuse or if you are hypermobile in these joints
- When you wish to incorporate a compressive technique into a chair massage routine
- When you need to provide massage through clothing, such as at a sporting event
Read more about Deep Tissue Massage by Jane Johnson.