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5 Reasons to Try the Side-Lying Position (Posted on May 8, 2013 by Dianna)

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Not every client is comfortable lying prone, or even supine.

Pregnant clients come time mind first, of course. But there are any number of reasons why side-lying might be preferable. Back problems are one. Recent surgery. I have a number of female clients with large and/or sensitive breasts who simply cannot lie comfortably in the prone position. Even something as simple as stuffed-up sinuses from seasonal allergies can make lying face-down a difficult proposition. When it comes to the choice between giving an uncomfortable (or possibly even contraindicated) massage and using the side-lying position, the best decision is obvious.

Turning over can be a big ordeal for clients with mobility issues.One client may have difficulty turning over due to pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, or neuropathy. Another might have muscle weakness or paralysis. An ear infection can cause vertigo and make the process feel frightening and unsafe. Turning onto the side from the supine position is much less physically demanding than completing the entire flip into the supine position. And if your client cannot turn at all and you are limited to one position for the duration of the massage, side-lying will give you access to both anterior and posterior muscles.

Side-lying can give you easier access to certain muscles.
Quadratus lumborum, that tricky posterior-yet-abdominal muscle, is one example. The side-lying position can also help you to mobilize the scapula without fighting gravity and enable you to work more easily with the muscles beneath and around it. We get caught up in the posterior=prone anterior=supine dichotomy, but our bodies are three-dimensional. Sometimes coming in from the side is the perfect solution.

If your massage is falling into a rut, adding side-lying work can dramatically change your massage without requiring entirely new techniques.
If you do primarily Swedish massage, you can keep doing Swedish massage. If you are into neuromuscular therapy, keep doing that. Performance massage, clinical massage, relaxation massage … any one of these can benefit from the addition of side-lying work. You don’t have to abandon who you are as a massage therapist in order to bring a little freshness to your routine.

It’s comfy.There’s a reason why so many people sleep on their sides, and it’s not because of the therapeutic value. Add a couple of well-placed pillows and your client will not only have excellent alignment, but a relaxed position that the could stay in for hours if necessary. And no matter what kind of massage you provide, a relaxed client is a responsive client.

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