Massage is for more than just the muscles. The skin, the fascia, and the lymphatic system are all affected, as well. Even the “boney landmarks” of the body—the knees, elbows, and the little knobs around the ankles benefit from, and can contribute to, a satisfying and relaxing massage experience. During a recent massage session, the therapist was working along the muscles of my lower leg. As he moved skillfully upwards, he jumped right over my knee and proceeded to glide along my quads.
“Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on, Buddy,” I said. “What about my knees? You just skipped right over them.” I then gave him a little reminder about the basics of muscle anatomy. Where the ends of the muscles attach to the bones with the tendons, there are these little points called Golgi tendon organs. Stimulating these Golgi tendon organs actually triggers the relaxation response in the muscles.
When you take the time to trace with your fingers around someone’s knee, elbow, or the malleolus of their ankle, it can actually be one of the most delicious, relaxing components of any massage. If you are just starting as a massage therapist, or if you’ve been practicing for years, and you find that you have developed a tendency to skip these parts and work mainly in the belly of the muscles, think again. Give those boney landmarks just as much attention, and your clients will be delighted.