What is Hands Free Massage?

If you’ve not done any Hands Free Massage Training or received a Hands Free Massage, it can be quite tricky to understand what HFM actually is, so continue reading (and watch the beginning of the video) and all will be revealed.

Hands Free Massage in a nutshell

Hands Free Massage encourages the use of forearms and elbows, to replace the use of your hands for the majority of massage (or other manual bodywork) whether that be for;

  • Warming or lengthening the tissues
  • Cross-fibre work
  • Sliding pressure
  • Stretches
  • Mobilisations
  • Oil and non-oil massage
  • Side lying and chair massage
  • Applying varying amount of pressure to tensions areas 
  • Working lightly when needed for clients who don’t like pressure 

Working mainly with your forearms and elbows, enables you to maintain your career as a massage practitioner by saving your thumbs and wrists, the most common areas of work-related strain.

It’s not only about your forearms, it’s about the rest of your body too

It’s not much good using your forearms and elbows, if you don’t know how to get your body behind them effectively. 

In fact, if you don’t learn to use your body in the specific way that supports Hands Free work, you are likely to begin straining your shoulders and back as you strive to apply firm pressure.

So learning the particular form of dynamic and effective bodyuse that we teach, is an integral part of learning Hands Free Massage to help you to work effectively, for you and your clients. More effective for you = longer career. More effective for clients = better massage.

So, there are no hands used at all for Hands Free Massage?
Oh yes, we very use our hands!

It is a common misconception that we don’t use our hands at all when we do Hands Free Massage. However, it’s quite the contrary! 

Our hands are a very important element of the massage. We use them to palpate, to work on small areas such as the face and to join HFM moves together. And we use our hands for the especially important element of ‘connection’ with our client. It’s a dance of moving from hands to forearms to hands to forearms.

On our trainings however, we do not include the use of feet and knees.

HFM is a springboard to help you protect your body from the long term strains of your profession thereby extending your career.

HMF is not an entity unto itself. In addition to adding a large repertoire of massage strokes to your toolkit, you learn practical principles which can be applied to your current massage skills and any future massage learning. So come and train with us to ensure the longevity of your career.

The 4 main elements of Hands Free Massage

  • The soft forearm (the fleshy inner forearm) for applying widespread general movement and pressure. It can be firm if need be and also you can work very lightly. Using your soft forearm is less effort than using your palm
  • The hard forearm (the ulna) provides a stronger tool for working more specifically and firmly (when appropriate) on large areas of tension
  • The elbows and bony areas around it for applying focused pressure in an appropriate, skilful way in order to save your fingers, thumbs and knuckles and work with minimum effort for maximum effect.
  • Dynamic body use and posture  – effectively supporting your HFM work with the least strain

And what does Hands Free Massage feel like?

Of course we are biased with this answer! We think it feels much better than receiving an entire massage with hands only. Forearms are bigger than hands, so there is more contact with the client. A realisation that happens often on our trainings is “oooooh, so clients actually get more massage for their money“. Yip, they sure do.

And because of this broader surface area, clients tend to feel very ‘ironed out’, even if you’ve needed to work lightly. From what we notice, clients tend to reach a deeper sense of relaxation and that can happen earlier into the massage too, than if only hands were being used.

You know that feeling when you change to your heavier weight duvet toward winter time, or put an extra blanket on the bed? You get into bed and the weight of the duvet comforts you into relaxation….that’s one of the resulting feelings of HFM.

When it comes to pressure, the pressure delivered with the forearm and elbow is more spread out than when using the point of a finger, so it’s easier for the clients tissues to soften and melt under this wider pressure.

Think about how a floor probably feels with a pointy table leg on it, “oww that hurts“. But if you put a coaster under the leg, the resulting spread out pressure will feel rather pleasurable with a bit more of an ‘oooooohhhhh aaaaahhhhhh’ type feeling.

With HFM skills in place, clients are often amazed at how deep you can work without it hurting. As Ida Rolf said “It’s not how deep you go, it’s how you go deep“.

In summary

Hands Free Massage will help you prevent overuse and strain of your hands, wrist and shoulders and the rest for your body too, while helping you to be more effective.

The way we (Darien and Leora) teach HFM allows you to become skilful and sensitive, dynamic and adaptive, effective and effortless. 

You learn how to

  • Use these ‘tools’ in a skilful, responsive way rather than ‘mashing’ the client
  • Monitor and adapt to the client’s build, comfort and responses
  • Use and move your body to support the work of your forearm and elbow 
  • Become effective with least amount of effort
  • Expand your repertoire and freshen your approach to massage
  • Blend and adapt these Hands Free Massage techniques smoothly into massage treatments where needed
  • Learn HF principles that you can apply to your present massage work and future learning

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