Massage therapists typically treat those who are normal weight or overweight, and they know how to position and work on these body types. However, since such a large portion of the American population is obese, it is important for a massage therapist to be able to deal with this group of people and be able to give them the proper care that they deserve.
What is obesity?
Although it is often used as a derogatory term, obesity is a clinical term used to specify people who have a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. The BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Today it is fairly easy to calculate this through various online calculators and healthcare/weight loss websites, so it is possible to determine who fits into that category. Heavy-set patients can range anywhere from 300 to 500 pounds, and sometimes they are quite tall as well.
Why do heavy-set clients need massages?
People who have extra pounds to carry around can develop many issues over the years. Their knees, hips, neck, lower back, feet, and other areas are more prone to aches and pains. Their muscles and bones may become weaker, and their range of motion also becomes limited because of the extra weight they carry. Most obese people also suffer from high blood pressure. As a result, most are in need of massage therapy to help with the pain and to increase the range of motion.
The sad part is that most massage therapists are not equipped with the knowledge to help these clients. Most clients complain that only their middle area receives attention during a massage while the rest is forgotten.
How to appropriately position obese people for a proper massage
Heavy-set clients mostly have more girth and so ride much higher off the table. This means it is much more difficult for the therapist to be in a comfortable position where they can easily work their muscles and apply adequate pressure. Thus, it is important to position them much lower. If you’ve gone as low as the table would go, you might want to consider using a mat on the floor.
At times, heavy-set patients may have issues lying on their back or on their front as this may cause breathing problems. In these cases, you might want to position them on their side and work on them seated on a chair or stool. This will also make it easier for you to work your body mechanics more easily.
It is also important for the therapist to pay attention to his or her own postures and form, which is important when performing a massage and can go awry when working with heavy-set clients. Keep your body neutral and your wrists straight so they don’t twist or bend back. Also, bend at the knees when moving a body part for the range of motion, as each limb can be quite heavy. If you keep your body in line with the client’s body, you can reduce the chance of injuring yourself.