One of my clients may have a facet condition in the Lumbar area, but has not found any medical treatment for it. The usual massage techniques eased the condition but as yet haven’t removed it. It has become a puzzle, and I like to solve puzzles. Not improving a client’s health pushes me to learn more, to find something that does help.

Going back to the anatomy usually adds something useful, to which I can apply massage techniques in a new way.

Looking at the Lumbar vertebrae, specifically the facets, I noticed how they interlocked. The superior vertebra resting diagonally atop the lower vertebra. To open up a facet, the lower vertebra needs to be pushed anteriorly, or the higher vertebra pushed posteriorly.

To push a Lumbar vertebra posteriorly one would have to go through the abdomen, all the way through and that didn’t seem effective or pleasant for the client.

Pushing the lower vertebra anteriorly seemed much easier, with the client prone, but, gravity would bring the higher vertebra anteriorly too, following the pull of the lower vertebra.

A better result would be with the client supine and the therapist’s fingers underneath one vertebra, starting with the Sacrum, fingertips pushing anteriorly, while gravity helps to keep the higher vertebra in place. Gently does it, the fascia will release, the higher vertebra will stay in place and the facet open up. You might even place one hand on the abdomen pushing posteriorly to keep the higher vertebra in place, your fingers on the one lower vertebra enough to maintain an anterior push.

Yes it’s tiring, just fingertip pressure, taking your time, waiting until you feel a release before moving one vertebra higher. My preferred method is from the Craniosacral method, with the hand and arm aligned along the body, not across, with the client assisting by turning just a little to one side to allow my hand to slide higher, one vertebra at a time, fingertips on either side of the spinous process, before returning to a supine position.

It’s not the total answer, but it does seem to help my client, it’s one more massage tool, and maybe one step closer to permanently improving her health.


Paul Rice

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