Were you taught side-lying work in massage school? Maybe schools are more advanced now, which I have seen little indication of, but twenty years ago I knew squat about working in a side lying position unless it was pregnancy massage. And most therapists coming right out of school are not comfortable massaging more than a few inches above the knee, much less all the way up to the groin muscles!

I knew very little about how to do medial and lateral bodywork and was not comfortable doing it until I went to Rolfing school. As a petite therapist, even in Rolfing school I had issues being able to effectively address the medial and lateral side of the body from the floor.

That’s why I love Anterior/Side-lying(A/S). It is a must take class for learning more clinical barefoot work that addresses the lateral and medial planes of the hips, torso and legs. It’s great for runners, CrossFitters, clients with hip and back pain, and postural issues. It’s also a great alternative for clients who cannot lie in a prone position.

With Side lying, I have found that working with ribcage restrictions in the lateral position can effectively ease pain and relieve stiffness in the back. For instance, the Quadratus Lumborum can have several trigger points and myofascial restrictions that cause lower back and hip pain. When you release these restrictions, the body gains more depth and the spine is able to flex laterally. The QL is not easily nor effectively addressed from the posterior. But from the side-lying position the Quadratus Lumborum, Latissimus Dorsi, and Serratus Anterior/Posterior are addressed quite effectively. The broader strokes and compression of the foot is much more comfortable to the client than pokey digits, knuckles or elbows.

Then there are the medial, lateral and anterior legs. I have a couple of male clients over 250 pounds, even 300 pounds, with legs like tree trunks. That’s more than double my body weight. For me there’s no forward bending over the massage table or using my elbows trying to penetrate those larger muscle groups. With Ashiatsu Anterior, I can effortlessly deliver all the pressure they want and more using my full body weight in an upright and open position.

As for the rest of the body, in A/S we teach you all the anterior strokes for the arms, chest and upper neck. I don’t usually have a problem delivering these strokes with hands and sometimes prefer to do so on smaller clients, but it’s nice to have the option of using my feet when I encounter a larger client that needs the pressure. This class has been invaluable to me as a Rolfer. I use my feet quite often in my Rolfing sessions when addressing the sideline, and it has come in quite handy.

Anterior/Side-lying is usually taught on the 4th day after Barefoot Basics(BB) so that you can incorporate some anterior barefoot work into your new repertoire. Some people can handle another day, others are totally fried and their “bucket is full”. It totally depends on the individual. I like to teach Anterior/side-lying before DF2. You have had time to perfect your Barefoot Basics strokes and are fresh and eager to learn more.

My last A/S class I had 1 student stay from BB and 4 previous students come back. While the BB student did well it was obvious that previous BB students grasped the material a lot quicker and with more ease. The advantage to taking A/S immediately after class is that the therapist can now deliver the same depth on the anterior side of the body as she or he can on the back side, while using less effort than with the hands.

So is it worth staying after BB to take? Again, it totally depends on the individual. But I can guarantee you that you will get a whole lot more out of it by coming back after you’ve had a few months of BB under your belt. There’s so much valuable info packed into this 1-day class it’s unbelievable. As your barefoot skills evolve and develop you’ll continue to be dazzled by its power and application. It’s a real gem!