The Sacrum is Often the Heart of the Matter

I’ve noticed that people are generally always surprised by how sore the edges of the sacrum are, and how much relief we can bring in easing the area open. A triangular shape framed between the large wings of the hip bones, the sacrum creates the sacroiliac joints by articulating with the ilium on either side, and even demands some attention as an artistic visual with its unique looking shape. This small piece of our skeletal system holds down some important jobs: an outlet for lower spinal nerves, a support holding the upper body’s weight while also helping to transmit it through the lower extremities into the ground, and a base supporting the upper spine. So it makes sense that this funny, knobby-feeling skeletal bone can run from being hypersensitive to the lightest massage pressure, to feeling eased in receiving touch, often truly creating a sigh of relief for people. With its important roles and structure always kept in mind (the nerves present, the lack of muscle density actually passing over the site), massaging the sacroiliac joints need care and consideration, with the pressure level very specific per individual and even different per side of the same individual.

As long as the client has not mentioned to avoid working on their sacrum, once you make contact with it, you’ll start to get a sense fairly quickly for how the area feels to them. A nice way to start is by placing fingertips on the center of the sacrum first, before gliding off the rough formation and into soft tissue near the edge, noticing how different the bony triangle feels compared to the tissue connecting along its sides. Taking these steps with deliberation before beginning to explore the tissue, conveys a solid sense both of your awareness of the area and of your client to said client. This alone can create a calming effect in a generally overstressed spot. Moving next into massaging the tissue, gently use supported fingertips to create circular or parallel friction along the sacral edge, working superior to inferior and noticing subtle differences in each fraction of an inch along the way, lingering with more time in areas of increased density or soreness. Light static pressure can also be relieving if the tissue has hypertonic spots wanting to spasm. However the area allows you in, it can be wonderful to receive this kind of focus here, like the sweet reassurance of a loving hand placed upon slumped shoulders.

I love that kindness, attentiveness, and relief can all be brought to the sacrum if intention is sustained within the massage. There’s a lot of beauty in this: honoring and caring for an area simultaneously strong and sensitive, with the grace and warmth of knowing our client is allowing us to address this space. Thinking about how the sacrum sits just enough out of easy reach on the posterior plane of the lower body, yet also high enough that reaching back with your own hands is awkward, it’s usually lost to our own attempts to calm it. Allowing another to address this central hub of the body becomes a lovely sharing of trust given by one and acknowledged by the other, and that aforementioned sigh of relief from the body becomes palpable to our very fingertips.

 

Copyright © by Lara Stillo 2016

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Author:

I have been licensed and working full time in the massage therapy field since 2001, teaching and writing MT courses since 2006. My experience has led me through working with several different chiropractors, hotel and boutique spas, corporate massage, a climbing gym wellness center, private practice, two different massage schools, one acupuncture/massage college, and my current capacity of working with physical therapy clinics and their patients. And the learning continues…

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