Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nails, and the Lack Thereof

People and cats are both born with nails. My cat’s claws get clipped so she can’t scratch me.  Mine get clipped so I can’t scratch you.
It wasn’t always this way. Back in my corporate life, I had manicures. I painted my nails bright red or pale blue or even seafoam green. I was girly. Then I went to massage school and found out that, to gain a new career, I would have to give up my nails.
It’s an unexpected downside to doing massage. For many women, beautiful fingernails are essential. Nails can be painted a variety of colors, be adorned with jewels, even have little pictures painted on them! Nice nails matter.
As massage therapists, we give all that up. Part of my essential  work equipment is an emery board. Before doing massage, I pull out my trusty emery board and file down my nails until I can run the nails of one hand against the opposite palm and feel only the padded tips of my fingers.
Think about it. A massage therapist uses her hands for long effleurage strokes, for the lifting/twisting/ rolling maneuvers of petrissage, and for deep friction. For a client with a mobile scapula, I might reach under the vertebral border with my fingertips to work the rhomboid attachments, or even go deep enough for subscapularis. I can’t take a chance of scratching the client. Bye-bye, manicures.
But there are some things you just can’t do when you don’t have nails. There are a couple pieces of scotch tape on my dining room wall that are going to be there until either I change careers, or the drywall is replaced. You need nails to scratch them off.
And don’t ever drop coins on the floor. Trust me, if I drop a dime, it’s gone.  It’s impossible to pick it up without nails.
At least when I take the cat in for a claw-clipping, I can look her in the furry face and say, sweetie, I feel your pain. Just remember my small sacrifice if you see me drop some coins. Help me pick them up, won’t you?

Roseann Magda

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