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Angie Berthelsen's Complete Thai Massage Notes
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Shama Kern
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September 26, 2019 - 11:39 pm
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It sounds like you got a few 'aha' moments out of this session. Smile

Definitely overthinking will kill the spirit of the whole thing for you and the client. Don't worry too much about forgetting something. Just focus on doing those moves well that you DO remember. The more you practice, the better you will remember all the moves. But for now it is more important that you work with feeling, stay relaxed, and try to do well whatever you remember. If you forget something, so be it. Next time, or when you rewatch a video, you will remember more. In other words, take it easy on yourself. Smile

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Angie Berthelsen
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September 27, 2019 - 12:31 am
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Module 14

 

I am definitely guilty of not maintaining body contact with my clients, I find transitioning difficult. Are there times when it is ok to break contact or should we not break contact for the entire session? When you say the client should not notice I am moving around, I know I am definitely failing at that!

Would the hip rocking be ok to do on someone that had a hip replacement (not a recent one, but one that has healed)?

I'm anxious to try the quad hip flexor stretch but worry about clients with no flexibility. Trying to find comfort in discomfort when trying these new techniques. 

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September 27, 2019 - 1:50 am
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It is a better experience if you do not break body contact. But if you do, it is not like a major disaster. Smile

It is a great feeling if you can move around a client in a smooth and flowing way. It is good for your confidence and flow of the session, and it feels better for the client. When a therapist breaks body contact with me when I get a session, it always takes me out of my massage 'trance' state, and I go into mental mode, thinking what is happening and what the therapist will do next.

Hip rocking should be fine even for people with hip replacements. If it has healed properly and does not cause any problems, it should be okay. But still, it is always a good idea to ask the client how it feels to them. I have had clients with hip or knee replacements who didn't feel right about certain techniques for whatever reasons, and then of course I don't do it but adjust and do something else. But if you don't ask, you don't know.

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Angie Berthelsen
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September 30, 2019 - 11:25 pm
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Module 15

I am so happy to get to this module and learn more about the abdominal area. I am very, very intimidated when it comes to touching this area on my clients. The double palm, push-pull looks relaxing to simply watch! I am nervous to try the pushing the rib cage technique, it just feels very personal but I will give it a shot. 

Palm circling on the sternum seems like it may be tricky, I think I am a little nervous to touch someone there and wonder if they are comfortable or not. 

I have been working on listening with my hands and it definitely makes a difference in how engaged I am and how good of a job I am doing. 

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Angie Berthelsen
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September 30, 2019 - 11:55 pm
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Module 16

Does the shoulder lift and lean work with clients that are much bigger than you or is there another option? 

I really do appreciate the constant reminder to move with your breath and the reminders on how to position your body. When I first started doing thai massage, I would be in pain after one 60 minute session. I wasn't quite at the point where I know how to use my breath and my body weight. 

I love the shoulder techniques while the client is laying face up. I tend to ignore the shoulders until the client is lying face down. I am excited to practice it. 

The shoulder row boat looks wonderful but do you ever get self conscious that your foot is almost in their face?

The arm triangle, swinging etc.. techniques will be something I have to practice a lot. All great techniques that get me out of my comfort zone. 

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October 1, 2019 - 12:50 am
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It's true - there are some techniques in Thai Massage that get you out of your comfort zone, until you manage to expand your comfort zone! Typically the therapists are much more worried about what the client might think than the clients themselves. They generally appreciate being touched in areas which are avoided by most therapists.

I have received a lot of appreciative feedback about sacrum and chest work, and I have had some amazing results with abdominal work. It never made sense to me to basically exclude most of the entire front of the torso from the bodywork. Generally clients appreciate this 'unusual' work and it helps you to stand out from the crowd as a therapist.

And yes, the weight of a client does make a difference. The heavier clients get, the more you need to exclude some techniques which stress your body too much. Luckily there are so many techniques in Thai Massage that you can always find something to replace a technique which is too hard on you due to client weight issues. Later in this course you will find LOTS of shoulder-area techniques, so you will have many choices.

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 17, 2019 - 9:29 pm
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Module 17

 

I used the alternating circular arm elephant walking technique during one of my yoga classes last night and it was a hit! Everyone was so relaxed. I also used the techniques you showed us on the wrists and fingers. I had one student tell me it helped with the ache she has in her hands. 

The squeeze pull technique is great since it does not require thumb pressing (I have arthritis in my thumbs). 

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 17, 2019 - 9:57 pm
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Module 18 

 

Good news is, since my post about not being great at transitioning and not breaking contact with my client, I've gotten better! This video definitely reminds me of techniques to use and I know I will keep getting better. I find that it could be as simple as lightly touching their hand as I move around. 

I really liked that you mention being relaxed so the client can relax and not feel tense. I have talked with clients during the entire massage (their choice) and I did notice that they struggled to relax. I've been very mindful of my mindset and my breathing the last couple sessions I've done and wow, it makes such a difference. A couple clients actually commented on it. 

I realized I've been doing the alternating arm lift wrong. You very clearly show that you don't completely lower one shoulder before lifting the other one. I was lowering it first. I am so appreciative of this clarification!

Looking forward to trying the spinal twists and the figure 8 shoulder move!

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October 17, 2019 - 11:49 pm
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I am glad to hear that you are able to re-watch and refine the techniques and get better at it. Typically this is the way it works - the longer you stay with the training and the more you learn, the more it will turn into a flow instead of an effort. Your clients are confirming that, it seems! Smile

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 18, 2019 - 12:50 am
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Module 19 

Love learning these new, gentle hip stretches. I have a few older clients with very tight hips. The nice thing about the hamstring and hip stretches, along with the hip rocking you show in the beginning of the video is that they are gentle enough for my older clients. 

Great review of shoulder, arm and hand techniques. I seem to forget some of them when I'm working on a client. The comment about the arm swinging freely if someone is relaxed or shoulders are loosened up is a very helpful tool. Sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is tense or just so messed up in their shoulders that their range of motion is lost. 

I again appreciate the reminders to use our breath, think softness and use our body. Just being mindful of these 3 things has changed how I give my massages. The quantum touch technique is definitely going to be a game changer too. 

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Shama Kern
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October 18, 2019 - 1:21 am
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You mentioned some very important elements here that fly in the face of this erroneous idea that Thai Massage is a painful system of fairly extreme stretches. I like your post so much that I shared it in our facebook group. Smile

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 18, 2019 - 1:30 am
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Module 20

 

I have been nervous to use my elbow on people but your comment "think softness" is very helpful. 

Traction and contraction using my body weight feels very unnatural. My instinct is to just pull using my upper body ( I know, I know, bad habit). I will continue working on this 

The calf and Achilles tendon stretches look very relaxing and simple. The lean, squeeze and roll technique seems like something that would work great on a client of mine with very tight, sore calves. I was really paying attention to the positioning of your body and how you move when using these techniques. I realized after watching you do the elephant walking, that I tend to strain my shoulders by not being directly above my client. 

The adjustment you made with the pillow is helpful. I definitely need to bring in more props when working on someone. 

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 18, 2019 - 2:10 am
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Module 21

I am sometimes concerned my client isn't comfortable on their stomach, even when they tell me they are. Knowing how they're feet should be positioned and to look at their knees are great tools. 

The hamstring stretch where you're sitting in between her legs is something that is outside of my comfort zone. How do you suggest getting past doing stretches where you are so close to someone, if that makes sense? I am always worried I am going to make them uncomfortable. 

Pressing is painful and leaning feels good is going to be my new mantra! This will help me remember to lean because I do have a tendency to press. 

Seeing the prone leg triangle hip stretch helped make sense of the sen lines. I like having the option to deepen that stretch by putting my hand on the glutes. 

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October 19, 2019 - 2:24 am
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In my experience the therapists are the ones who are worried about getting too close while the clients are just enjoying the massage. In general people care very little about you getting too close as long as they like and trust you. That's something you can project even to a new client. I have a system for that which you will see in module 35.

There is a good amount of body contact in Thai Massage. This is totally necessary because without it you would never get the leverage to move people around without overexerting yourself, and you would never be able to apply your body weight effectively. In all my years of doing Thai Massage I have never worried about 'getting too close', and neither have my clients. This is a concern which you will need to let go. If you hang on to this concept, you will project it onto your clients, and then they will feel that there is something wrong.

The fact is that this close body contact is a huge benefit in Thai Massage. It allows even small therapists to do effective and powerful work on much larger clients.

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 25, 2019 - 10:54 pm
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Module 22

 

I appreciate you mentioning the knee when showing the prone heel to butt stretch, being mindful of it not twisting, because knee issues seem to keep many of my clients from doing certain leg stretches. I also like the reminder to be mindful of their flexibility when doing this stretch and gauging how deep they can go into it. 

Never thought to bring the legs wider to do the power stretch getting deeper into the hips and quads!

I know you talked about getting close to people and being comfortable doing that and I am definitely taking what you said to heart but sitting on someone is tough for me! However, I will make a point of stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying it. I do like knowing that where I sit is important to the intensity of the stretch. 

The hip lift stretch was intimidating because of placing my knee in the butt so I appreciate the tip to feel around before placing my knee down. These little tips are very helpful reminders. 

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 25, 2019 - 11:08 pm
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Module 23

Great instruction how to feel your way around the sacrum and finding the grooves that you mention. I never thought to focus on this part of the body with such detail. The thumb rocking seems like a great technique to use here. I had someone try the sacrum percussion on me and it was great for my low back pain. I also found that having someone do these techniques on me helps me fully understand them and I think will help me when I am working on my clients. Kn owing how if feels, makes me better at my job. Fading out of these techniques is good advice and seems like it will help the client stay more relaxed. 

The techniques used on the glutes, especially the knee rocking look so relaxing I almost fell asleep while watching it. Do you ever use a tennis ball on your clients glutes or would using something like that during a thai massage be unnecessary or frowned upon? 

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 25, 2019 - 11:19 pm
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Module 24

 

Since I have arthritis in my hands, I not only appreciate the reminders to use your body weight but also that there are alternative techniques to using your thumbs and bending your wrists. The small rapid palm circles is much safer for me then using my thumbs and pressing along the spine or other parts of the back. 

I feel like when my client is face up, I am comfortable, I know enough techniques etc.. but the minute they flip onto their belly, I feel overwhelmed, mostly because I know that I am going to mist likely hurt myself because of using my thumbs too much and not being mindful of my potion and then my shoulders hurt. With that said, this is one of my favorite videos because of these techniques you show that do NOT hurt my body in the process. You talk about bending the arms a little, relaxing the arms and more tips to help keep my body protected. I keep saying it but I need these reminders!

I've been working on increasing pressure as I breath out and decreasing as I breath in and I've been finding that when I am mindful of my breath and my rhythm,my clients breath slows and they seem to relax more. Such a simple change but very effective. 

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 25, 2019 - 11:41 pm
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Module 25

Separating the back into 2 halves is very helpful for me. When I first starting offering thai massage, the back was intimidating to me because I always wondered where to start. 

I like the reminder to explore the back and find the are that needs the most work. Simple tip but very important for me to hear. Leaning into the traps is something that I've done on my clients many times and they love it! Another simple technique but very effective. 

You mention not using the elbows on the upper back just on the low back, which makes sense. What are other areas of the body that would benefit from using elbows on them? I like this technique because like you ssaid, it gives you more power, especially in areas like the low back which tend to be stiff and sore. 

I have no idea how to work with my knees and have never tried it. I watched this section of the video twice as I want to be very cautious when using my knees. The rocking techniques seem gentl enough that you could really use very little pressure if you needed to. 

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Shama Kern
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October 26, 2019 - 1:59 am
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I have never used a tennis ball on the glutes, but I have used a machine which is often called a 'massage hammer' which works quite well, especially on the back. I made a video about this which is posted somewhere in this course, but I will link to it again here:

Massage Hammer video

I am glad to hear that you found ways to work the back without hurting your hands. I am very conscious of this and always try to present therapist-friendly ways of working in my courses.

Elbow techniques can be used on the soles of the feet, on the hamstrings, on the glutes, on the back, on the arms, and even around the shoulders.

Knee techniques are equally useful. You will learn more about that in the bonus modules which are part of this course.

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Angie Berthelsen
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October 28, 2019 - 11:26 pm
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Module 26

I’ve been focusing on the area around the scapula with one of my clients and learning the “scapula lift: is very beneficial. The way you demonstrate it is much easier on the therapists body then they way I have been doing it. If I’ve taken anything from the back videos, it’s that I am working way too hard! I will try and incorporate using my forearm more. 

Spinal twists are a favorite of my yoga students so it’s nice to see new ways to do it for them while they relax. 

The cobra is a favorite of my current thai massage clients but I have always done it standing, I like the option to kneel.

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