For the side bend with client sitting: if I am smaller than my client, is it okay to position myself behind the client, closer to where my knee rests on the client's thigh and still be able to offer support for the client's back? I would be comfortable doing this on a larger person, if the person is sitting more upright on his/her own and I could adjust myself this way. ?
You're right about body contact! If it is natural to me, it is natural and comfortable to my clients. There is nothing like being left "hanging" in the open with no support from the therapist! It is also important for cliients to be able to feel where you are in relation to them, I think.
I guess you had to experiment with this one and get some feedback how it feels. If you can do the stretch and the client feels supported, then it is fine. It is hard for me to replicate this since I am rather tall. Size differences are often an issue in Thai Massage and adjustments have to be made if you want to do such a stretch. Unlike other stretches, there aren't many good alternatives to the side bend, at least none that I like and that are well supported.
Thank you, Shama. I'll play with it.
Spinal twists are excellent and unusual in massage. I use a version of #8 on the table for people smaller than me, because I have little lower body leverage with the table. It works great and people love it, once they experience what is happening. I'd rather do this on the floor, but am still working on getting clients to try Thai massage on the floor. (I am not comfortable doing the most stretches on the table--the body mechanics are not good for me and I feel it is risky for me to do. Kudos to those who feel comfortable and can do it!)
I had another discussion with a student here in the forum about getting clients to try Thai Massage on the floor. Bottom line is that if you give people a choice, and they are confronted with something unusual, the answer will generally be "no".
In my 15 years of doing Thai Massage I have done every single session on the floor, and nobody ever questioned it. That's because I never gave anyone a choice. I just work on the floor, that's it. If you are thinking about getting clients to try the floor, I suggest that you use a different approach. Just tell them that you do Thai Massage on the floor, period. If possible, don't do this in the same room where the massage table is in plain view.
You will find that you will encounter much less resistance to the idea than you think. I have never, not even once, encountered any resistance to working on the floor. That's because I had no question about it in my own mind, aside from the fact that you can do a lot more on the floor with Thai Massage like many stretches, as you mentioned already.
The various levels of intensity or stretch, especially Spinal Twist #10, are part of what makes Thai massage so wonderful and available to many people, no matter their flexibility!
Spinal Twist #11 is a great chest opener and mid-back release! This is what many of my clients need! It offers great stability with the client prone and my leg resting across his/her hips! The degree to which the chest is opened can be varied nicely here, too.
I was doing chair massage at a wellness fair for a local community college the other day. Many receivers of my massage were impressed and wanted to know what kind of massage I was doing for them. Most of it was Thai massage adapted for the chair.
For Full Contact Tractioning Versions where the practitioner is sitting behind the client with client's back resting on practitioner's chest, a thin pillow can be placed between the client and practitioner (for practitioners who are nervous about this much contact).
Sometimes, I like to use a soft tubular pillow to give the client more of a bend on either side of the spine and not just straight traction. I have had to learn not to worry about this type of contact with clients, but the pillow is an option until you get to this point.
That's what makes Thai massage my favorite modality, Shama! I am grateful to "play" with Thai massage each chance I get. Every session, there is something new to learn!
Traction in Child's Pose tractions the almost in sections--starting with the low back and working up towards the mid-back. I like the client participation with the client's hands around my ankles--sometimes clients enjoy being a more active part--this one is for them!
Yes, "playing" with Thai Massage is lots of fun. There is always something new, a different angle on something, a new modification, a shift in your position, a better way of transitioning, a better touch etc. It doesn't matter if you have done Thai Massage for 1 year or 20 years, there is no point where you know it all.
Before this Thai Back Massage course, I haven't used the side/edge of my hand. It is effective to release tension between the scapula and spine--using one hand under the arm and on the pecs to support and circle the shoulder and the edge of the other hand to move the tissue toward the spine or to stabilize it against the movement. It's a great way to engage the tissue here and to move the erectors toward the spine--when I feel those "guitar" strings developed along the spine.
I also find it feels good to clients when doing stretching to use a "1-2-3" method; using the same stretch three times. Taking the body out of the stretch enough to allow the muscles to relax to resting length before taking it back into the stretch, according to clients, feels better than keeping the body in a stretch and trying to increase the stretch from there.
Thank you for the explanation on "wholistic" and therefore not "quick" treatment of the body! This is helpful to me and will be helpful to clients to understand why Thai massage is not like taking a pill. Thai massage doesn't remove the symptoms by targeting only the symptoms as a pill is made to do. Massage takes into account the entire being and how one part effects another, therefore, massage may take a few sessions to help alleviate the situation.
Yes, the edge of the hand is not used much in massage, and not in traditional Thai Massage either. However for my style I have developed more ways of using your body since I find them very useful. They help you to access more areas of the body effectively and they help preserve your hands since it does not strain the wrist or the thumbs. The knuckles are another very useful way of using the hands.
I like to use my knuckles as you have taught, too! My clients tell me it feels good and I can feel the tissue relax-especially between the shoulder blade and spine.
To turn someone from supine to sidelying, I have also placed the foot of the leg closest to me on the other side of the body--so the ankle is next to the outside of the opposite knee with the foot as flat on the floor as possible. So the knee is bent with the foot on floor next to the outside of the opposite knee. Then I place my hand just below (superior) to the bent knee and my other hand takes hold of the arm or wrist on the side closest to me. I raise the arm across the client's body while pushing the client's thigh away from me, moving the client onto his side so his back is to me. This way I don't have to actually lift the client's leg--just position and roll the client away from me with my body weight. It's quite nice if done smoothly.
It's seems a good idea to softly tell the client I am going to move the into a new position so they are not surprised when their whole body moves. It depends on the depth of relaxation of the client.
I also do all I am going to do: warm up the muscles, acupressure and stretch with the client in one position before moving his to another position. That way the client is only moved the minimal number of times during a session. If a client is very relaxed, I might no use the seated position at all.
It's quite amazing that I have never seen any massage therapist use knuckles although they work so well!
I rarely use the seated position in my sessions, only if I really want to use some specific techniques that don't work in any other position. But the sitting position is not ideal for a really relaxing session. It is better for primarily therapeutic applications.
It sounds like you came up with a nice variation for moving a client around. If it works well for you and the client, then it is right! Your version seems to be ideal for smaller therapists moving larger clients. I might just include this in a future update.