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Conor Hogan`s Complete Thai Massage Course
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conorhogan
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September 10, 2014 - 5:29 pm
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Well, I`ve just studied the opening introductory documents, studied the first module document and watched the first module video over a couple of times. I have also opened the video up after studying it and got to know the various skills, and techniques by trying to memorise it all next to my massage client. I feel that being on the massage mat, in the physical massage area and watching the video with the client will create a good way to memorise the information and help me when I work through the course. I hope to work through the course every 3 days in the same way. 

 

Mostly, throughout this course I`ll be hoping to base most of practical massage work on a single client. That said, as I become more knowledgeable, experienced and confident in my massage I will probably have more people partake in the learning with me. I look forward to learning and to helping people. 

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Shama
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September 11, 2014 - 1:00 am
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If you can work on several people you will get a better feel for Thai Massage work. Often something works fine on one person, but not on another one. The size, weight and degree of stiffness or flexibility plays a much bigger role in Thai Massage than in Swedish Massage since you are moving the body around in so many different ways.

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September 11, 2014 - 4:43 am
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Shama,

 

Thanks for that, yes I've enlisted the boy`s father who is a totally different build, age and has a history of other injuries! So its a good start. I look forward to working on him also through the course and to compare. Hopefully I`ll get some more soon! Can`t wait for the course to flow!

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conorhogan
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September 11, 2014 - 8:12 pm
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Two very interesting things that I learned from module 1 ( other than the defined labels for different positions)  which I  forgot to mention yesterday but I have reflected on today is that when massaging the therapist does not use their specific hand or finger muscles but concentrates on their body weight as the massager of the client. I find this really interesting. I know myself having done many Thai massages that a thorough but firm pressure from the practitioner is deep and long lasting. But a pressure point almost pain like massage is not what I have ever experienced. I have experienced many, many other therapies and body work and Thai massage never ever felt pin point painful in any way. More it felt a deep gradual wide leaning sensation that felt like it was evaporating my inner whole muscle stress in its own natural time. I don’t know if this makes sense but its how I describe the feeling as oppose to the other many therapies and massages that I have ever been a patient of.

The other thing is that by using body weight it assure s that a s a therapist I  will not burn out. I have very strong hands and fingers and I have used them on many people before in massage and they have all told me that I have a great " pressure". Now this is great for other  therapies and body work and for specific injuries but now I know for sure it is not Thai massage. But, although it is great in other massage routines it can be really tiresome on the therapist. Even myself, I have found that with strong digits, hands, wrists and forearms, a light touch and constant arm/ wrist pressure it wears me out! So, now I realise that Thai massage does not require that it will instantly allow me to become better, massage more often and have a better shelf life as a therapist!

 

Module 2:

 

Thai "yoga" massage is the same as "Thai" massage well this was great to learn today!

 

Traditional massage can be adapted to our own way of massaging. This is how I understand this concept. I mean, everyone is different. Some are tall, others small, stiff, flexible, unwell, diseased, injured, old, young and all people have different bodies and ailments. Thai massage and yoga as a healing therapy allow the practitioner to help the body and mind heal through using touch and stretching techniques. So as I understand it “ traditional “ massage needs to be accepted and known and learned by the practitioner but it also needs to be adapted to suit the individual massage client. Everyone is different and their ailments are different to everyone else. Becoming more experienced and skilled with traditional methods, skills and education in mind and using it to benefit the person that you have is the ability and judgement of the practitioner. This is a huge responsibility.

 

Ergonomics: Today my massage, though on the floor and with a solid but soft padding underneath the client was tricky. His shoes had been left to the rear of his toes and when I tried to do a knee flex I realised that my body positioning was now altered by the shoes being in the place that they were. Simply put the shoes were in the way! Yes, they were out of the clients way but they were not out of my way fully. The next time, in a day or two when I massage I am going to make sure that  I will have at least my leg length of space away from the clients body free so I can shift my body either way and for the correct alignment of my body which in turn will properly help my client.

The  Chi Gong technique thought me to separate my knees. Today and the first day, I habit of having my knees touching. I realise now by opening my knees the clients hips seem more open immediately and when the rocking motion begins it allows the hips a greater range of inner and outer rotation which  can only open the hips more. Come to think the knees and the thigh bone from the tibia and fibula have more room to shake and elongate from each other and through the knee. This has to be good for the inner and outer knee also as it allows the knees ultimately become more flexible and thus able to withstand more twisting and turning when the client eventually runs/ twists/ turns if they participate in athletic activity. Also, I notice that by lifting my hands and opening my knees will allow the client have more horizontal weight on their buttocks which allows their own body weight to massage their buttocks against the ground. This too opens the hips, distresses the lower back and remove massive tension from the gluteus maximus which are the biggest muscles in the lower  limbs! What a change. And now and aha moment, I get it, after re watching the video again after the massage I`ll do it even better again because its my hips that ought to move and NOT my hands and arms. Great!

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Shama
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September 12, 2014 - 12:14 am
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Wow! This was a very detailed in depth progress report! Smile

Regarding the "pin point" pressure, you will see later in the course that there are two options for applying pressure in Thai Massage. One is the direct linear pressure on one spot, and the other is a "motion" or "rocking" pressure which distributes the pressure over a larger area. They both have their purpose and depend on the client's body and sensitivity to discomfort or pain.

Like you pointed out, we encounter many different body types in our work, and the art is to know which techniques work for whom. Although many Thai Massage therapists use a kind of "one size fits all" type of approach, this is not an advanced way of working.

You will see that I offer many alternatives for working on different kinds of people. My motto is that the Thai Massage techniques are options to choose from, not fixed sequences that are done on everyone. Smile

By the way, the way how you spelled your last name on your certification registration with those symbols on top of the letters - I am not sure if that can be reproduced with our certification software. Is there a way to spell your last name without those symbols?

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September 15, 2014 - 5:33 pm
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Module 3: Thai Foot Massage

 

My one consistent memory from having Thai massages done over an intense period is that there is always one point in my left foot that really benefits from massage. It is also a point of extreme pressure and release. This is due to the pressure of how I mechanically use my body and the way that my body stands, walks and moves on its feet.

I`ve always felt as if its pin point, so that it must be the therapists thumbs or fingers that were apply the pressure, but once again it is not. So that makes me think and appreciate that this pressure is simply the pressure within my feet and it`s just that the therapists are able to locate them using the general techniques. This really allows me to appreciate how the feet can be pressurised and thus the need for them to be properly massaged.

Today  I used the rotation of the feet by swivelling my body and grasping the clients in the three different positions. It was totally different that what I thought it would be. I also thought that by pressuring the feet from the inside towards the floor that it would naturally force an opening for the clients inside hips. From watching the video its not apparent that this is necessarily the case, as the ankle joined may have a wider rotation and flexibility. For one client today, the reported after that they sort of felt it in the hip opening whereas the other did not. Funny as one set of ankles was stiffer I felt (the one that didn’t feel the hip opening) so I guess there is a relationship with the ankles and the hips in this technique but  not in the way I originally thought.

 

Leaning forwards and leaning hands on the client’s front of feet and pressuring the big toes inwards presented with the client who also has tighter hips seem to change their breathing and an initial sort of panic tightening in the thigh area was felt by me.

I also learned that leaning down and then forward alternatively , say three times one way then three times the other way is the way to balance the stretching. Obviously no one should feel more open in one way and alternatively more closed in the other way – I presume this would be the outcome of as massage which only concentrated on a person’s one way of the ankle flexing or injury in this direction of movement.  I used to try and help the teenage boy that I regularly massage in this way as he has a lot of imbalances from overplay in sport, but as I`m not physical therapist in that way I now realise that it’s important to keep to the technique in the balanced way of moving in equal fashion.

Moving left to right like in the end of the video really challenged the teenage boys hips with his breathing again and in fact he nearly lifted his hips from the mat. Whereas as the person with the better hips was completely relaxed.

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September 16, 2014 - 12:47 pm
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There is a relationship between working on the feet/ankles and the hip. Moving the feet in and out rotates the leg in the hip joint. However you need to be careful with this since if someone has limited range of motion in the hip joint, then by bending the feet out you will twist the knee joint. 

Working on the feet/ankles will affect the hip joint to some degree, but for people with tight hip joints it is much more effective to use techniques which work on the hip joint more directly which will be covered later in the course.

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September 18, 2014 - 7:09 am
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The whole body engagement is a thing that I really must get better at. I tried to use the hips to today once again in the same way as in module 3 but found that my rhythm was off in comparison to the last session.  I just found that I was trying to over emphasis the hip movement and began to rotate my hips more rather than going from left to right. Then when working with today’s module 4 overemphasised my hip movements and slipped to the right and I ended up leaning my right hand too hard on the clients inside left ankle. Luckily my client was being held by his ankle and his toes or middle foot area was not being held. This assured that the ankle took the weight of my jerk weight and this client is a person who has good rotation in his ankles also. He was a bit shocked but understood my error, thankfully! I must be more aware by going easy and steady with my movements.

When using the hands placed to the inside the two ankles with a another   young male teen I found that he was unable to go with the ankle movement. He visibly winced. He seemed to resist and it felt as if he was protecting and injury. I asked him and he said he not have an injury jut that it felt tight in his inner hip, hamstring area. I wonder if I could use as bolster next time on the outside of the knee or hip while I lean on the inside ankles (this is with a straight leg)? After all with the bent knee after 13:30 seconds in the video I noticed how a bolster was used.

Or, as I did today just lay off on the force and pressure and respond to the clients request which he responded afterwards was better than my earlier leaning on his inner feet.

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September 18, 2014 - 5:48 pm
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That's why I always say that Thai Massage is an art. I requires good balance, coordination, and sensitivity. Using both hands with equal intensity is something which takes some practice to develop since we normally have one hand stronger than the other. However in Thai Massage they have to be exactly the same. It can feel quite irritating for a client if the pressure is different between the two hands.

Regarding the bolsters - this should not be necessary as long as you just work very gently. It is always better to start out very gently and then, once you have a good feeling for a technique, you can increase the pressure if it is appropriate. Actually working gently is much harder than working strongly in most cases since it requires much more sensitivity. 

The best way to deal with the issue of going too far or too strong is to get feedback from the client on a 1-10 scale. I cover this later in the course.

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September 22, 2014 - 8:37 pm
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Module 5:

I really didn’t know that you could warm up the muscles by rubbing them. Over the years as a amateur sportsman and athlete, a person that had many , many crippling injuries and one that had a vast variety of therapies done on me, a yet yesterday after watching the video of module 5 I learn that muscles can be warmed up using rubbing. 

Being flexible and intuitive as a therapist  to the individuals person and who may have one particularly tight or injured area over another is very interesting to me. Being a yoga teacher i know that its vital not to work too intensely on one area or series of asana as it can over balance a persons body and make them  injured in another area. However, i presume that working intuitively and flexibly as a therapist here means to  also realise that the massage must be done up to a certain point until the client has loosened up their area of tightness to be in harmony with the other parts of their body. One of my clients is  a teenage  boy, who is very sporty and he has really tight hips. He is attending a physiotherapist also. So as a massage therapist, yesterday i decided to concentrate more time on his hips than on his feet. His feet had felt soft and his ankles were presenting as full flexible rotation as described in module 3 and 4.

 

 Using the butterfly move was tricky to get into the position at first as i found that i had to use my own abdominal muscles to balance rather that to overbalance onto the clients groin area, which would have been painful on them! Obviously not the aim of the massage. My client, a middle aged man with  relatively good hip rotation seemed at ease with me using this technique in this area. So for him I did not spend a huge amount of time on warming him up. But the younger boy, who has tight hips, got the longer benefit of my new technique. Last week when i spent about ¾ the time on this boy I did not wrap my legs around him in the way shown in this video. I massaged from the side of his body and of course i used my fingers and wrists to apply the massage movement. Now using the butterfly yesterday with straight arms and back and legs wrapped around the client and being vertical it allowed me to go deeper  easier and for longer. I had absolutely not tired fingers or thumbs. It was great.

I had to watch this video 2-3 times before I really noticed the blocking of the foot prior to Butterfly. What a great technique! Really will help me with a person who has tender hips and feels they need to jerk or wince away. I can think of one such person.Laugh

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Shama
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September 22, 2014 - 9:47 pm
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I am not sure why you would need your abdominal muscles to balance a position. The intensity of a technique is controlled by the way how you use and position your body. There should be no need to balance a position with muscle effort.

Which technique are you referring to specifically?

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September 23, 2014 - 4:17 am
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What I mean here is for the split second when I lifted my knee off the ground ( beginning Butterfly), from outside the clients thigh area I needed to balance all my body weight on my other knee which is something I wouldn't be used to while also having to  have my moving knee go inside their legs. There was a slight moment where I felt I may become over balanced but in hindsight, I think I moved my knee too quickly and was , momentary, in danger of over balancing into their groin area.  I instead tensed my abdominal muscles to hold my split second balance before my knee then hit the ground inside the clients leg.

In essence I moved my knee far too quickly before I had correct balance on my balancing knee.

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September 23, 2014 - 4:40 pm
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Ok I get it - this is something which I am sure you will work out with a little more practice! Smile

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September 23, 2014 - 9:36 pm
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Module 6

What a break through! Today I used 100% of my body weight on the clients inner groin as in the video. It benefited me and the client a lot.

It aided me as it did not wear my thumbs out and it benefited the client as I’ve  noticed he tends to tense and wince about when initial warm up is done on his hips. But today with me placing myself seated inside his legs and having his foot pointing out I learned to be more in control of using all my body weight and he did not react badly. In fact he reacted much better.

Also after 10: 40 seconds into this video how the practitioners locks the clients foot into their body is ideal for this client. This client has such tight hips that they tense them as soon as I adjusted them into position before today. Not today however. It allowed me to go to the correct points, support them in the best way and dictate my weight while also locking them in place. It was very successful! It benefited the client today as they told me they felt it  much deeper yet supported than how I had been doing it before, which was by my being kneeling outside the clients legs and leaning inwardly.

 I feel that there is a lot of learning in this video, and now the course is getting more intense in so far as the amount of techniques which is great. I need to keep watching these techniques and continue to use them and continue to revise them. For example when I watched the calf techniques it felt as if I was a bit overawed by the learning for today. However even though my massage with the second client  today was more on their calves and feet and even though I felt as if I could not recall all the technical calf moved  I gladly recalled that no sequence needs to be perfect at the start and that using all my body, all my body weight, by my leaning and supporting a client it really will aid them and i can continue  to learn.

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Shama
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September 24, 2014 - 12:05 pm
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Good news - I am happy to hear that you are figuring out how to do it correctly!Smile

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September 30, 2014 - 4:57 pm
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Module 7:

When I was 12 years old I suffered a very bad broken leg when my tibia and fibula were broken. Many years of playing sport after this broken leg eventually resulted in my spine twisted and thus my hips being out of alignment as described in module 7. I had scoliosis and like in Module 7 there was a distinct difference in one hip over another and this was very obvious in how my feet fell outwards as I lay on my back. In this way I completely understand the basis of module 7.

Yesterday I had a new person to massage. It was middle aged woman who has had three children. She described to me how she had problems with her lower back when she was pregnant the first time with her lower back and that the medical team believed that the pressure was exacerbated from here having initially very tight hips and then the pressure of the growing pregnancy forced the pain into her under pressure lower back. She had more children after that and had a couple of issues with sciatica since then. When I assessed her hips I noticed that her left foot was more outward that the right one. This correlated with her hips also.

I used the pillow under her less open hip to great success and really used more time in the elephant walking today with the knowledge from the module and from the woman. It was successful, and much more client individualised which was great!

 I used the hip rocking motion with a young boy that i have already mentioned to great success today. I t was even better than in earlier modules as he is quite wary and restrictive of relaxing his hips. This is even apparent in his facial muscles prior to working in this rocking motion.

When stretching the leg using my leg and the mention of using a 90 degree angle it was not clear to me if the 90 degree angle was the client’s knee as seen from the clients view or 90 degrees as seen by the massage therapist from their viewpoint. This is confusing?

 

Module 8:

The Hip pie is a great concept to remember and the fact that they all are angled at a 45 degree angle. This really aided me this morning as the two clients were very different. Even their muscles felt completely different in the warm up where one person presented with very tight muscles and the other seemed to be easily able for the one, two , three, two , one of elephant patting as described in the previous module.

Not surprisingly the tightness in the two clients correlated wit their hip flexibility and quite frankly had I not had the guideline of knowing to estimate the 45 degree angle for each person in each slice or stretch of the hip pie I would have been very confused. It really helped me especially as I had the less flexible client after the initially very flexible client before that, Had I not the hip pie 45 degree    I surely would not do the second client as well or I surely would not have opened their hip in all six directions.

I also had a man today who has a bad knee. In fact he told me that he`ll have to great his cartilage operated on.; I tried this knee warm up but it gave him sharp pain initially so OF COURSE I stopped immediately. I am learning so much even if I decided not to charge this client full price because of my mistake in using this technique! He was very grateful and assured me of his return as he felt more relaxed after his first Thai massage, other than the split second of pain! Which he forgave me for!!!

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September 30, 2014 - 9:52 pm
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All the degree measurements are based on the standard anatomical position, i.e. someone is lying down with straight legs which is the 0 degree position, and the 45 degree angles start from there.

It looks like you can relate to the hip work very well. The cases which you are describing point towards you doing specific therapy work. After you are done with this course, you could go a lot deeper with some of the specialty courses like the Hip Therapy course and the Thai Massage For Sciatica course. 

Learning doesn't stop at a certain point in Thai Massage - there is always something else you can add to your repertoire. And the more you learn, the better you will get at helping people with very specific problems.

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October 3, 2014 - 6:36 am
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Module 9:

Relaxing the leg as the muscle of the inner thigh maybe tensed to hold up the leg is a good way to loosen the abductor muscle. I would never have thought of this.  By holding it and doing a little bouncing it really relaxed my first client today.  In fact this person was a person I had from a  massage a few days ago and had a knee injury. Then I rotated tried to relax his knee before I realised his knee had cartilage problems or cartridge and it really pained him. I seemed to get a anew founded trust with him by him knowing he was more relaxed with me. This is great to know that 1. He returned and trusted me from a few days ago and 2. Today he laughed when I used this relaxation of the inner thigh and he felt good enough to smile!

 

I have a question, in the second part of the stretching, the 2nd rotation by leaning on the inner groin and thigh and opening it from the inside if the persons left hip is coming off the matt or floor and their waist is turning with your sinking into their groin is it best to lock their straight leg with your other leg so as they will get the maximums stretch?

At 18:30 seconds into this module when you shift the body over is it more the therapist uses a clenched abdominals and lifts over the spinal twisting motion or more the therapist uses their range of hip motion to twist the spine?

Today I think I failed to do this with enough scope left to twist the hip open and I should have left a greater space to place my knee away from the client’s knee.

 

I like the way you can ask the 1-10 toleration of stretching with the client. I wish to ask, is it best to allow the whole massage to be silent and music playing in background or when familiar with certain clients is it ok to chat or for them to talk to you throughout?

I would have thought their bodily breathing needs to be in chi before any conversation is regular.

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October 4, 2014 - 1:19 am
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Regarding your first question - no you don't have to hold the other leg down. You could, but this would make the stretch a lot stronger and it might be too much for many people. If you work on a really flexible yogi type, you could do that, but for most people this won't be necessary.

Regarding your second question, there is no clenching of the abdominal muscles. All you do is shift your body over like in a yoga lunge position.

Regarding talking with clients, you will find some good ideas about this topic in this article.

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October 6, 2014 - 6:56 pm
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Module 10: 

I really am getting a lot out of asking the client how they rate the stretch on 1-10 basis. I think that this is a great thing. This stretch between 10-12 minutes is a great one. Today it allowed me to lock the patient with my foot and leg and also to control the stretch with my two hands which is fantastic. It worked for all clients and it was incredible to chat and to feel the difference of peoples flexibility in this one. Someone who road runs a lot was great on hamstring flexibility but really tight and sore in this one.

The link for chatting or not chatting with clients was not able to open, is there another link please?

The abductor one is a great one and easy to see the persons improvement. I have a person who has what seems a very inflamed abductor. They are receiving physio treatment and the physio allows them to be massaged/ stretched, I need some advice on this stretch if you have it place.

Also many thanks for all the wonderful feedback.

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