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Crystal Pavis' Thai Back Massage course notes
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Crystal Pavis
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October 7, 2019 - 11:14 pm
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Hi Shama. I'm happy to be starting the Thai Back Massage course and I'm looking forward to each module and your feedback!

Module 1

I’ve done a spinal analysis on a friend of mine. She is 5’6 220 lb. She feels the weight of her breasts impacts her posture. I noticed that her thoracic vertebrae were rounded out indicating kyphosis. Her head appears slightly forward and likely because of that, she gets pain at the back of her neck. Her shoulders looked even. There was no noticeable scoliosis and her hips seemed level. While supine I was unable to slide my hand under her lumbar spine indicating reduced lumbar curve. Also while supine her head appeared on the same plane as her body and her hips level.   

I’ve done an additional spinal analysis on another friend. His lumbar spine appeared somewhat flat and his left shoulder elevated. His hips appeared even. I did not notice a lateral curve in the spine or kyphosis. While supine I could reach my fingers under to his lumbar spine but there was little space there. His hips appear level while lying supine and his face appeared on the same plane as his body. When I was working on his neck during a Thai massage the left side appeared more restricted which may be a factor in the elevation of his left shoulder.  

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Shama Kern
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October 8, 2019 - 1:23 am
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Wow, you took the spinal analysis to good use right away. Gad to hear that! If you keep doing this, you will pick out many clues just by observation. Sooner or later your clients will be amazed how you 'knew all this stuff' about their bodies.

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Crystal Pavis
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October 9, 2019 - 6:14 am
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Module 2

For this module I had interviewed a friend regarding her back pain in order to get more comfortable with getting a client history and to find out what the possible causes of her pain may be. The following is a summary of the information I had gathered after asking her a series of questions.

She’s 42 years old and her back pain started at age 19, after she fell. The pain started in her left lumbar and hip, and is currently around her left Sacroiliac joint. At one point she was bedridden for 6 months and couldn’t drive for 3 years. Her pain is constant unless she is lying still in bed. She feels both dull and sharp pain at various times. She sits a lot and doesn’t walk for exercise due to fear of increased pain and only stretches.

She’s been seeing a chiropractor 2-6 times per week for 7 years. Cortisone injections and nerve ablations didn’t work. Her diagnosis was facet syndrome with at least one bulging disc. She was unable to tilt her pelvis forward until after receiving her first Thai massage.

I found giving this interview to be very informative. I learned a lot about the origin of her pain and how it progressed over time as well as the various treatments she has already received for it and how they have or have not helped. 

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Shama Kern
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October 9, 2019 - 3:10 pm
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That was good 'detective' work. I hope you get a chance to work on her often enough to see if the condition improves.

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Crystal Pavis
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October 16, 2019 - 7:40 pm
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Module 3

I’m glad you pointed out that an antagonist muscle may become weakened due to the chronic contraction of the opposing muscle group and that an issue does not exist in isolation. This knowledge is useful for identifying the possible cause of a client's pain. I also found it interesting that you may suggest Yoga to your clients to increase muscle strength. I’d like to learn more about Yoga and how it can compliment Thai massage. As you explained, it is also important for us to educate the client about how their lifestyle habits may be causing the issue. 

I like your simulated face cradle setup with a standard size pillow under the clients’ chest and a small pillow under their head. I have seen some massage therapists using an actual face cradle cushion on the floor during a Thai massage. I think your setup may be more comfortable. 

I like techniques where the therapist works the individual sen lines but I found doing that to be painful for my thumbs afterwards. Thanks for showing some alternative tools such as using three fingers together. 

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Shama Kern
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October 17, 2019 - 12:21 am
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I have tried face cradles for Thai Massage on the floor. In my experience this doesn't work very well. First I never found it comfortable for my face, and second it is just not practical since in Thai Massage, unlike in oil massage, you move clients around quite a bit. So every time you do a stretch that lifts their head, they get pulled out of the face cradle and have to re-position their head after each repetition of the stretch. This can feel quite irritating.

That's why my pillow method feels more comfortable since there it doesn't matter so much that the face has to land in the precise correct spot in the cradle. At least that has been my experience.

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Crystal Pavis
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October 22, 2019 - 9:11 pm
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That is useful information about the face cradle. Thanks for sharing!

Module 4

Over the weekend I was in a Thai massage class and we were using a lot of direct linear pressure butterfly palm presses. After a while these were straining my wrists. Since the routine we were practicing doesn’t incorporate any rocking techniques, I’ll be happy to substitute them in to reduce wrist strain. I also like that we are coordinating these techniques with our breath.  

I practiced the techniques by adding them at the end of a 90 minute Thai massage I was giving a friend. His feedback was that he felt these techniques would help wake up a client toward the end of the massage. I realize they were supposed to be relaxing but ended up being energizing. Increasing the speed will likely make these techniques less relaxing. I’ll try them again at a slower speed and compare. I was also wondering if I should cross over to the other side of the client before applying these techniques to the other side. Luckily, I had previously learned how to cross from one side to the other while continuing rocking in your complete Thai massage course.

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Shama Kern
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October 23, 2019 - 12:48 am
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I know, typical traditional Thai Massage training uses mostly linear pressure and wrist-straining butterfly presses - not good for you! That's why I teach it in a more therapist-friendly way.

Slower is often better than faster. Thai Massage in fast-forward mode can feel irritating.

If you are really good at crossing over, then it is really easy to switch sides. But even then I prefer avoiding unnecessary cross-overs. I always try to work with the least energy expenditure possible. So I would advise to work as much as possible from one side, and then switch to the other side and do as much as possible from there.

You can actually stay on one side and do techniques on both sides of the spine. For example the forearm roll-down technique is meant for working on the far side of the spine. So you can work the near and to some degree the far side of the spine from one side, and then repeat the same thing from the other side.

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Crystal Pavis
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October 25, 2019 - 1:47 am
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Module 5

I’m hoping to learn more techniques that don’t stress the thumb joints since I’m already having thumb pain from pressing the sen lines while practicing a few days in a row. So I agree with you that we should skip thumbing the sen lines. I like the horse gallop rhythm version of butterfly palm presses. Is this version less stressful on the wrists than regular butterfly palm presses? 

I’ve practiced these sacrum techniques on my friend. He said he didn’t feel it was doing much over the center grooves of the sacrum. He found the same technique to be more beneficial when applied along the sides of the sacrum since he felt they were affecting the gluteus maximus.

I’m hoping I can use modifications or alternative techniques so that I rarely put direct pressure on my thumbs during a Thai massage. I’ve been told that I couldn’t really do Thai massage without using my thumbs for direct pressure. I've found that not to be the case. There are a lot of techniques to choose from. I’m very interested in starting to add rocking techniques into my practice. I’ve also become interested in learning more sacrum techniques since I feel they can be especially beneficial for women.  

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Shama Kern
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October 26, 2019 - 1:15 am
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You can definitely do Thai Massage with very little thumb work. I have done it many many times. Especially for back work I have often used primarily non thumb techniques since I don't want to risk or ruin my thumbs either. This can easily be done, and you will learn many ways to do so in this course!

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