I hope I am posting this in the right place! Please let me know if I need to change anything.
The introdroduction ,or module 1 , was very helpful in several ways. It helped me get a more clear understanding of what sciatica is, and what some of the potential causes might be. It clarified that there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms to sciatica and helped me feel more comfortable about what the potential of massage might be in helping these clients. It was nice to be reminded that as a massage therapist, I am not expected to always be 100% certain of the exact cause of the sciatica, or guarantee that I can fix it, only that I can acquire many useful tools and do my best!
Decided to go ahead and post these too, since I am couple days behind in getting started.
Module 2 was also very helpful and informative. I love the clear way in which the material is explained and broken down. Knowing the diagnostic tools available, and also other treatment options, is great because when I have worked on clients with sciatic pain they often ask me a lot of questions about their options. It feels great that I can begin to answer people with more clarity.
I appreciated the discussion about micro/macrocosms in massage. It reflects how I see massage and the way I try to approach each session (i.e work specifically but also include the whole body as much as possible, and strive for balance in all treatments), but it was definitely nice to have those ideas validated!!
Finally, the tests for sciatica are great! I realized as I watched it that though I’ve had clients come to me complaining if sciatic pain, I never really had a clear way of testing that that is indeed the problem. Also since there are multiple causes for sciatic pain, its nice to be able to narrow it down somewhat, to low back or piriformis related. Again I appreciate the explanation that we may never know the precise anatomical cause in some cases, and that’s OK as long as we treat to the best of our ability.
Hi Drea, welcome to the Thai Massage For Sciatica certification program. You had asked if everything is posted correctly. Here is a link to our certification checklist which explains the process:
I am glad to see that you resonate with the course so far and like the approach.
Module 3 was very satisfying because it really got into the hands on techniques of Thai Massage. I also appreciated the refresher on the anantomy of the lumbar and sacral spine, and how that relates to sciatica.
Rocking is something I sometimes find myself drawn to so with my clients, but again I never had a real theoretical background to justify it.
So it is great to have a detailed explanation of all the reasons why rocking is helpful both to client and practitioner. I cant wait to practice it on my partner!
Rocking is not normally part of traditional Thai Massage. It is something which I have pioneered and included in my style of Thai Massage for the simple reason that it works great and has many advantages over the typical linear pressure techniques which are normally done in Thai Massage. You will find plenty of rocking techniques in all my courses.
After a trip away I was finally able to practice some rocking massage on my partner. Both of us found it very relaxing and grounding to the nervous system. As an experiment I tired some linear pressure with a rocking motion on the low back/sacrumm and he said it was very uncomfortable compared to the angle technique described by Shama. I also played around with using the rocking across the body as well as on the same side, but the rhythm definitely seems to work best on the same side. I guess the exception there is the circle technique on the buttocks/piriformis.
I found the practice of these techniques very interesting and a little challenging. I am used to using my arms and elbows in deep tissue massage, but the rolling movement was more difficult that I expected. The part I found tough was releasing the pressure as I roll down. When I shifted my weight to reach across and roll, I wanted to bear down more to balance myself and to flow with the forward motion of my body. I found it very difficult to lift up pressure while simultaneously moving forward across the body. Maybe I was doing it wrong (or overthinking it)? Probably I have just gotten into a habit of leaning into my strokes when I work across the body, so it will just take some practice!
The “wiggle” technique seems like something that will be very effective to folks with sciatica pain. As I worked on my partner I became more and more aware of the differences between the muscles on his left and right side. The right side was much tighter, and more than once he commented on how it felt different on each side, even though I was doing the same motion on each side.
I also found the percussion to be very enjoyable and rhythmic. so far when I’ve used percussion it has been mostly on the upper back, so this was an interesting change.
One thing I noticed while doing all this was the strain of being on my knees- not intense, but I definitely felt it in my thighs, and I think its just one of those differences that we adjust to with time, like when I first started with deep tissue and my hands were sore all the time. I think it will be good exercise!
That’s a fairly typical reaction when first working on the floor. Your body is not used to it and you can feel it in your toes, your ankles, and your knees. But this goes away after a while, as I have been told by lots of course students. And your body will become more flexible in the process.
Regarding the leaning forward and rolling your forearms down, the trick is in the rhythm of leaning forward and moving back, and not shifting your entire body weight into the forward movement when you roll down.
This module was full of very useful techniques. I actually ended up practicing some of them with a client, although they had to be done on the table because it was a house call and there was no way to work on the floor. Most of it was pretty easy to transfer to the table, like the forearm leaning and rocking on the buttocks, and elbow and finger work.
Other techniques, such as the sacrum rocking and of course the knee to buttocks work, I realize most people would not do on a table- but in my case I am already in the habit of getting up onto the edge of the table for certain techniques , so my regular clients are also used to it. So I decided to go ahead and give it a try!
Actually the sacrum rocking I did both ways, standing and reaching across, and also from above, on the table (which is similar to some techniques I use regularly in that position). And, to my surprise, even the knee to buttocks techniques worked reasonably well with me on the edge of the table. This client happened to also be a friend, so I felt OK about experimenting and risking the possibility of a clumsy or awkward situation….but it actually went pretty smooth. I was also doing some side lying work with her as she cannot be prone for long periods, and the knee movements were even more effective that way.
However, I acknowledge that these techniques are meant for floor/mat work and intend to practice them that way, absolutely. I would assume they are more effective that way in terms of using bodyweight/leverage etc., not to mention more practical, since many therapists may not be willing/able to balance on the edge of the table, and many clients may not feel comfortable with it! I just happened to have the opportunity shortly after watching the video and wanted to practice while it was fresh. Also I was curious to see how much could be done on the table, in the instance that I have a client, such as this one, who is unable or unwilling to be on the floor. So, it was an interesting experiment!
I found all these techniques to be very effective and powerful, as Shama said, though gentle enough not to cause pain when done correctly. Awesome!
My partner immediately responded to the double knee buttocks technique, saying it felt great , especially since his low back and hamstrings were sore. He preferred the leaning method over the circle/twist, but that may have been partly because I didnt get into quite a smooth rhythm- something that will come with time I imagine. The “time laps” piriformis technique is great, similar to some things I have tried but I love the emphasis on going really quite slow that Shama demonstrates in the video. At first, because I’m practicing and get rushed (need to go ,make dinner for the kids!) I went to fast and it was a little painful for him. When I slowed, he said it was only about a 2 in pain, though I used alot of pressure in the end.
All the hamstring techniques were quite helpful to him, especially since he had knee surgery recently and his left hamstring is extremely tight- in fact it was probably the hamstring that caused the knee injury (during skiing)to begin with. So the knee leaning and rocking in particular, and the forearm techniques were all very helpful to him. I’m really excited to have ways to work with this area as I see a lot of skiers and runners whose hamstrings are dangerously tight.
The supine sacrum rock was nice and gently effective, and we both really loved the stretch at the end. He said it stretched his low back more effectively than anything he’s tried. Thanks!
So you are a massage acrobat, it seems! You definitely have better leverage and better ergonomics on a floor mat, but it sure doesn’t hurt to be able to do it on a table as well.
It sounds like you might want to take a look at the Hamstrings Massage course too. It’s only a $37 course, and you might pick up some useful material for your clients with the tight hamstrings. It contains 2 hours of hamstrings training.
So I must confess, I was a little apprehensive about practicing the stretches in this module, as they appeared to be quite complicated. However I was happy to find that as I went through them, the positions are actually very intutiive and flow from one to the next quite nicely.
The first stretch, what I was calling a facilitated spinal twist, was pretty simple once I got started. My partner and I were discussing how this is of course a stretch a person could do on their own (as are any, I suppose), and that there are benefits to having another person helping to hold the position and move the persons body into position. But I have to say I could not explain it very well. Would you mind briefly going over the benefits of facilitated stretching versus a person doing it on their own? I also vaguely remember learning about passive and active faciliated stretches, but am not clear where those fit in here.
The last set, with the foot in the groin and rocking, etc. was the one I was the most nervous about, but again it all made sense when I lined my body up correctly. When I did the “drop down” test to see if my partners knee would drop naturally to the floor, the results were a little confusing. At first his knee stayed put, and I thought because he is pretty tight in that region it was muscles keeping it in place. However when I moved my hand a little backwards , so that his leg was bent at a less sharp angle, the knee did drop more freely. So, either the angle of the knee makes a difference, or he consciously let go of the muscles after being made aware of the situation.
I definitely like the rocking of the leg/knee for these stretches, and the way it encourages me to rock my body along with the clients. I think the rhythm has its own healing properties.
Regarding your question about facilitated stretches versus doing them yourself – I think the next module will put all this into perspective. You will see that ideally BOTH methods should be used for sciatica problems. And as you will see in the last module, a therapist can do a comprehensive session with an entire holistic treatment protocol including client education. This is something which the client cannot do alone just by doing some self-stretches. So the therapy session should be followed by self-stretches. You will see that this is all explained in the next two modules.
I love the added context and perspective this module introduces. From my limited experience with sciatica clients, I feel strongly that they do need more in depth therapy and advice than simply a massage.
I also agree wholeheartedly that clients benefit greatly from a sense of confidence in their therapist. From my Somatic work I know that being with a confident and compassionate provider relaxes the nervous system and thus all the systems in the body, generating the rest and restoration part of the nervous system and beginning healing.
The standing stretches are very thorough and enjoyable. I also think it is helpful to be able to explain how these easy moves can really benefit a person in multiple ways . The fluid hip rotator does indeed resemble a bely dancing move, and I have always though belly dancing to be good hip/pelvic therapy!
Though I dont suffer from sciatica, I found the sequence of light stretches relaxing and a good way to get circulation going after sitting at the computer for a while. I look forward to sharing these with clients, and I’m sure they will feel more confident and hopeful having a multitude of approaches to work with.
This was an extremely engaging and thought provoking module. I always appreciate hearing testimonial to the kind of techniques collectively referred to as “energy work”. I think I have a pretty open mind about how humans work and what our potential is, yet I also feel there is alot of disingenuous and ineffective stuff being called “energy work”. These days I tend to see it through the lens of the nervous system- there is so much incredible research demonstrating how our nervous systems are literally wired to communicate with other humans, without words, that it makes sense to me that intentional touch, or guided visualization could just be another way that our nervous systems are communicating with each other. Essentially I see it as something science just hasnt figured out how to explain yet, but it probably will soon. It also helps skeptical clients if I say “nervous system” instead of “energy”- since in the end it doesnt matter what you call it, just that it works!
I would love to incorporate Thai herbal compresses into my work (or even western herb compresses for that matter), and the massage hammer is something I’ve never heard about but sounds fascinating, and particularly helpful for sensitive clients. It is a good reminder for me that sciatica work needs to be moderate. I’ve had several expereinces recently where clients have felt extremely sore, fatigued or even nauseous after getting massage work. Most of them have been folks who had some type of autoimmune disorder or nervous condition, although I didnt always know about it ahead of time! I was trained to do pretty deep work and have found alot of clients who really appreciate that. However I am having to remember that deep work isnt always the best for everyone, and learning when to back off and to know how much is too much. This course has been helpful in giving me the rocking methods as an option for more sensitive folks. Thanks!
You picked out some good points. Certainly sciatica takes more than just a massage to improve it, and without any doubt the confidence in the therapist is an important factor.
I also agree with you that ‘energy’ is a very loosely defined term. It has pretty much been already proven by Quantum Physics, although this has never made it into the mainstream awareness of people. And it also doesn’t matter what you call it. “Nervous system” will work just fine if that’s easier for people to relate to.
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