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Jacob Morris, Thai Rocking Massage Notes and Experiences
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Jacob Morris
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October 17, 2016 - 2:20 am
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I will be receiving my first module tomorrow. Very enthusiastic!

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October 17, 2016 - 8:59 am
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Hi Jacob, welcome to our forum and the Thai Rocking Massage course! You should have received the course manual already, right? I am looking forward to reading about your experience with the course material.

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Jacob Morris
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October 17, 2016 - 1:43 pm
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I'm looking forward to diving in.

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Jacob Morris
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October 20, 2016 - 1:44 am
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Yes, I received the course manual. Thanks! Jacob

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October 20, 2016 - 3:46 am
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Great!

Before you get started, please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list just to make sure we are on the same wave length. Smile

Certification Check List

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Jacob Morris
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October 20, 2016 - 7:41 am
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Module 2 (I watched Module 1 but did not write notes for it because it seemed introductory in nature, listing benefits and briefly introducing techniques. I will rewatch the video and do a write-up before completing the course, if that's okay.)

I used Chi Machine on a 50 year old and somewhatfrail male client who has fibromyalgia. Overall he tolerated the technique well but was exquisitely sensitive to the amplitude of the rocking and provided ongoing feedback on whether more or less felt right for him. It struck me how just a small change in hand placement, maybe 1/4'', affected his hip movement by at least an inch in either direction. After roughly 10 minutes of Chi Machine, I placed his legs on the floor and prompted him to describe any sensations. He described nearly verbatim the tingling your mention in the video as well as a vague but pleasant streaming sensation moving in various directions within his body.

With this same client I observed the correspondence between the positition of his feet and hip asymmetry. While his left foot naturally fell outward to a normal angle, the right foot stopped about 15 degrees right from a straight knee-to-ceiling placement. I assessed the end feel of each foot and found them consistent with the visual presentation, with the left foot yielding to pressure in lateral and medial rotation normally and the right foot strongly resisting lateral rotation and, to a lesser degree medial rotation. The right ASIS was observed to be somewhat higher from the floor than the left. In future sessions as I learn the rocking methods I will work on emphasizing a laterally directed right-knee rotation to help open the hip.

With a second client, female and physically robust, I performed the longitudinal traction rocking one leg at a time, with a short interval between legs for observation. I didn't check for leg-length discrepancy before applying the technique on the first (left) leg but it was >1/2'' longer than the right after 5 minutes of the rocking. Of course I was curious to see if this had resulted from the technique. I drew a small pencil mark at the heel of both feet before proceeding to the other leg. After 5 minutes of rocking the right leg, I stopped and immediately checked the relative leg lengths. The left leg remained the same and the right leg had lengthened to precisely the same length as the left. It surprised me that such a gentle technique could produce such a result. Looking forward to the next module. This is the work I've been waiting for. Thank you.

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October 20, 2016 - 4:01 pm
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First of all I am amazed that you managed to do 10 minutes of Chi Machine. That's quite a long time for this technique. Apparently you got good results with it. As long as you move out of your hip and don't muscle the move, it should work for you as well as for the client.

I am impressed that you approached the leg pulling technique in such an analytical way. I should add an annotation on the video to make it clear that you can get such results from this technique, especially since this leg discrepancy is a fairly common thing.

I have the feeling that you will do excellent work with the material of this course! 

And no problem about the first module. After your post about the second one, I am quite convinced that you didn't skip the first video. Smile

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Jacob Morris
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October 23, 2016 - 3:36 pm
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Module 3

A lean, healthy female client in her late 60s presented with knees and feet that point straight upward as their default position when she lies down. I assessed the tension in her hips by attempting to press each foot inward and outward. Bilaterally her feet turned laterally with ease but resisted medial rotation. Based on these findings, I kneeled in turn on each side, rocking the closer leg medially. As you instructed, I used one hand as the controlling hand and the other as the rocking, switching their roles depending on whether I was working on the upper or lower leg. The controlling hand easily kept the leg being rocked from shifting away from me. I worked three sen on upper leg and three on the lower leg, with the latter being a bit trickier given the low angle from which I had to initiate the rock. Predictably, the client reported greater tenderness when I rocked from the 2nd line (corresponding to the IT band). In addition I performed the technique of having controlling hand superior to the knee while rocking the hip joint by working just distal to the inguinal crease and pivoting the heel of my hand to vary the angle of pressure applied to the hip joint and ostensibly helping to reduce hypertonicity of muscles involved in medial rotation. The client experienced the work on both legs as pleasurable. Reassessment of each foot following the rocking revealed a profound reduction of the force required to the turn the foot inward. In addition, the default position of the feet when I lifted the legs and gently allowed to fall onto the mat changed to "normal" lateral rotation. It was gratifying to client that such an enjoyable and comparatively effortless technique could effect a clearly visible change in a short time. I advised the client that her habitual movement patterns, sitting position, etc. would likely reverse the effects of the work and that paying closer attention to body use might help to elucidate why the cause(s) of hypertonicity that rotates her hip joints inward. Immediately a habit came to her mind wherein, rather than putting on socks to warm her feet, she frequently sits pigeontoed so that the feet can warm each other. We will follow up and see if she is able to remain mindful of this and wear socks while keeping her feet in a neutral position. Upon standing, she reported a "wonderful feeling of aliveness" in her legs. 

I have continued to practice the techniques from Module 2, in one case combining both the Chi Machine and the longititudinal traction with trancework on 56-year-old business acquaintance of my father who is undergoing detoxification from serious alcohol dependency, resulting in CNS instability (for which he has been prescribed gabapentin) and emotional decompensation. The oscillating movement did seem, as you mentioned, to induce a light trance which I combined with language prompts designed to draw his attention to subtle (and some quite overt) symptoms of mental and physical discomfort and then to generate metta and karuna first toward his cat (easy) then one of his sons (a bit more involved but more effectual) and finally toward himself. Afterward, he mentioned being "able to feel [his] arms for the first time in a long time" and much greater emotional self-regulation and reflective capacity were evident. The session had begun with him weeping, expressing torment and shame, and curling into a fetal position. Obviously this kind of integrative work lies outside the scope of this course, but the simple rocking potentiated a mental/emotional shift that would have taken much longer to bring about otherwise and I thought you might find it interesting. This session was done rather on the spur of the moment as he was about to leave on a camping trip with his three sons. 

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October 23, 2016 - 11:49 pm
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I do find it interesting, actually fascinating, when I hear how therapists use and combine the Thai Massage techniques with their modalities and style of working. I have done a lot of this combining myself without feeling constrained by "traditional" Thai Massage. My feeling is that results is what matters, not tradition or rules. And your results sound quite impressive. Smile

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Jacob Morris
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October 28, 2016 - 5:13 pm
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Module 4

I wrote an extensive notes for this module and then upon submitting them, a prompt came up asking for confirmation that I wanted to "perform this action" or something to that effect. I clicked yes and then the forum reappeared without my submission Cry So here goes again, in perhaps a more abbreviated form...

I worked with the same client as in Module 3, which gave us the opportunity to make further progress with hip opening.

It required some patience to settle into the coordinated rhythm of the squeeze-and-lift leg rocking. I try to avoid pincering actions with my hand as a prophylactic measure against the types of injuries bodyworkers tend to develop over time. But in spite of that it was a relatively comfortable technique to execute and resulted in increased lateral rotation of both feet and greater ease medially and laterally rotating each ankle upon assessment before moving to the longitudinal tractioning with foot/hip rotation. Getting the coordination between between the rapid lengthwise rocking and back and forth of the foot took some effort. On the first leg I made the mistake of emphasizing the compression phase instead of allowing the leg to passively rebound but quickly course corrected. The tractioning seems to be keeping her legs roughly the same length, lending strength to my impression that the discrepancy, which has been a lifelong issue, is from the leg being jammed into the pelvis rather than an actual structural difference in length. The bent knee circular rocking move is my favorite yet and also the one that brought home the importance of matching the speed of the pull with that of the body's natural recoil. For comparison I executed the technique faster than the client's body and then at the body's speed. The client said that both felt good but that the second (the one following the body's lead) was *far* more relaxing.

 By far the technique that had the greatest hip-opening effect on my client was the one in which you initially assess how far out the knee falls out on its own and then repeatedly toss it upward and allow it to fall. When we had completed this technique each knee fell to a position roughly 6 inches lower than when we began. I used it both for assessment and treatment, asking the client where she sensed restriction when the knee was hanging out to the side. I weaved a continuous-movement modification of Dak Wukao in when she indicated the area around the greater trochanter as the locus of greatest tension. It felt so much more natural to perform Dak Wukao in this way. Instead of feeling like I was "doing something" to the joint, there was a sense of her body inviting in my spiralling movements. I also worked on the adductor attachment with focused rocking in the area of palpable hypertonicity. There was a definite sense of wordless dialogue in which her body tiij the lead in asking mine to do what hers could not do for itself.  

The client's knees were still too high relative to the floor to work my way down them and rock them witih my body weight when doing the contralateral stretch between pelvis and bent knee, so I restricted myself to several minutes of pelvic rocking, during which the client sharing her internal imagery. I asked her to jot it down immediately following the session and email it to me with the understanding that I would be sharing it in this forum: "During the hip rocking, I could close my eyes and see a golden circular area surrounded by soft transitions into concentric areas of color, often shades of blue.  These were ringed by a clearly delineated ring of black near the edge of my field of vision.  Beyond the black ring, all was brightly lit and completely white." To this she added: "After the massage, my head felt so lifted, as though it were rising upward of its own volition.  My spinal cord hummed from my sacrum to the top of my head." This final comment gratified me tremendously as it corresponds to the body sense one aspires toward in Alexander Technique.

 

.

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October 28, 2016 - 6:59 pm
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If this was a 'shortened' version of your original submission, that must have been some write-up! Smile

What I find fascinating about Thai Massage is that it contains elements of massage, yoga, chiropractic, Trager, energy work, and osteopathy, all rolled into one system. This of course was not an intentional development since Thai Massage predates everything except yoga by centuries.

It must be really fun and gratifying to work with a client who can visually capture all those impressions which most people are not capable of seeing. It just shows that there is so much which we cannot hear, see or feel, but which nonetheless exists, and a few can perceive it. A world without some mystery would be quite a boring place, as far as I am concerned.

By the way, my trick  to battle the internet gremlins is that before I hit "submit reply" on a completed post, I hit Control A (Windows machine) to highlight the entire post, and then Control C (copy shortcut on Windows machine) to store all I have written in my computer's memory.

If then, for whatever mysterious reason, the content of the post disappears as happened to you, all I have to do is hit Control V (paste shortcut on Windows machine) in the post are, and it is all restored. Something to keep in mind... I had my share of lost posts as well until I came up with this trick.

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Jacob Morris
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October 29, 2016 - 1:00 am
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Oh, trust me, I highlighted and copied the new notes into the clipboard every two sentences or so.

This submission is at least as long as the first one. I should have re-read my response and edited out that phrase. It was written in a "Nooooo!!" moment Wink

I'm so enjoying these techniques. I can't remember if I already told you this but I only graduated from a year-long bodywork program and back in August, got my licensure, and then immediately proceeded in September did a 200-hour immersion in Thai (our schedule was 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. six days each week). I've undertaken this work almost entirely for the purposes of integration with psychotherapy, and as brilliant as my mentor in bodywork/massage school was (very cutting-edge myofascial and PNF emphasis), this rocking work comes closest to what I had in mind in the first place. We did a bit of Trager in massage school, and I knew that that, along with craniosacral and Thai [all clothed-client modalities, not by accident] was going to play a huge role in how I worked with the body. Trager trainings are sparsely scheduled in the U.S., so this course--even though it's not Trager--has been a huge gift to me already. I'm so grateful that you recognized and undertook to elaborate upon the rocking component of Thai! I read someone else's forum post and saw where you commented how nice it would be to have this work done on you--I'm having that feeling every time I do a session. My body stays quite loose but my central nervous system cries out for precisely what you're teaching in this course. There's an interesting solo approach to relieving trauma called Trauma Release Exercises, developed by David Berceli. I haven't done them for a few years but they do result in a wonderful inside-out "tremoring" that seems to come from the iliopsoas. His approach is transparently dervied from Lowen's Bioenergetics (although he does accurately observe that it's how many mammalian species "reset" their nervous system after a trauma) and I have no idea whether they actually help with trauma recovery, but it's the closest thing that comes to mind as making it possible to experience rocking without another practitioner (or a Chi Machine). You might want to check out his video and book (the book is mostly anecdotal fluff but it contains detailed instructions for his technique). Anyway, just thought I'd pass that along. I've taught a few friends how to do it, and they love the feeling. 

Enjoy your day!

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October 29, 2016 - 2:45 am
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Wow, you are really serious about learning Thai Massage. The rocking techniques should be a great addition. There are quite a few Thai Massage teachers around, and some of us have developed our own, unique styles. The rocking is something that I created a long time ago, and although it has been catching on in the Thai Massage community, I don't think anyone is teaching it as much in depth as I do.

I have a personal love affair with a more gentle, energy-based style which uses more motion techniques rather than the linear direct pressure techniques which are more typical in the traditional style of Thai Massage.

And yes, it is a fact that although I love this type of work, I never get to experience it myself since definitely nobody in Thailand knows how to do it. Frown

Thanks for the reference tips. 

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November 2, 2016 - 1:51 am
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Module 5

I asked client to stand up after doing each leg on each stretch and to notice different sensations between the two legs (à la Feldenkrais) . The most common response client provided was that the treated leg "feels right." This particular client has relatively open hips already. It was striking how deep we could go into the knee to shoulder stretch by converting a standard linear Thai stretch into one that involved rocking in two directions inferior to superior and side to side. She smiled broadly when we brought her knee all the way to her shoulder at the end of the stretch. I increased the amount of body weight applied very slowly so that the change would be imperceptible.

The vibration work done directly on the crease of the groin did not turn up any local areas of hypertonicity. However the client described the associated sensations as "delicious." Since there were no identifiable points I altered the technique slightly and use both hands to work the entire arch of the groin, using the same combination of circling and rocking as we would on a tight/tender spot.

Your modified spinal rotation stretch was a welcome find considering that I found this among the least pleasant and effective of the techniques learned in My Thai training. It never made sense to press someone's need to the floor without any preparatory rotations or any attempt at successive approximation of the goal. After we were able to bring her knee to the floor in the way you demonstrated in the video, I intensified the technique a bit by pinning the opposite shoulder to the floor so that it could not rise when we rocked the knee and unexpectedly there was no feeling of additional resistance. Just as we began the spinal rotation on the right leg there was a painful sensation at roughly the proximal attachment of the sartorious (which hadn't been tender when we did the earlier localized work), causing her whole body to seize up and her face to wince in pain. This led me to wonder about femoral nerve compression. I directly addressed a hypertonic point with light and then increasingly heavy circling. As we proceeded the sensation--which was totally unfamiliar to her and had never come up and daily life or in the yoga classes--dissipated and we were able to resume the rocking with the pain not showing up again.

As we worked on these hip opening stretches I wondered if you have modified any of the hamstring stretches such as the supported leg stretch into a rocking technique as none of the techniques thus far seem to have *directly* addressed the hamstrings. Perhaps what I should ask is how do you work to release/lengthen the hamstings. This particular client would find it very gratifying if her forward bends in yoga class became as dramatically easier to perform as have her hip opening exercises as a result of our rocking work.

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November 2, 2016 - 11:06 pm
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You keep getting good results - very encouraging!

In traditional Thai Massage is is fairly typical that someone stretches you deeply right away. I never liked this because it is simply not very effective compared to a more gradual approach.

In regards to the hamstrings, the stretches don't lend themselves easily to rocking modifications. However I have found that the best approach is to do a lot of work on the hamstrings muscles before I do any stretching. For that I use all kinds of motion techniques with hands, elbows, forearms, knees and feet. Actually I have an entire course just about hamstrings work. 

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December 4, 2016 - 1:22 pm
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Module 6

I apologize for the extended absence. I was in NYC receiving training in craniosacral therapy then visited my undergraduate alma mater in Connecticut.

The hip rocking techniques proved effective for low back pain in two clients. I found the movements performed from the side especially powerful and know that they will all be used frequently in my practice. One client, a 68-year-old man who has frequented all kinds of manual therapists for over three decades, said that he experienced the best sacral release (his first words after standing up, "my sacrum dropped") of his life and the effects were still evident when I followed up four days later. Very good idea to restrict lower leg movement by placing therapist leg over the legs of the client for that one move, really localizes and intensifies it. It reminded me of the bands used in Fascial Stretch Therapy to secure one leg to the table. With the rocking move where you have one hand beneath the glutes and the other under the lower back it's amazing how much deeper the stretch becomes with just a few minutes of rocking. The body does indeed seem to eagerly surrender to rocking movements. I tried the male and female variations of the hand placement at the pelvic level with similar results for each. Subsequently, however, I've only used the female variation because I know the clients well and they're totally unfazed by the proximity to their genitals. I will keep it in mind for new clients, though, and appreciate the availability of an alternative.  

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December 4, 2016 - 2:42 pm
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Module 7

Argh, I already wrote lengthy documentation of my work with this module but accidentally closed the tab and lost it. I should have been Ctrl+C-ing the whole time. 

This was the most unconventional of the modules yet, and while I admired the ingenuity of the techniques, I'm uncertain how often I'll use them (as opposed to nearly ever technique in all the other modules which have already become mainstays of my practice).

Looking, as it does, like something out of the Kama Sutra, the first technique you demonstrated (or at least the process of getting into it) left me feeling a bit nervous about how clients would respond to it. But I executed it in a very deliberate and intentional way, neutralizing potential awkwardness. One woman I performed it on reported a pronounced release in her glutes after this particular technique. It's ingenious sandwiching the quads and glutes between the forearms and thighs in this way. She also mentioned how much she enjoyed the combined sense of compression and spreading of the quads by my forearms. It really is effortless once you settle into the rhythm of it. 

All the techniques that involved suspending the pelvis and rocking it in the air were both enjoyable and created a bit of traction in the spine. It surprised me that there wasn't a more undulating lateral translation of the vertebrae when executing these moves. Rather, in the clients I worked on at least, the spine rocked as a unit. You didn't mention anything about undulation; it's just what I expected to observe. re

Both in my 200-hour Thai certification course and this one, I have found that people are a bit sheepish about abdominal work. Given its vulnerability in evolutionary terms, this seems understandable. I did notice that when the abdominal was integrated into a rocking that went from above the knees to the armpits, people seemed to take no special notice of work being done on the abdomen. Doing this seemed to psychologically integrate the abdomen into the body so it needn't be approached gingerly but in the same spirit of ease as any other area. 

I did experience discomfort in my lower wrist and hand when doing the abdominal sandwich. Whether this owes to weakness in my forearm flexors and extensors or was because I performed the technique incorrectly remains in question. We achieved the rocking motion you demonstrated, with the fingers and the heel of the hands approximating each other. I'd like to discuss this further with you as it is a technique I would like to use regularly and vastly prefer over the static Thai abdominal work I already know. One female client, who has always had what she describes as a problematic relationship with her abdomen because of digestive issues, reported a feel of "goodness" there after we did the sandwich and that sense remained two days later when I followed up. 

A very interesting module, Shama, and further testament to your apparently limitless imagination!

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December 4, 2016 - 7:36 pm
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I've lost a number of forum posts that way too - Ctrl+C-ing is definitely a good idea.

Thai Massage certainly does have some unconventional techniques compared to western massage, and my style contains even more of those, since not all I am teaching is traditional Thai Massage, as I am sure you have noticed. Especially the rocking falls into this category.

I don't usually do full blown abdominal sessions unless I find a reason (a problem) when I touch the abdomen. If I think that it really needs attention, then I mention it to the client and ask them if they like the idea of focusing on the abdomen, and I explain why. In almost all cases they say yes. Once you have their agreement, any potential awkwardness is gone.

The method which you mentioned of building it into a whole-body rocking flow also works very well. I have done that frequently as well.

Regarding the "Kama Sutra technique" (that made me laugh!), this is not something you would do on just anyone - only if you feel that there is a good connection and a level of trust between you and the client. Like always, the techniques are not meant to be a mandatory sequence, but options to choose from.

Just a couple of days ago I did a one hour abdominal massage on my wife who had pain in her belly, and it really helped her. I have had excellent success with abdominal sessions for a number of problems.

I never liked the traditional static Thai techniques for the abdomen at all. I find them somewhere between uncomfortable and painful, so that's why I created my own system. I got some of these ideas from studying Chi Nei Tsang, by the way.

I have another course, Abdominal Massage Therapy, where I go a bit more into depth with abdominal work. If you watch the video on this page, you can see another Kama Sutra performance. LaughLaugh

Joking aside, I feel that my style of abdominal work is much more pleasant to experience than the traditional style, and is a lot more effective too. By the way, you should not experience any discomfort in your hand or wrist from the sandwich technique unless either the mat is quite hard or the client is very heavy.

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December 5, 2016 - 12:21 am
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I definitely see your abdominal massage course (among others) in my future! From what I've seen so far there isn't a single technique I learned at the SomaVeda center that I will not be replacing with one of yours. Between the importance abdominal work seems to be accorded in a number of systems and the existence of the enteric "brain," it seems vital to learn how to be comfortable addressing the area. The numerous Northern and Southern abdominal techniques we studied in the 200-hour program somehow managed to feel both invasive and perfunctory--quite an accomplishment lol. By contrast, the two rocking methods in your module had an infinitely friendlier feeling and more therapeutic effect. My clients were quite light and the mat was very thick and soft, so it must have been something in my body mechanics that made the flexion phase of the lower hand's movement uncomfortable for me in the sandwich technique. Given that I don't have preexisting wrist or any other joint problems, it's definitely something specific that I wasn't doing properly. I'll figure it out 🙂 

 

   

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December 5, 2016 - 1:50 am
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When I originally learned Thai Massage here in Thailand we were taught two abdominal techniques which were both invasive and painful with deep static linear pressure. Consequently I have never used them, Interestingly enough 99.9% of all the therapists here in Thailand never touch the abdomen either. No wonder with such techniques - who wants to suffer through them!

Once I actually did receive an abdominal session by an acclaimed therapy super duper healing lady. She pressed really hard and painfully into my belly so that I constantly had to tighten my abdominal muscles in order to not endure too much pain.

She, however, did not notice this, and at the end of the session told me that my abdomen was so constricted that I should get several sessions from her and maybe even see a doctor. Hah - there was nothing wrong with my belly except that she pressed way too hard.

This type of "therapy" is often appreciated by the "no-pain-no-gain" devotees. I am clearly not one of those. My experience with abdominal work is that the best way to get results is to work your way in slowly and gently without causing pain. Then the body won't resist and the cellular memory will change in a positive way too.

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