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James Sears Complete Thai Massage Notes
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James Sears
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June 8, 2017 - 10:26 am
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 Module #1

 

I had really good results from practicing this module. My first partner gave me good feedback as to whether I was rocking all the way to her head. I was about 50% of the time, which I thought wasn’t too bad for my first time practicing this technique. She stated that afterwards it felt like a cool shower but on the inside.

With my second partner, I wasn’t able to get her head to rock but I got up to her neck rocking. I’m not sure if she was holding her head rigid. In any case, she had good results too. She said she felt like she was floating during the chi machine, and then a euphoric sensation afterwards. She also said she felt very relaxed afterwards.

It was extremely painful for my knees and ankles even though I was on a double folded soft blanket! I am grateful for the toe-knee-ankle exercise sent out today, I started the exercises today and I think they are helping already. My toes are fine, it’s just my ankles and knees that hurt, so I feel at least I’m ahead of the game with the toes!

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Shama
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June 9, 2017 - 2:12 am
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Hi James, welcome to the Complete Thai Massage course certification program. I did notice that you listed module one on top of your post, however you talked about module two (Chi Machine)…?

The hurting toes, knees and ankles are a fairly typical symptom in the beginning when you are not used to those positions, however in practically all cases this resolves itself with practice and the help of the supplemental videos which address these issues. So not to worry. Smile

Also please take a moment to familiarize yourself with our certification check list, to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Check List

With your new Thai Massage skills you should become quite popular in the Chiropractor’s office! It sounds like you are already getting good results – not bad at all for your first module!!

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James Sears
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June 12, 2017 - 9:49 am
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The real Module #1:

Thanks, Shama, for pointing out that I had missed the first module video. It had disappeared somehow. But I found it!
Module #1 points out differences between Thai massage and what we learn here in the US. We seem to be very analytical whereas Thai massage is more of an art form to feel out instead of thinking in detail of a particular muscle or bone. That sounds good to me because through my career I have always used feeling and intuition in my massage more than analyzing and giving scientific names for muscles, techniques, etc. It’s more of a holistic approach, which feels more natural to me and what I am more comfortable doing.

I am somewhat doubtful about my clients being willing to be on the floor. It is appealing to me but I’m not sure I can convince them, at least some of them. Shama, may I ask what has your experience or experience from your students been on this?

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Shama
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June 12, 2017 - 10:42 am
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My experience with this has been very straightforward. I never had a single client ask me why they should be lying on the floor. First of all I have never owned a massage table, so I did not have to move any clients from the table to the floor. Thai Massage has always been my exclusive modality.

When clients show up or call for an appointment, I just explain to them that Thai Massage is done on a floor mat since there is a lot more movement than with table massage and they need a larger surface for stability and comfort. Nobody has ever questioned this. 

To be honest, I have found that often therapists have an attachment to work on a table, and it is them who have an issue with working on the floor which they then project onto their clients. This is just a force of habit which needs to be overcome. As long as you think that clients will have a problem with the floor work, they probably will have just that. So this is more of a matter of conditioning on the part of the therapist than a real issue.

But once you see the advantages in ergonomics and ease of work on a floor mat, you will transfer this experience and certainty to your clients as well, and they won’t have an issue with it. 

For example here in Thailand Thai Massage is almost always done on a floor mat. Nobody ever has an issue with this, because that’s just how it’s done. 

This is a question which has often been raised here in the forum. In most cases, after a while, the therapists started to see the advantages of working on the floor and developed a preference for it.

And some decided that floor work was not for them for whatever reason, and they adapted Thai Massage to the table. This can be done to a certain extent, however I suggest you first try the traditional way on the floor and see how that goes. 

The one scenario where it makes sense to use Thai Massage on a table is when you combine it with Swedish massage or something similar. Quite a few of our students create such blends.

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James Sears
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June 13, 2017 - 11:31 am
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Module: 3

I really like the movement that is involved in this form of practice. I’ve done stretching with clients but it has always felt awkward. I feel like with this method of foot massage there’s better ergonomics and smoother motions. It feels more fluid instead of forced.

I definitely need more practice! There’s a lot of steps here. When I practiced this evening my partner said it felt very relaxing and enjoyable. I’m definitely awkward now learning the techniques but at the moments I get it right, it feels effortless. My partner said I didn’t seem unsure but that I’m not yet fluid at the motions.

Because I do deep tissue, I need to learn to soften my thumbs and use my whole hand instead of focusing in with my thumbs out of habit.

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Shama
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June 13, 2017 - 5:14 pm
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Don’t be too concerned about not being fluid yet. There will still be many awkward moments in the beginning, but this will all resolve itself with time and practice. 

In the next module you will have some “aha” moments where all the foot moves make a lot more sense.

Good ergonomics and fluidity are very essential in Thai Massage and you will hear me talk a lot about this throughout this course. And yes, you will not need to stress your thumbs much in my style of Thai Massage. In the traditional style of Thai Massage there is a lot of stressful thumbing work, however I have largely modified this to make it more therapist friendly.

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James Sears
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July 2, 2017 - 11:14 am
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Module #4

I really appreciate the explanation of conceptual learning as opposed to memorizing steps. I already rely on intuition with my massage so that is a good fit for me.

I definitely like how you addressed the whole entire foot including the ankles. I feel like every aspect of the foot is covered. I like the whole body movement also, I think I’ve been adding body movements into my massage previously because I notice more power with less force.

My subject said she really liked the second part of the foot massage in this module, the pull-stretch down the sides of the feet, because it felt like stress was being released from the foot. I remember doing something similar on hands in massage school but we never did it on the feet. It makes total sense to do this technique on the foot.

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Shama
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July 2, 2017 - 8:03 pm
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Sounds like the foot massage is a good fit for you already. I suspect that you find many more good fits in this course. It always seems that the right students are attracted to this training, those who resonate with my approach to it. Smile

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James Sears
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July 11, 2017 - 10:24 am
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Module #5

I’m feeling the positioning as we work our way up the leg is easier for me and starting to feel more natural. The one thing I had trouble with was the first part, putting pressure on the quads. My subject complained several times that I was putting too much pressure, since I’m on the floor and a big person, I have more leverage than I am accustomed to and will have to practice and learn how to control it.

Once I was controlling the pressure better, my subject said it felt very good. She definitely liked the calf and adductors thumb rolling technique. I think it’s neat how I use my foot to block the movement of the leg. I like the body mechanics involved, I think it’s very cool, almost like puzzle pieces working together.

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Shama
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July 11, 2017 - 11:29 am
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The body mechanics are the whole secret of Thai Massage. Without those it can feel really mechanical, lifeless and chopped up. You are right, they are what allows you to connect it all in a flowing way.

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James Sears
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July 13, 2017 - 10:16 am
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Module #6

I think I prefer this legwork to the last module. I felt that I had more control with my forearm on the thigh than I did in module 5 with going straight on the quad with the palms, and my subject found it more comfortable too. I liked using my knee to support her knee.

My subject said it all felt good and liked the lower leg portion best. Overall she was more comfortable with the positioning in this module. She doesn’t care for the rocking technique though she can feel the hip joint being loosened up. Perhaps it would be good for me to explain why I am doing the rocking technique with clients, in case they don’t necessarily enjoy it. What are your thoughts?

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Shama
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July 13, 2017 - 6:19 pm
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If you like, you can explain that rocking works very well in several scenarios:

  • If someone has stiffness which is easily painful with stretching, the rocking loosens it up in a more gentle way and without discomfort.
  • If someone has a subconscious resistance or holding pattern in a muscle or joint, and it is hard to get it to relax, the rocking will often override the subconscious holding pattern and release it more effectively than linear stretches.
  • If someone is very pain sensitive, then rocking is a more gentle way to achieve results since there is no force involved and no deep pressure applied.
  • Most people enjoy the rocking motions. After all, rocking is the oldest method in the world to relax and calm down infants. Adults more often than not still like rocking motions.

Of course like always there can be exceptions and someone might not like the rocking very much. Nothing works 100 percent on everyone. That’s why we need a large repertoire of techniques.

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James Sears
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July 20, 2017 - 11:18 am
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Module #7

It’s very encouraging when you are talking at the beginning of the module about assessing the client. I’m looking forward to learning more about that later on in the course. 

Learning this technique for warming up the leg, things are getting easier for me the more I practice what I’ve learned so far. I guess I’m getting familiar with the flow of the Thai massage technique. My partner thought all the applications from this module felt good.

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Shama
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July 20, 2017 - 12:42 pm
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Without assessing the client, you cannot do the right thing for the client, and it will all be more mechanical. The more you learn to read the client and feel and intuit what needs to be done, the more you will be in a flow state where you will automatically do the right thing – not just mechanically implement a sequence.

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James Sears
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July 21, 2017 - 11:41 am
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Module #8

I appreciate that you pointed out “one size does not fit all.” I’m a large guy with large hands so when I work on small people I will have to adjust my approach. For instance for a typical person I can use a fist to work a certain muscle but for a smaller person I’ll have to use the pads of my fingers.

I like the analogy of the pie for the hip and more of the conceptual learning. As far as the technique that we practiced today, it was very nice. I like the stability of having the foot lodged in the groin, it feels like I have control over the individual’s leg so it won’t wobble around. It’s very solid compared to other stretching techniques that feel somewhat awkward or put a lot of strain on the therapist.

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Shama
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July 21, 2017 - 12:40 pm
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You are the exception here. Mostly I get questions like this: “I am a small female – how can I work on much larger and heavier clients?”. Laugh

However I know from experience that those small female therapists HAVE to get good at using their body weight correctly, whereas big guys like you sometimes have the tendency to work more with their muscles, just because they can, and it doesn’t strain them as much as the small and light therapists. 

So that’s one thing to be aware of. Work with least effort, body weight and good ergonomics in spite of your ability to muscle it without much strain.

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James Sears
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July 29, 2017 - 12:06 pm
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Thanks, that’s a good reminder; it is an instinct to just use muscle power instead of body weight.

Module #9

My subject really liked the spine twist. My subject has been my pregnant wife, and it is getting too painful for her to lie on her back on the floor now, so I will be practicing on a different non-pregnant subject in the future!

When holding the leg up, while I was supporting her leg with her foot in my groin, my hip ridge was getting really tired. Is that normal and I can expect to build up stamina there, or am I doing the technique a bit wrong?

Outside of that, I like the support and stability of these stretches. The tip on how to get the client to release the adductors is useful, as I don’t have to tell you that clients often have trouble letting go!

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Shama
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July 29, 2017 - 1:27 pm
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No, you should not experience fatigue from this technique. Try repositioning the foot until it feels more comfortable. This move has to come out of your whole body without any effort. It is all done with body weight by shifting your body forwards and backwards.

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James Sears
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August 1, 2017 - 9:59 am
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Module #10

My new subject isn’t as flexible as my prior subject, so I needed to be careful to not stretch him too far and am wondering if it would help in the future if I warmed up his muscles first. For a lot of the more advanced stretching, I couldn’t practice on him because of his limited flexibility.

He liked the blood stop, he said it felt good except he felt like I held it for too long.

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Shama
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August 1, 2017 - 10:20 am
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Warming up muscles before doing strong stretches is essential, especially when working on stiffer clients. It is fine to only do warming techniques, but it is not advisable to only do stretching without warming up. 

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