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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz Thai Back Massage Course Progress Notes
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Shama Kern
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January 24, 2020 - 1:52 am
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Having a few sizes of pillows handy for any potential modifications and adjustments is essential. There will always be some clients who need something a little bit different.

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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January 27, 2020 - 1:19 am
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Module 12

In this module I continued with knee work on the lower and middle back,increasing my sensitivity, asking for feedback.  

I feel that my yoga practice is strengthening my balance.  This has been helpful in practicing heel rocking, exploring it on the lower back.  This all feels good!  My clients are liking it!!

While practicing the techniques for the upper back, I am getting a lot more experience in discerning how deep to lean in.  For the most part, my clients prefer broader surface vs thumbs and pointy elbows....and most prefer some sort of movement (circling, wiggling, rocking etc).  I felt smooth with transitioning between all of the trapezeus techniques.  My clients loved the elephant walking....and I was able to lean and reach to the sacrum, walking slowly with a rocking side to side motion.

All good ☺️

Thank you!

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January 27, 2020 - 3:04 pm
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Sounds like you are getting good at this quickly!

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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January 28, 2020 - 1:03 am
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Module 13

For this module I will contrast 2 different practice sessions.  Client A is a thin, tall female.   Client B is a larger muscled, male.   

Elephant walking above the spine was significantly different with each client.  It was much easier to "walk" with my hands on Client B because of the increased size of the erector spinae muscles.  With client A, I  needed to be more conscientious of my hand placement.  

I tried circling with the heel of my hand with my hands upright and then also with my fingertips towards their heads.  On both clients it felt best with my hands upright, moving laterally, with my fingertips lifting when I approached the scapula and continued up to the base of the neck.  

With the rolling and wiggling techniques I needed to be more sensitive (and use less pressure) with Client A....though trigger points were easier to feel on her.  

I enjoyed the techniques where my arm was braced on my inner thigh.  This combination of using multiple body parts (in my perspective)  illustrates how Thai massage is very different than traditional table techniques.

Lastly, both my clients liked the arching the back technique.  Each were asking what body parts I was using - and we're surprised that I was pressing with my knee!  I found that I did not have to use much effort to get a significant effect for the clients.

Thank you!

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Shama Kern
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January 29, 2020 - 12:06 am
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That happened to me many times, that a client had no idea which body part I was using, or they guessed totally wrong. Smile

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 1, 2020 - 11:06 pm
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Module 14

I practiced the side lying position both on the mat and on a massage table.  I found the techniques very useful for loosening up the rhomboids, trapezeus, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, deltoids, erector spinae etc.  I want to add in side lying position more!

I tried the backward bend with several people.  The smaller and shorter the person was - the easier it was to do.  I just took my time getting in and out of the position.

Thank you! 

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 13, 2020 - 4:57 am
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Module 15

Lots of good back stretches in this module!  

I tried to do #2  on several people but was not able to.  I am not a tall or big person and my clients were all significantly taller and larger than me.....but I get the idea!

#3 worked well on several people that I practiced on.  I did support the knee with a cushion.  My clients enjoyed the pulling along their quadratus lumboreum and across the top of the iliac crest.

I was able to trace  the whole area from the lumbar area thru the glutes with my knee.

#6:.  I was again surprised by how much power by feet/ legs have and was reminded to go easy and slower.   I love the techniques that use my feet!  My clients said that it felt like I was kneading their erector spinae muscles....

I was able to do the first 2 cobra back bends...but needed to be conscious of being gentle and slow.

Lots of good techniques ☺️. 

Thank you!

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Shama Kern
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February 13, 2020 - 11:38 am
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The great equalizer - elbows, knees, and feet! Smile

Don't feel bad if you had a hard time with the #2 stretch. That's a bit tricky. Ideally you would practice this one on a light and flexible woman who is about your size. If someone is much shorter or much taller than you, this is more difficult to do. This is a fun stretch for the right client - especially for those yogi types. But it is by no means essential to have it in your repertoire.

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 14, 2020 - 4:08 am
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Module 16

I was able to practice Back Bend #10 on all of my recent clients.  I have been practicing varying the amount of pressure my knees are exerting on their backs.  My clients feel a lot of relief from this one.

Regarding #11, I was not able to do this successfully.  My clients were too big. 

Again, like the last module - I loved adding in my feet to the back bend.  I was able to generate a rhythm of pressing with my feet, releasing, then moving a bit and pressing more etc.

The forward bends also went well.  It seems like the smaller and more physically active clients have more flexibility.   I practiced transitioning from a forward bend to a back bend and back and forth.  

Thank you!

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Shama Kern
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February 15, 2020 - 6:55 pm
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It's always more fun to practice Thai Massage on the yogi types - you can do everything on them, and they enjoy it. But...that's not what the majority of typical clients look like. On the other hand, I have learned a lot more from working on difficult clients than from working on yogis.

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 20, 2020 - 5:25 am
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MODULE 17

This was a fun series of stretches....      I was successful in doing Forward Bend #2 and #3 on all clients this week.   Synching my breath with theirs and then moving accordingly.  These are great for increasing flexibility.    For #3, with some of my tall clients - their legs are long, but they noted a nice deep stretch that extended into their lower back.

I was not able to do the #4 Jack Knife on any clients due to the size differential.

Side Bend Torso Over Thigh stretch was fine.  I found myself supporting the head with my hand. Clients reported stretching of their rib cage.  

Spinal Twist #1:  I tried these in the variety of positions discussed with my legs/ feet in a variety of positions.  My clients preferred movement on the shoulder vs any kind of direct pressure - so I made sure I varied my pressure. In the end, circling with my whole body felt the best to ensure varied pressure with the heel of my hand.  

Spinal Twist #2: This one was relatively easy to do. It felt better when I was gently tractioning up on my clients upper body - giving their head the full space to be on top of their spine....my clients really like this one. Starting gently, then gradually increasing little by little.

Thank you!

~Jennifer

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Shama Kern
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February 20, 2020 - 11:20 pm
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You seem to be doing quite well with these rather involved stretches. Good to hear that! Smile

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 24, 2020 - 1:15 am
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Module 18

....spinal twists!

I found that I was able to do spinal twist #4 much easier than #3 due to the support/ non support issue.  I started both with lighter pressure, and then increased.  

While practicing #5 I noticed the differences in the flexibility between my clients. Some had a challenging time getting their shoulders to stay on the ground....others seemed to melt!

Out of all of this modules twists, I enjoyed #7 the best.  It felt like I had the most flow.   

I need to practice the gallop in #8 more...it did not feel like smooth movements...felt a bit jerky.   I want to try this on other sizes than those that came in this week.

Thank you!

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February 24, 2020 - 11:39 am
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Spinal twists are some of the more intricate moves in Thai Massage. If they are not done with sensitivity, it is easy to overdo them and even hurt clients. I know that because I have been hurt by insensitive therapists here in Thailand who yanked me around too much. That's why I made sure that I presented the spinal twists in this course in a way that prevents such scenarios. 

Spinal twists in Thai Massage can get pretty close to chiropractic work, and they feel great and releasing if done right.

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 27, 2020 - 2:31 am
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Module 19

I practiced the spinal twist #10 in the variety of ways suggested.   My client has very long legs and I ended up hooking their leg on knee - then using my body weight to shift and allow for more of a twist. I added in compression to their arms and shoulders girdle.

My client on which I practiced #11 with was very big.  I found that I needed to be up on my knee a bit instead of sitting on my heel.  This still worked.  My client said that it was a "nice, easy stretch"...

For the tractioning #1 - my client said it felt great!! Very opening on their lower back - though they said my feet under them was a bit uncomfortable for them.   I liked doing this one - though after a bit the clients body became pretty heavy on my toes....because of their size.  Even if I only go into this position for a bit, I feel like it would be very helpful!

Thank you!

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February 27, 2020 - 11:03 pm
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Very heavy clients are kind of a contraindication for this traction move if it hurts your toes. The main thing is to make sure that your feet are at a right angle to your legs to reduce the degree of toe bending. If your foot points forward, it stretches your toes more. The trick with this move is to find the exact right spot where to position your feet. If you are a little bit off, it can feel uncomfortable. However this is best practiced with a lighter client. To start out with a heavy client for this move is very challenging.

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 28, 2020 - 12:13 am
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Shama, Thank you for your insights and comments to the last reply!

Module 20 - Tractitioning

Tractioning #2, version 1:  I was able to do this, but my client (who has a long torso) felt like it did not do much.

Tractioning #2, version 2:  I was unable to do this one due to size of client compared to me (too big).

Tractioning #2, version 3:  My client felt like this one provided a "good stretch to their upper back".

Tractioning #2, version 4:  This one worked the best on my client.  They felt supported from behind and felt like the technique provided a good, strong stretch.

Tractioning #2, version 5:  I found it easier to pull up on my clients upper body, but then found it more difficult  to push with my legs/ knees.

Tractioning #3, version 1 & 2:  My clients felt that this was a nice, gentle stretch that opened up their space between their vertebrae.  I found myself preferring to wrap my arms around their forearms.  My clients all said that it felt "nice and controlled".

Tractioning #3, version 3:  The feedback that I received was that - clients felt an added amount of security - "which allowed for even greater traction to happen."

Tractioning #4:   Clients reported feeling looser in the sacrum area and lower back.   I really liked doing this technique because it felt the best on me.  This was the one all of my clients liked the most.   

Thank you!

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 28, 2020 - 12:24 am
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Module 21

In this module, we were introduced  to one last tractioning technique - the Child's Pose.   My client really liked this and felt that they were able to lower their chest down further to the mat than they were able to do on their own.   This technique feels great for me to do too!

Introduction of the Massage Hammer.   I have looked for a comparable gadget online and have not found one yet that seems to provide both the heat and the movement of the head.....but will continue searching!   I am always open to ways that I can get some bodywork on a regular basis too and gadgets can be helpful!   

I appreciated the summary about working on the back, highlighting key points.

Thank you!

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 28, 2020 - 12:30 am
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Module 22

A lot of information was presented in this module. I typed up a page and a half of notes to use as future reference. I think that it is always helpful to remember all of the possible things that the body can be influenced by and to keep expectations realistic.   I also appreciate and full-heartedly believe in having a holistic perspective regarding massage.  This is not like going to the doctor and having them "fix" you.   The section on progressive treatment techniques was a useful summary/ reminder of many possible applications to one area that can be offered depending on what is needed for that client.  

Thank you!

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Jennifer Flament-Banowetz
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February 28, 2020 - 12:42 am
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Module 23

I hope that it is acceptable to move forward quickly in posting these last few modules.  My workload constantly shifts due to monthly fluctuations as well as the weather - and I have found bigger blocks of time to finish this course.

This last module began with comprehensive demonstrations on moving clients from and to a variety of positions.  I have done some of these in the Complete Thai Course - but really like how these are all presented in one solid chunk.  Since watching this video a few weeks ago, I have been more conscious of how I have been moving around on the mat. I feel like I am still figuring how much I should be moving them. Thus far, I have been reluctant to move them any more than absolutely necessary because I do not want to disrupt their deep relaxed state.  My goal is to become even more fluid in these maneuvers.  

The last portion of the module discussed the Anatomy and Quality of Touch.  I have found all of your suggestions helpful reminders...and have always believed that we are so much more than physical beings.  I have been communicating with bodies for years  - asking areas (without speaking audibly):  what would it feel like if this muscle/ tissue just relaxed now - and then observing shifts happen within seconds....   I also use Matrix Energetics techniques to access information pertinent to my client in each session. 

Thank you for another wonderful course!! I look forward to taking more:)

Many Blessings!!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

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