I received the first video for the Complete Thai Massage course yesterday and the second video today. I can already tell that I made a great choice for myself. I was planning on taking an orthopedic massage CEU this summer, however, I really was looking to add something new to my skill set to be able to help my clients progress in their therapies. Some of the techniques I naturally use during a treatment session are similar to Thai Massage techniques and I really look forward to learning to use my body mechanics properly.
Having the course broken down so that new material is available every third day is a plus. This will prevent me from focusing on only one aspect of my life and will keep me in touch with other parts of my life (I'm supposed to be at the gym swimming laps and I will be cutting some training time with my horses short this evening to work with my son, who is my practice partner.)
I look forward to each new technique and am eager to learn! Enjoy what the day has to offer!
The gradual delivery is the reason that this course has a much higher follow through and success rate than just buying a DVD.
Swimming laps, riding horses and motorbikes and rock climbing - you seem to have an active lifestyle. Swimming and riding my motorbike are on my program as well. What kind of bike do you have?
Here in northern Thailand we have beautiful mountains with scenic roads which are great for bike rides, plus there are 3 swimming pools within 5 minutes of my home. Actually when I look out of my window I am looking right at a nearby mountain. I posted a picture of this view on facebook on Feb 2.
I have a Kawasaki Vulcan 500. It is a smaller bike, but I still tippey-toe it. Which actually brings me to my first question.
I am considerably shorter than my practice partner and the majority of my current clients are taller than me with most of the men being much taller. Will this size difference affect the quality of my technique? I have a feeling as I progress through the course, you will address this or at the very least, it will become evident on its own.
I will check out your Facebook page! This part of Kansas is very flat, so for me to hike and climb, I have to travel at least a few hours. Despite the lack of mountains, there are still some beautiful sunsets here.
The size difference will not affect the quality of the techniques, but it will affect which techniques you use and how you pick the appropriate version or modification of the technique. And you are right, you will hear a lot about this throughout the course.
Size and weight differences are a major factor in Thai Massage. It is not an obstacle, but it will require modifications bases on those differences. Here in Thailand most therapists are female and quite small and light. Many of their customers are western tourists who are much taller and heavier than they are. Those small Thai women can handle those larger bodies very well. It is just a matter of using your body and your body weight in the correct way. This is one of the major focus points of this course.
I worked on module 3 today and have to say, it was good timing. After we spent the day hiking, my significant other was asking for some work on his feet. Instead of the usual rehab I typically do, I used the techniques from the foot massage 1 video. Hand size is definitely an issue, however, the longer I did it, both he and I could notice the improvements. My son is my primary partner but I see the benefit of having multiple people to work with.
Since I use a table for my massage clients, the floor work is proving to be a bit uncomfortable for me, especially my lower legs. I know that like anything else that is physical, my body will get used to the new positions and eventually, it won't be as much of an issue. I have watched all of the videos so far several times and I will go back again over the next few days to see if maybe I am kneeling incorrectly. I will also be more consistent on scheduling times to get a massage myself.
So far the course is going great and I really like the pace. It is definitely slow enough to allow me to focus on each new technique but when I take everything already learned, I feel challenged as I pull it all together.
You are right, many students initially report problems with their positions on the mat, but so far in all cases they got used to it after a while. Actually once you get used to working on a floor mat, you will find that you will have more effective ergonomics and more power.
Regarding hand size being an issue when working on the feet - that's another area where with time and practice you won't feel that this an issue anymore. I am saying this based on the fact that there are many thousands of therapists here in Thailand who are mostly small Asian women with small hands, and they all manage to be very effective with their work. However there are also foot techniques where you don't need your hands and work with knees, feet, forearms or elbows instead.
Naturally it will feel challenging initially, and even more so after you went through a few more modules. There are lots and lots of techniques in Thai Massage. However once you learn and remember them, you can be an amazing healing artist with a wealth of techniques and skills at your fingertips, and you will be able to do lots of work which really helps your clients very effectively.
No doubt, it will take some some, and it is something to look forward to.
I worked on module 3 (again) and module 4 today with my son. Though he and my significant other are similar in height, my son is lighter and definitely more flexible. His feedback was similar, though he was able to provide a little more detail and had suggestions that helped improve my technique.
A challenge with my son is that he has metal pins in his right foot from surgery a few years ago to repair a broken fifth metatarsal. I adjusted my grip and worked within his comfort level. We discovered that a pillow placed near the outside of his foot helped cushion it when pressed outward and the pain was mostly eliminated.
I have also noticed that I really do incorporate similar techniques into my current massage routine. I don't feel like I have done my job if I haven't stretched my clients and mobilized their joints and have already noticed an improvement in my mechanics and my overall touch. One of the places I work treats chronically ill patients who have often tried every doctor recommended treatment out there with little to no success, often backtracking due to the heavy and prolonged use of toxic medicines. When a patient feels they have reached a place that they are "well" (subjectively), they ring what we call the "Well Bell". This usually occurs after several visits covering a span of months. This week, we have had two patients who rang the bell. One, at the end of her 2nd day, the other, at the end of his 8th day. You may wonder why I am telling you this. These two patients were my last patient massages on the day that he/she rang the bell. I often get comments about my natural touch, but I have noticed a postive difference after only a week into this course and I believe that our patients are benefiting from that. The doctors are amazing at what they do, so I would never want to take away from that, but I also know that a little bit of the right thing can go a long way. I am very grateful for what I have already learned through this course and anticipate the next module much like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting to see what is under the tree in the morning!
I worked on the 5th and 6th modules this week. I watched both videos multiple times before finally getting the chance to do any hands on practice. The past week has been very busy here for me. (I gave 36 massages last week, have already given 20 this week and still have 3 days to go...WAY too many).
As with previous modules, I again am noticing how size effects technique. Even though I struggled at times with the positions and and with reaching the area of my partner I was working on, I was able to work with my partner to adapt so that both he and I were comfortable. I am confident that with the commitment and patience, I will successfully adapt the more challenging techniques to accommodate my partner and my future clients.
What I have noticed since the start of this course is that many of the techniques you demonstrate are similar to techniques I use every day in table massage. With the heavy workload I have and considering so many of my clients have a lot of mechanical dysfunction, I have learned to work smart. I have also incorporated some of the foot massage techniques into my table massage routine with a slight variation that works best for me. The results are pleasing. With less time and effort, I am able to release not only the tightness in the foot and ankle, but the lower and upper leg also are also more relaxed before I have even worked on them. I often feel obligated to my clients to go over on time by a few minutes because I try to be as thorough as possible, but with the time saved on the anterior leg, I am definitely able to have successful time management. I have also had some very positive feedback with the new technique.
Now I just need to get someone to practice on me
"Now I just need to get someone to practice on me"
How many times have I thought that - I am teaching all this great stuff, and now I would love to receive it myself. However that has never really happened in my case since a lot of my courses contain very unique material which you don't find in typical standard Thai Massage courses.
So for me it will mostly remain wishful thinking to receive what I am teaching. In your case I hope that you find a good practice partner who can return the favor to you.
My most recent module is #7. Parts of this was difficult due to my hand size, other parts I "got" quickly. I'm not really worrying about fluid movement from one technique to another right now but am more concerned with how each technique feels to myself and to my partner. The assessment part of the video is something I am very familiar with and use everyday. I really like that what you demonstrate and your instructions/descriptions are for the most part in line with my way of massage.
My practice partner does a great job of giving feedback that allows me to adjust my movements so that we get the best feeling traction possible. So far, the technique that pulls the hip toward the opposite side (demonstrated around 20 minutes-21 minutes) has been his favorite move.
In your previous post, you mentioned that your course material is unique and it is difficult to find someone who can give you the same treatment you provide. I completely understand that. I have yet to find another therapist who is able to provide the same treatment I do, who is able to find the specific areas of specific muscles the way the way I do or feel the same energy and lymph blockages that I do. I'm sure part of that is just a natural gift, but I also think some of it is part of being thorough. I once had a patient at the clinic ask what my technique was so she could find someone like me when she returned home. I told her I wasn't sure, that I pull things from several modalities so that the treatment is the right one for her. Each new video with the course demonstrates something similar to what I already do, but in a new and improved way. It is very exciting to learn a better way!
Kathy, I work like you do. I have pulled from various modalities, and I work in a very intuitive way. Good massage is never just a sequence of techniques, it is a way of learning to sense what each client needs and choosing the best way to work. Unfortunately Thai Massage is often taught and portrayed as a mechanical sequence of techniques. While this might be a first step in learning it, it is not the final step by any means. There is a lot more to it, and I am sure you will recognize and appreciate a lot of those concepts throughout this course since they seem to agree with your way of working.
I have been working on Modules 8-11. (I have gotten behind on posting, but have been doing the lessons as they arrive in my email).
I have so many "Aha!" moments with this course. So many of the techniques are things I have used in my practice, and as I learn new things and work with new and a greater variety of clients and patients, some of those techniques have been forgotten. I am enjoying rediscovering these as well as discovering new ways. And of course, improving my own techniques.
This module reminds me that my power comes from working slowly, using my entire body and its energy to work with my client. I have always had to do this with table massage, but I can feel the improvements over the past few weeks as I work. This has been both a positive and a negative. When I first became a massage therapist professionally, I would "pick up" so much of the bad energy released from my clients as I worked with them. On days that I was doing 5-7 massages, I would often be drained, felt unwell and usually ended up with a terrible migraine. Somehow, my body self adjusted and I wasn't experiencing this much, only occasionally, but rarely did I get ill. I am definitely becoming more sensitive to others, to their energy, especially the blockages. My client and patient load is very high right now, and some of the sickest patients I have seen at the clinic are getting treatment right now. Often, my hands feel heavy as I work and I do get rid of this by returning it to Mother Earth as my Native American friend has reminded me. I feel part of my job as a therapist is to help restore energy, not just relax the body or help improve function and reduce pain even though I am not an energy worker. I am hoping that as I progress through this course, I learn to do this with Thai massage, as well.
The techniques that I have noticed most beneficial so far from this module are loosening the hip joint with rocking, with circles and rocking sideways into the stretch. I have incorporated these into a few of my table sessions. One of my clients came back the following week for her session and raved about how great her hips felt after the previous session.
As always, I am very excited about this course and can really see doing this with many of my clients and expect that I will find a great demand for Thai massage!
The information in this lesson really reinforces the idea of using the whole body and not to try muscling into any stretches. Also, the idea of the hip pie concept really gives me a greater focus on the specifics of each stretch.
As is normal, I watched this video a couple of times before working with my practice partner and then when we actually work together, I follow the video exactly, pausing it and going back several times so that he and I can discuss how it feels to him and also to gain his perspective on what you are demonstrating and are saying. We began this session by going back to the leg warm ups first to help with any discomfort he was experiencing. My practice partner is a 21 year old male, with lean muscle, little fat and works out a few times a week. He was also experiencing testicular torsion that day, so we worked within his comfort zone.
After the warm ups, I tried a few different ways of doing the stretches. For him, doing them the same as you do with his foot in my groin felt the best, even though my size would dictate using the power version. This version felt awkward to me and I did feel like I had less control. To him, it didn't feel as if I had the same level of strength or control, as well. I followed the 1, 2, 3 for the pressure points, but will admit that if I was asking him for feedback at the time, I would do more than the 1, 2, 3 which brings me to ask if that is an absolute. I have noticed that with my hand size, adding a 4th point seems appropriate at times.
The gentleness of rocking back and forth was very beneficial in relaxing my partner, not just in the hip, but the low back and the entire thigh. It took a bit more practice to get the circles down and I was definitely better at it when I moved to his second side. All together, he and I spent roughly 1 hour working on this video, working from each side.
I also worked with 2 others with these techniques, but not while using the video, I just did what felt "right". The first, a 42 year old male, was actually more flexible than the younger male and his feedback, though similar, was able to help me feel the differences in different body types. To him, the stretches felt better than the rocking and warm ups because of the deepness they offered. The second, a 66 year old woman who suffers from arthritis in her sacrum and experiences severe discomfort on a daily basis felt the greatest benefit from rocking the hips and then going into the stretch. Her session was on a table as she is one of my weekly rehab clients. I was definitely able to feel her gluteals and QL's give and release a bit more than usual and with a little less effort.
I have added some of the techniques from this course (adjusted a bit to work with the table) that I have learned so far into my daily sessions and the response has been very positive, both in client/patient perception and in what I observe. I have discovered that the biggest challenge for me thus far is breathing properly, though this was a problem for me when I began massage, so I am sure that it will come with more practice and be more natural when I am thinking less about what I am doing.
You clearly have great practice habits - watching the videos a couple of times before you implement the material. And you practice on several people - that is really ideal so that you get a feel for the different body types.
Regarding the 1-2-3-2-1 method, this is not a hard and fast rule. If you work on a long body part and your hands are small, you can easily turn it into 1-2-3-4-3-2-1. You can always modify and adapt things if it feels right to you and your client. The ultimate goal is to work creatively and intuitively without needing to follow set routines or sequences. Those are necessary to learn the material, but they are not the end goal.
As I progress through the modules, I can tell my movements between the different moves are becoming more fluid and natural. I started the module with my practice partner by beginning with some of the warm ups. I also worked with 2 other people for this module. With each, the results were varying. The test for checking the adductors to see if they are tight and then bouncing the leg gently to help to relax the inner leg was very useful and I achieved good results with this. Hearing you say that tight muscles will use extra energy was one of those things that I knew, but just hadn't thought of. This is something that I will remember to tell my clients going forward.
When moving the leg into the 90 and 45 degree angles, my practice partner demonstrated tightness, and he communicated with me well so that I worked within his comfort zone. We placed a pillow to support his leg and to prevent me from accidently going past what he was comfortable with. With the other 2 people, one had no discomfort and enjoyed the stretch and the 'elephant walk' as well. With the other person, the session was on a table, so the stretch was applied a bit differently and without the elephant walk. This stretch felt strong, but not uncomfortable. All 3 people I worked with liked the feel of having their hips rocked while in the angled position. One had even said that if that was all that was done for the hips, it would be useful.
The hamstring stretch was awkward at first because I struggle to get that extra at the end by leaning forward, but I played around with it and managed. Truthfully, none of the people I worked with actually required the deeper hamstring stretch, so it wasn't really an issue.
While crossing the leg over the body and placing the foot next to the opposite knee, I found the biggest challenge was hand size. The heavier the person, the more difficult this was for me and working with my dominant hand was much easier than my non-dominant hand. I am confident that with more practice, this will begin to get easier and I will adapt to make it work for me.
I really feel like my body is learning Thai massage and that I am not just going through the motions. I find that my knees and ankles aren't experiencing the same level of discomfort that I had during the earlier modules and I am not as stiff as I move from each new position. I definitely have a long way to go, but the improvements are noticeable.
It is true, your body has to learn Thai Massage. It's not just a matter of doing it, but of merging with it so that it feels like second nature, like a natural flow or dance with your client's body.
Practicing on several people will teach you a lot about how to implement the techniques. They don't just work on everyone in the same way. That's a big part of the art of Thai Massage, to find out what works on whom and how to adjust and adapt to different types of bodies.
With the introduction of the the Hara concept, some of the other concepts come together a bit more easily, for me at least. "Thinking softness" as you put it and working soft and slow with the client/partner is a bit easier. Though the concept of Hara is new to me, if I think of it as where my energy comes from, I have noticed that this really does slow me down and gives me a better focus without really requiring any additional thinking. Being a smaller therapist, I have always known the importance of working with my entire body to be effective, but feel that this is even more important as I learn Thai massage so that it is comfortable for both myself and my client. Without comfort, the client won't be able to enjoy the massage and it won't be effective.
I worked with 2 different people with this module. The spinal twist technique was favorable to both, including the stronger variations. My size did effect the strength somewhat, but I tried different positions and found what worked best and felt best to both myself and my practice partner. While stretching the leg straight and across the body, I practiced the 3 different strengths. The first 2 positions were comfortable for both partners, the 3rd with the foot in front of my knee was uncomfortable, and with one of my practice partners, I actually did not even attempt to fully go into this version of the stretch because of how tight his hamstrings are. Transitioning this technique into a spinal twist was comfortable to myself and my partners.
The next technique, I started my partner with an angle above 45 but below 90 and gradually was able to get it to just above 90. Placing my ankle under my partners ankle and lifting by raising my heel and rocking to my toes as demonstrated did not really feel like it was doing much, but each partner said that it was effective. I was actually surprised at how little it took to work. My first practice partner did not like the blood stop, though his feedback indicated that having his leg angled in a abducted stretch probably was a strong contributor to this. My second partner had a little better feedback for this, but said he could understand why my first partner didn't like it. I know a lady who lived with her family in Thailand for a few years, and she was talking about the blood stop technique a few weeks ago. Her experience with this was mixed, depending on the therapist who worked on her, so I do feel that as I continue to progress and develop a better sense of working softly with my entire body, I will also learn to feel my clients comfort zone as I do with table massage.
I usually feel a little awkward and even off balance the first time I work on someone with the video and when I switch sides and do it again, I do feel a little more comfortable. I also develop better flow when I work with additional partners, which is usually without the video. I have begun to feel more comfortable adapting the techniques to work best with my own size and what feels more natural. In the beginning, I was trying so hard to do things exactly as you do, that I was over thinking it but you have been reassuring that everything does not need to be so exact and it is important to feel natural doing the techniques.
You got that right Kathy. Your way of working will be a little different from my way of working since there is a considerable size difference between us. Ultimately every Thai Massage therapist has to figure out some adaptations and modifications to make the techniques work for them and for their clients. That's the art of it.
Regarding the blood stop, just abduct the leg less. The trick is to sink in very slowly and softly, otherwise it will feel harsh and abrupt. If done right, which takes practice, this move will produce a delightful sensation.
This module demonstrated a lower leg session in real time including foot warm ups and stretches and leg warm ups and stretches. Though this was definitely too fast, it still gave me the opportunity to follow a full lower body/leg session and practice moving slowly from each position and to also move my partners legs in a way that was both safe and comfortable for him.
Something I noticed right off that I can't recall from the original video that demonstrated the Chi Machine, I see that your partner is laying in the anatomical position with her palms face up. I often ask my partner to lay with his hands at his side when practicing this and other techniques, but haven't really been specific as to how to lay. Does this matter? I do know laying in anatomical position is better for keeping the shoulders in a more correct position and can be helpful in reducing forward rolled shoulders, so it does seem that there is a benefit from this.
My partner likes that Thai massage starts at his feet and agrees with your statement that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. The foot techniques are among his favorite. The concept of the 8 different things that can be done with the foot has really given me more focus and a more thorough technique with the foot.
When practicing the first 10 modules, I have always made sure to spend enough time on warmups, feeling they are very important for both a relaxing and a safe massage. I was glad to see that you spent quite a bit of time on warmups, as well. I do sometimes wish that there were an overhead view added to the lessons so that I could see the angles a bit better. However, I do watch the videos several times and with consistent practice and good feedback from my partner, I eventually get it figured out.
My partner and I followed what you did with the video for each leg, and then I worked on him without the video. On my own, I went slower and used his feedback to determine which techniques to use. I am still a little clumsy, but I am fairly pleased with the progress I have made thus far and am actually quite surprised at how little discomfort I experience. Starting this course, my biggest concern was the discomfort from kneeling and sitting on my feet. I was certain I would do well at learning the techniques, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to execute them. This I am happily finding isn't so.