Regarding the position of the arms of your partner: I never mention this. As long as someone seems comfortable, that's good enough for me. If they look comfortable I let them lie whichever way they want. However if someone looks uncomfortable to me I will help them adjust their position.
Your experience of your knees and your body getting used to the Thai Massage positions is fairly typical. It takes some time for most students to get used to it, but pretty much everyone does get used to it unless someone has a real physical issue.
Toward the beginning of this module, you had pointed out that many of the leg techniques also effect the hip, which was something my partner and I had noticed early on in the course. Many of the techniques that he prefers have an effect on the hip in some way.
The grouping concept has been useful for me throughout the course and having it explained in detail really is a benefit, giving me the confidence to find the best fit for myself and my partner. I did each of the calf stretches demonstrated and with my partners feedback, I was able to find what worked best for him and myself.
While placing my partners feet on my legs with the plantar side of his feet pressed against my stomach, I practiced contraction/traction. I often felt I was moving him back and forth on the mat more than achieving contraction and traction. Eventually, I managed this, but I will need to keep working on this to get to a point that I am not having to think so much about what is going on. Transitioning so that my partners legs were bent and pressed upward was easy and fluid for both of us. The position with his knees apart was most comfortable for my partner, he felt "pinched" with his legs closer together. The gentler version (placing feet lower on my body) didn't really provide much for my partner, but he did indicate that he could see how it would work well for someone who has limited mobility. The strongest version of this stretch proved to be a challenge more for me than my partner. Balance on my part was a bit of an issue. I am also guessing that even though my partner is about 8 inches taller than me, he is probably still too short to be a candidate for this technique, especially since I was able to get a good stretch from the previous version. Elephant walking with the hands on the kneecap was favorable for my partner and I already know that this is a technique that will provide a great benefit to many of my clients who have a lot of SI joint issues. Stretching across the body toward each shoulder was a good stretch for my partner and both this and the circular motion were easy for me to do. I was concerned I would be awkward and maybe off balance, but this wasn't the case.
I was able to transition easily between the previous technique and the next, which was pulling the legs straight and stepping through with my lower leg pushed against my partners upper leg, then leaning forward to stretch his leg from hip to calf. This took a few attempts and some communication with my partner to get the desired result. When going into the stronger version of this by moving the knees out, folding his feet in and placing his ankles below my knee, my partner tensed a bit and almost tripped me. This was actually a good thing to learn now, so that in the future I will know to remind my clients to remain relaxed during this. The stronger version of this, where I sat and pushed the feet higher near the shoulders was awkward for me, but as I get better balance, I am sure it will be easier. I finished with the leg shaking and swinging. My partner thought this was a great touch.
We finished this module and I practiced a lower body session on him. I began with the Chi Machine and several of the foot techniques. For the legs, I mostly did warm up techniques with more stretching for the hip. I finished with the techniques from this module and will admit that I was definitely more fluid with the earlier techniques. I am also finding that I am drawn to some techniques more than others. I can tell I am growing as a therapist with this course and I try to incorporate Thai massage into table sessions. I am getting a lot of great feedback and several of my clients are eager to experience Thai massage when I am ready!
Much of this module covers some of the similar concepts I already follow when it comes to listening to client feedback when it comes to pressure/strength. Through the years, I have learned to listen to my clients body and often don't need to verbally ask for a number from 1-10. Though I did practice this with my partner for the purpose of this module, in general, I have not needed to do so with most of the practice sessions. I do make it a habit to have my practice partners give me their feedback often and will ask them to describe the type of discomfort, if any, a particular stretch has given. While using the concept of the hip pie, I visualize which muscles I am stretching and find that I am able to focus my energy more readily when I do this, along with breathing properly. I do have a tendency to hold my breath at times when I am over thinking something new.
My son, who is my usual practice partner, does sometimes experience pain in his hip with some of the stretches, though it is mild, around a 3-4, which he describes as deep and more of a discomfort than pain. I tried both the scooping and the circular techniques with my fingertips. He did not care for the scooping, but the circular motion helped to relax the tendon and his discomfort moved to a 1-2 when I did the hip stretch again. I also did the more gentle versions of the stretch by wiggling into it and doing the circles.
The addition of the final 2 positions of the hip pie (diagonally across body toward opposite shoulder and diagonally downward toward opposite leg) were both comfortable for my partner. The first gave my partner a good release on the back side of his hip. With the last hip stretch, I did feel a bit stretched out as I placed a knee to block my partners foot so that it would not slip and the other knee close to his thigh. Alternating the lean from left to right provided different degrees of stretch for my partner. When my weight was closer to his knee, he felt the stretch more than when my weight was closer to his hip.
I did the stretches on each leg and then did some additional work. Though I am aware of having a natural flow as you have reminded in the video, I do try not to focus on that, feeling that would be counter active. To this point, I haven't used any music during my practice sessions, but I think that adding it will help. If you have any suggestions, I am always open to new playlists!
At the end of the video, you mentioned a PDF that goes with it. So far, I have only had one PDF attachment, which was with module 1. Is this accurate, or have I been missing them?
For this module, I worked with someone I haven't worked with, my 18 year old son who is a long distance runner. I knew going into the session that he is extremely sensitive to most levels of pressure on the anterior side, so the biggest challenge was working in a way that I didn't create a tickle or pain sensation.
I started by locating the bony landmark of the ASIS and then the groove next to it. Following the video, I gently did the elephant walk very slowly so that my partner would get used to my touch, then gradually working into the quicker rocking motion. For my partner, even though he is a male, he preferred the original technique versus me using my finger tips at the side of the hip. The pressure, even though would be considered minimal to most, was too much for him. As I was doing the rocking, he was listening to the video with me and when you mentioned the word flowing, he felt that was a good word for what it felt like.
The next technique, I was off to the side with my knee next to his hip and one hand on the ASIS and the other just behind the low back. It a few seconds for me to become fluid doing this, and as I continued, my movement became easy and natural. Transitioning this to the next technique with one hand just behind the hip and pulling up while the other hand slides and pushes slightly on the belly was too much for my partner, but I worked within his comfort zone and found that I could do the movement if I just barely touched his abdomen. With the next technique, I was to sit down with my leg folded and close to the body with the other leg crossing over his legs while pulling and rocking the hip, however, I am too short and my foot dangled in the air. I adjusted my position and found I could pull my leg in and sit on it and still be able to get favorable results, this also allowed my other foot to be flat on the floor. You had mentioned to be aware to keep the upper leg that is near the ribs from bumping the ribs. Since I had to adjust my position, my knee was actually closer to my partner's hip. While I was working at using my other leg to hold down his leg, my knee was hitting his hip, which actually was something that my partner thought felt good. I am awkward with my other leg while doing this, but it didn't feel uncomfortable once I adjusted myself.
With the next technique, I moved my partner's leg so that it was at a 90 degree angle with the foot away from his body and held the leg down at the knee and pulling up at the low back with the other hand by leaning my weight back. This technique was uncomfortable for my partner, especially near the knee. I will work with a few others to get more feedback on this.
Transitioning from one side to the other is easy going from left to right for me, but going from right to left has proven to be difficult. This isn't because of my lack of grace, which is often the case, but I have discovered that the knuckle of my great toe on the left foot is very tender. I am able to go from right to left easily, but going down to my knee is difficult because for just a moment, my weight is rotating on my big toe and is quite painful. I have already had one of the doctors I work with treat it and have made an adjustment to my shoes that I wear at work.
In all, I was surprised that my son was able to tolerate as much of the session as he did. He even allowed be to do some of the warm ups from previous lessons. I do think that the gentler side of Thai massage could benefit him a great deal and am hoping that having experienced it will push him to wanting work more often.
Your son seems to be quite pressure sensitive. However this is quite beneficial for your practice. It is more difficult to work gently than to work strongly. A soft, light touch requires a good amount of sensitivity. To go from there to stronger pressure is easy. Practicing on sensitive partners is more beneficial for the learning process than working on people who can take lots of pressure.
For this module, I again worked with my younger son. Knowing that it was going to be abdominal massage, it took him a day or so to mentally prepare because of how uncomfortable he can feel with massage on the front side. He actually did quite well, which I contribute in part to the way the session started - my hand gently placed on his abdominal area. This did multiple things for us. With the light weight of my hand on his abdominals and him breathing gently, our breath began to synchronize. At this point, he was actually able to relax and became comfortable with my touch. Quite a feat for a young man who is typically uncomfortable with only having a finger pointed at his stomach without even touching. At one point, he was very relaxed and said he could feel his blood pumping his abdominal area.
As I listened with my hand, I was able to feel as he relaxed and became calm. Creating a circle/plate with my hands with one on top of the other, I began with minimal pressure and slightly leaning, I followed my hands....heel, edge, fingertips, edge, heel and repeated. For my son, only the fingertips were uncomfortable, so I adjusted slightly to work within his comfort level. This reminded me somewhat of the abdominal massage I would do for him when he was a toddler to help aid in his digestion. Moving on to the next technique, I placed my hands in the center of the abdomen, with one hand on top of the other. With loose wrists, I would drop my wrists and push gently with the heel, then raise my wrists and pull gently with my fingertips. I had to really adjust this for my son, for the most part, he could only tolerate the movements of this technique, and I didn't really push into his abdominal muscles at all. I was still able to get a good feel for using my body and not just my arms, though, possibly even better than I would have with a partner who is more pressure and touch tolerant.
Surprisingly, my son was able to tolerate the techniques that did the same wave technique of push and pull with heel and fingertips when I did them on the diagonal, though he did better when the heel was at the hip and the fingertips were at the ribs versus the other way, with the heel at the ribs and the fingertips at the hip. Working with him this way, I am realizing that the vast majority of his pain/discomfort is in his lower body, which I am certain is from running and not doing proper warmups and cool downs. He has only every really allowed me to do some light stretching on his legs, so he is much tighter than most people I work with. I didn't try to go any deeper with any of these techniques.
I was unable to work along the lower ribs with my thumbs with my son, but did have a patient who had requested some work similar to this a few days ago, though it was on a table and I did each side separately. Once the abdominal work was done, my son was more relaxed and far less sensitive when I began to do the rib techniques. I placed my hands on the lower part of his rib cage with my fingers turned inward. I practiced this from each side, so that when I rocked my body slowly from side to side, I could get a feel for using each leg to help push. He is quite slender so I was aware of my weight as I did the elephant walk upward on his rib cage. Gently circling on the sternum was easier for me with my dominant than my non dominant hand and I did catch myself going in the wrong direction. I was also less coordinated with my non dominant hand while doing the sternum rocking. With feedback from my son, I was able to become more fluid with my entire body. As is normal for me, the more I was thinking about what I was doing, the more awkward I was. I worked on breathing properly and focusing more on my Hara, as well, and found that I was more relaxed and moved more naturally.
It took a few passes of working along the collarbone with fingertip circles, but once a comfortable pressure was achieved, my son was able to tolerate this. I have found that most people are sensitive to work along the collarbone, so this isn't unique for my son. With my small hand size, this also means I have small fingertips, so I will try to keep them close together when working the upper pectorals or will go to a more broad pressure by using larger part of my hand once I have used my fingertips to find the areas that need the most work (listening with my fingertips, as you say).
For my son, the final technique of elephant walking on the shoulders with my heels in the area between the ribs and shoulder, was probably his favorite from this module. Even with his slight build, he was tolerant of the pressure as I leaned right and left. Though this son isn't my usual practice partner, it was a good experience to be able to work with someone who is so sensitive. I practice massage at 2 places. At one, the patients are usually quite ill and fragile and require a softer touch and at the other, I am the therapist who is usually requested by people who are looking for deeper and more specific work. This makes it so important for me to be able to work with different levels of pressure and I feel I have mastered that with table work and am hoping to apply this ability to Thai massage. For me to be successful at this, I feel that I really need to improve on my breathing (I often breathe in when I should breathe out and find I hold my breath when I am focusing on my movements too much), I need to remember to focus more on my quality of touch and what my partner feels like and I also need to work on stopping more gently. I think that being aware of of these things is a big step in becoming a good Thai massage therapist and I can feel how much more natural the techniques are when I am not over thinking them.
I started this module out by actually doing the techniques for module 15 first as a warm up for my partner. With many of the shoulder techniques that required me to grasp the top of the shoulders at the trap area, I had some difficulty at first because of hand size. This partner has more muscle mass than my son. I also had to figure out a way that was comfortable for both my partner and myself. Grasping his shoulders on bare skin made the sliding somewhat painful on his skin because my hands tend to get sweaty. Doing the techniques over fabric felt uncomfortable to me because of the fabric bunching up. With some practice, I did find the correct pace and this was less bothersome to me and became more natural as I was able to do the techniques without thinking about them so much. The elephant walking on the soft area of the shoulder felt really nice to my partner, however, he felt that when I would was doing the shoulder work while kneeling above him and pulling back, this technique didn't work as well as some of the work I do during a table massage. I will work with some smaller partners to see if size effects the quality of the technique.
Moving his arm across his chest, I lifted his shoulder and placed my knee underneath to help support it. I had to be higher up than you in order to reach the inside of the shoulder blade. I had to adjust myself a bit to make this move comfortable and natural feeling. With my left hand against his shoulder blade along the rhomboids, I would lean back and allow my hand to slide upward. My partner really liked this and could feel his shoulder relax. Transitioning this technique so that I was doing circles along the top of the shoulders, I was able to relax his shoulder even more, effecting many muscles (levator, upper traps, rhomboids, supraspinatus, just to name a few). Going to the next technique, I supported the shoulder with my knee and with my left hand and by leaning back, I would pull up on the muscle and with my right hand, I would push the outer part of the shoulder down as my weight shifted forward. It took a few attempts at this to find the most comfortable place for my right hand. This technique was a little difficult because to be close enough for the first part of the move, I felt I had to be too close for the second part of the move. I ended up kneeling more with my foot under me to boost me up.
Sliding my body downward along my partners side, I felt the transition was easy for me. At first, I was holding his hand fine, but we both agreed that I needed to grasp a bit further down the wrist than I originally was. I also struggled with the first side I worked on in finding a comfortable spot for my foot to be in his underarm. As soon as I moved to the second side and immediately found the 'sweet' spot, I realized the error I was making on the first side and went back to it and had favorable results. For this move to work well and feel comfortable for both my partner and myself and to be fluid, I have to keep my lower leg against this particular partners side and allow it to lightly brush against his rib cage. Once I found a good rhythm, this move was favorable for my partner and I really like doing it.
Rotating the arm so that the hand is palm down and above the shoulder is so much easier and feels so much nicer than I had expected it to. When watching the video originally before working with a partner, I was concerned about this move, but my partner really liked it. Instead of kneading, my partner actually liked this technique when I used my free hand to do the 1-2-3-2-1 as I stretched the triceps. Of every stretch I have ever done with him, this has been his favorite so far. Bringing the arm back out and rocking the arm back and forth while placing my other hand on the soft area of the shoulder was a nice finish for both my partner and myself and I have actually started using this in table massage. I have not been able to do the circles quite yet, but I think if I can work with a partner whose arms aren't so long, it will help.
My 3 practice partners are all around the same height but are much different in muscle mass, and their arms are almost as long as my legs, so this makes some of the arms techniques a little difficult to do comfortably, but they are all very good at giving me feedback so that I can adjust. I can feel my quality of touch is improving and with many techniques, I feel comfortable and very fluid and natural. Some, not so much but with continued practice, I find that even those techniques improve as I adjust either my position or how I hold the body. I still am struggling with transitions and moving around the body, though moving from left to right is less difficult than right to left. I think part of this is because of some pain I experience in my left great toe, but I also think that part of this is because I naturally think from left to right, not right to left. My son is actually very good at the transitions because many of them remind him of wrestling moves, so we will work together to help me with this.
It sounds to me like you are doing quite well figuring out the adjustments that you need to make in order for the techniques to work for your size. That it doesn't totally flow yet is to be expected in the beginning. The longer you practice it the more natural it will feel.
My older son was my practice partner for this module. He has some wrist discomfort from breaking both the radius and ulna completely through about 5-6 years ago. We weren't sure how easy or uncomfortable this module would be for him, however, with good feed back, we didn't have any problems, other than the very last technique when I had my thumbs at the base of his wrist, my fingers wrapped around to the back of the wrist and then would shake back and forth. This wasn't necessarily painful, but it made him more aware of the previous injury.
Much of the arm and hand work is very similar to the work I do in table massage, though I try not to use my thumbs as much when working with someone on the table. I will experiment some with the arm techniques to make them more comfortable for myself. My son is lean and has a smaller frame than most of my male clients so his arms are easier to work on. On larger clients, I do not like the feeling of my thumbs being too far away from my hands, and often will use the heel of my thumb whenever possible. The arm warms ups were favorable for my partner, though it did take me a bit to get my body to move with the techniques. When doing table massage, it is natural to use my weight, but I have to think about it more when kneeling on the floor.
My partner really liked the hand work, comparing the feeling to having the foot work done. I was able to find good rhythm almost immediately and could feel that the gentle flexing of the carpals and metacarpals was having a relaxing effect on my partners hands. I did find it easier to work on the palm side of the hand versus the bonier back side, however, this is probably because I work more on the palm side in general and with time, this will be more natural for me. The massage on the fingers is the same that I already do in massage, though I like to add working on the inside of the fingers, not just the front and back. So many of my clients work a lot with their hands and the extra attention really helps to loosen their fingers. I also circle the fingers both clockwise and counter clockwise while supporting just above the base knuckle. This also helps to reduce fluid retention and ease some symptoms of RA.
Interlacing my fingers with my partners fingers proved to be a great stretch and my partner really liked this. The wave effect of pulling my fingers and then pushing back had two affects, it mobilized the wrist gently and provided traction to the third/base knuckles. It did take me some time to become fluid with this technique and when I have used it with other clients, I am initially a little uncoordinated with it, but then find a good flow.
With my son, as long as I worked slowly and paid attention to how his wrist moves (there is only slight restriction), he was fine with the techniques that mobilized his wrist. Some techniques concerned him when he watched you demonstrate them in the video, but when I actually did them, he found that they were much easier than expected. We hadn't really ever rehabilatated his wrist other than the physical therapy he went through in the months after it was broken, but I think we will continue to use these techniques to help reduce his discomfort.
I finished the techniques in this module and then practiced some of the earlier techniques so that I could work on transitions. My son is actually very helpful with this aspect of Thai massage, so it is proving to be a good partnership.
Family members can be great practice partners. They are easily available and you might even turn them into fans of this work.
Long term hand work can be very beneficial, especially if there is an old trauma like in your son's case. I sure hope you can help him improve it. If it gets a little too difficult for your thumbs, you can also use the heel of the hand, or even elbows and knees. I generally do that on people with large hands. Try to do gentle circular knee rotations on the palm with the arm outstretched at a right angle to the body. You have to sit on your heels when you do that so that there isn't much weight coming from your knee. Or you can be up on your knees and support yourself on both hands, again making sure that not too much weight goes into the knee.
For this module, I again worked with my 21 year old son learning to do transitions around the head and also some twists and shoulder work. As is normal for me, the transitions are somewhat difficult and I don't end up in the correct spot when following how you show in the video. I was able to maintain contact with the arms and hands and raise them, lower them and stretch them fine, but the movement around the head was choppy for me. I have found that practice is making this easier, but I still will need to adjust somewhat for my size when working on someone who is longer and broader. Even when I was feeling choppy, my partner said that my flow felt smooth to him. When I stood at my partners head and pulled his arms upward L-R-L-R, I was able to find the flow easily and this technique was favorable to my partner and my short height was a plus with this.
With the upper body back twist, I wasn't able to do the technique exactly as you have shown. I was unable to be in a sitting position but instead was on my knee. This allowed my other leg to reach over his upper leg to hold it down. My partner and I both found this to be comfortable. This position made it easier for me to use my body more while doing the circles and allowed for the straight pull to be strong, which my partner really liked. When doing the lower spine twist, I moved my partners knee out and placed his foot next to his knee. To do this stretch effectively, I had to adjust my position and instead of using my foot to hold his lower body down, I had to place my knee on his thigh (done gently and with control). My upper hand was placed along the upper rhomboids and stayed in one place while my lower hand moved along the back, with my fingers close to the lamina groove along the spine. Having small hands, this did take a few attempts to do effectively and I don't know if I will be able to do this on someone who is much broader than my son. The strong version of pulling straight back was comfortable for both my partner and me.
The figure 8 technique was difficult to do for me, not just because of trying to coordinate the circles on both sides, but because I was in so close to my partners chest, it seemed like more of a hug than a stretch. I adjusted and did the circles on each side separately. This was more comfortable to both my partner and myself. I will work on someone small to work on coordination with this move.
After practicing with the video, I did a session with my son trying to work naturally without referring to any of the videos. I started at his feet and worked on one leg, then transitioned to the other leg and finally to the hips. (He wanted some lower work to follow up with the upper work we had already done). I am finding that my transitions are getting easier and I have nice flow, but I forgot what I did on the first side, so I ended up thinking too much on the second side and my flow wasn't as good. I am sure that with more practice, this will get easier. I don't have a typical routine I follow in table massage, but do what the body needs, so often it is a little different from one side to the other, but the two sides during this session were very different. My son thought what I did felt good and was effective, but it felt like two separate massages. I think for now I will follow my first massage instructors advice. She would always say to KISS...keep it super simple. Going back and practicing earlier techniques is also helpful.
I am very glad to hear that you are creatively modifying your position so that it works for your size in combination with larger partners. That's really what it is all about. Thai Massage will never feel good, neither for you nor for your client, if you just use the one-size-fits-all approach. There needs to be adaptation, modification, and creativity to make it all work. There are so many positions and techniques that there is no way to make one way of doing it fit all situations.
For the 2nd summary, I continue to work with my son. He really has a good feel for what Thai massage is and his feedback is very beneficial. I followed the techniques in the video, pausing and replaying it when necessary. I also did a session without the video, doing what felt best to me and what it seemed my partner needed most. His problem areas tend to be his hips from sitting at a computer a lot and his legs and feet, as well, from working on his feet all day.
My transitions from one side to the other are definitely getting smoother and I am less awkward doing them. Going from technique to technique has come together nicely for me, with some being a little more fluid than others, and I have gotten better at remembering what I did on the first side so that I can keep the 2nd side somewhat similar. I find that going back to earlier videos to refresh myself with the techniques is helpful for this. With my partners feedback, I find a comfortable position for both of us. The transition around the head is getting easier for me, though not as natural as transitioning around the lower part of the body.
The Quantum Touch technique is new for me, though the concept is something I realize I already do, though not to this extent. With you explain it and provide a better understanding, it has given me a way to refocus during a massage. I begin every massage by connecting with my client. With table massage, I begin at the head and neck and introduce my client to my touch and energy gently and become familiar with them, as well. Since Thai massage begins at the feet, it takes me a bit longer to do this. With the Quantum touch technique, I find that I can feel the connection sooner. I do at times find I have gotten distracted by random thoughts in my head during a massage and occasionally will have trouble finding the connection with my client again. The Quantum Touch technique helps with this. To me, it feels as if I am renewing my own energy as I do this. Breathing properly remains an issue. Mostly, I find I hold my breath at times, but I am getting better with this the more I practice. I do think that part of this issue is when I talk to my partner when asking for feedback, I lose focus.
One thing I feel is missing for myself is neck work. I have had extensive training on treating cervical dysfunction and this is something many of my regular massage clients come to me for. I understand this is an introductory course and spinal work is typically advanced, but as I progress, I will need to be able to do work on the neck, as well. Do any of your other courses cover this?
Yes, the Heavenly Head Massage course covers A LOT of neck work. You can take a look at it here:
Working with elbows and forearms is a technique I always use, which is one of the many draws to Thai massage for me. The biggest difference I have found when using elbows in Thai massage is that since I am in a seated position or on my knees instead of standing, I don't have the same feel for the amount of pressure I am using. I began the work on the sole of the foot, his ankle resting on my thigh and used light pressure, especially on my partners right foot, which is the one he has pins in the 5th metatarsal. With his feedback, I adjusted to firmer pressure and worked each foot until I felt I had a natural rhythm and felt natural. This technique did not bother my partners foot.
Adjusting my position so that I was below his feet instead of between them, I help my partners foot similar to how you instructed, and with my elbow resting against my hip (not the stomach as you do, this doesn't work for me), I supported his ankle with one hand and with my other hand, I grasped the top at the heel to do traction and contraction on the ankle, knee and hip. My partners feedback indicated that I needed to move his leg in so that it was straight. You may have said to do that, but I must have missed it. Once I did this, he was able to feel the pull. I did this several times, until I felt natural and wasn't thinking so much about my movements. Adjusting my position, I placed my inside arm on my inside leg and used my own movements to rock back and forth, quickly finding a good rhythm. Once I felt I was able to do this without thinking about my movements, I moved on to the calf stretch. With my knee against my partners knee, my hand on his heel and my forearm against the sole of his foot, I had to be on my knees to push down and lean my weight into the calf stretch. This stretch was not strong at all for my partner. His foot is nearly as long as my forearm, so there just isn't much leverage.
Next, I adjusted my position so that I once again was between his feet and with my thumb and my first two fingers (just index was uncomfortable for me) "pinching" the achilles, I did a lift and pull massage in a circular pattern. As with most things, I felt more fluid doing this with my dominant hand. My non-dominant forearm and wrist sometimes cramp up when I do this type of work, so I rarely do it. Moving on to the elephant walk, I had to rise to my knees from the start because I do not have a very far reach. I naturally want to roll the muscle out to give it a gentle stretch and pull. I was easily able to slide forward so that I could work higher on the hamstrings and gluteals. I did several passes and when the muscles were warm, as I neared the upper femur, I would gently hook the bone to help move the joint gently as well as warming up the muscle.
My partner didn't have any issues with his neck being uncomfortable while lying on his stomach with his head turned. There are times when someone in my family wants a quick neck or back massage and instead of putting my home massage table up, I will just use the face cradle from my table as they lay on either the bed or the floor. Depending on who it is, I will place a pillow under their chest, as well. This really seems to work well, though being new to Thai massage, I have yet to discover if the face cradle will be in the way at some point during the massage. I plan on using pillows most of the time, but think there will be a few occasions that the face cradle will work best.
The face cradle will work fine for the prone position in Thai Massage with the exception of some stretches where you lift the upper body around along with the head. That makes it hard for the client to hit the face cradle just right every time. However when you work on the muscles of the back, the face cradle should be comfortable.
For this module, I worked with a couple of different partners. Each partner naturally had his feet and knees pointed out, so I adjusted so that their feet and knees were in and off of the knee cap. With the legs open at a fairly wide angle, I slid in between the legs. I had to lift by grasping above the knee. I was concerned about the possibility of hurting the knee if I wasn't supporting it the lower leg, but each partner indicated that there wasn't any issue with pain or discomfort. I found that I was able to move easily and naturally into position.
With the first partner, I had to adjust my position a few times and with his feed back, I was able to find a comfortable position for both of us. To support the lower leg, I had to have my foot that was farthest from my partner so that it was planted on the floor and my knee was up off the floor. I had to turn my partners leg slightly so that I would have better access to the first line, the center of the hamstring. Leaning with my weight, I did 1-2-3-4-3-2-1. I did this until I felt I was working naturally and with a good rhythm. Moving on to the 2nd line, which was the lateral hamstring, I again leaned with my body weight using 1-2-3-4-3-2-1. With the first line, both my partner and I didn't feel it was very strong, but moving into the 2nd line, it was stronger and both partners could feel the muscles relax, especially nearest the hip. When moving to the third line, I adjusted my partners leg so that it was bent more and the foot was blocked by my foot and my other leg. Working on the IT band, I worked slow and softly and asked my partner for feed back. One of my partners didn't have any issues with pain, but the 2nd partner had a few areas that were tender when I leaned. After multiple passes of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1, I found a good rhythm and was able to find the softness needed.
Grabbing my partners foot and ankle, I placed his foot into the inside of my thigh, my hand on his knee and my forearm resting against his lower leg, I slid myself up so that his leg was at an angle. I had to adjust my position somewhat so that my thigh wasn't pushing uncomfortable into my partners thigh. This position exposed the hip better so that I could use my forearm and elbow to work in the gluteals. To effectively do this, I had to change my position so that I was up higher, sitting on my foot and lower leg instead of the floor. I spent several minutes working in this area to help release the tight and deep muscles around the hip and glutes. This technique is very similar to what I already do with table massage, so I was very comfortable working with my elbow and locating the muscles that needed the most attention. Transitioning so that the leg was again straight was easy, though I didn't do it quite the same as you do. With feedback from my partners, I practiced this transition several times to be certain that I was doing it in a controlled way without jarring the knee at all. Neither had any issues. I then did the same rocking that you demonstrate in the video. Each partner described this as nice, that it was relaxing to the hips and low back.
Next, I raised the leg and made what looks like a figure 4 with my partners leg, with his foot resting on his opposite hamstring. I used my hand to hold this foot in place and with my other hand, I did 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 by keeping my arm straight and leaning. Each partner liked the feel of having the hamstring stretched gently outward. I did this a few times and then added a rocking motion to it just to see what my partners feedback would be. Both liked that. With my partners leg still in the figure 4 position, I followed how you used the flat part of your knee to work on the lateral part of the lower leg. This was the first time I had ever used a knee as part of a massage, so I asked my partner for a lot of feedback. The motion of shifting my weight from one leg to the other wasn't difficult, but I was concerned about the amount of weight that would be required and didn't want to use too much. I was surprised at how little weight was required to be effective.
The final glute stretch demonstrated for this module is also something I use during a table massage. I really like being able to use my body movements to rock the hip while using my weight to push outward. I like the benefit this gives to people and both of my partners had positive feedback. I finished the session with each partner by rocking each leg out separately.
For the most part, I am able to pull most of what I have learned in previous lessons together and have an idea of how each new technique needs to be done as you explain it. I am also able to predict fairly well what I will need to do to adjust so that I can do the techniques effectively. I have been able to add some things to what you demonstrate to give my partner the work he needs in a specific area, drawing from my own massage knowledge. My breathing is becoming more natural and I can feel that I am working in sync with my partners much sooner than earlier in the course. Practicing comes easily and is enjoyable and I find that I am usually a few lessons ahead of my posts.