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Laura Sprague - Complete Thai Massage Course
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Shama Kern
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August 31, 2021 - 9:29 am
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You are right, clients don't always speak up and say what is on their mind, so your daughter is a good practice partner in this regard.

I have played soft music in most of my sessions, so nothing wrong with that, especially if it helps you.

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Laura Sprague
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September 2, 2021 - 6:48 pm
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Module 24 

Prone Back 1

This was an interesting lesson for me because it taught me something about using body weight that I can apply to my whole practice, not just these moves.  When I tried the opposite-side techniques it felt like I couldn't get the rhythm/feel the elasticity like I often do in these sort of leaning moves, even when I tried to relax.  After a bit I stood up to see if I could get a more direct push and that worked!  I was standing like a giraffe with my legs wide, back straight, shoulders directly over my hands, and then I could really feel it and so could my client, in a good way.  I am short, and I know this, so any time I feel like I can't get a good angle I'm going to see if my height plays a factor and attempt to adjust accordingly.  Of course, once I found this position the more I relaxed, the deeper I sunk in to her back and the more she enjoyed it.  

I asked her about the sensation of pulling in her skin and she did not notice that to an uncomfortable degree so I think I may be getting better at that (although she is a tough, strong woman in her late 40s so I don't expect her skin to be sensitive like my daughter's skin.  I found my body wanting to move in small circles as I applied pressure and wonder if that is an acceptable and beneficial way to do it.  The last technique with the hands pulling in opposite directions was challenging but watching you do it on the video again helps me absorb the technique with my mirror neurons.  🙂 

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Shama Kern
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September 2, 2021 - 8:37 pm
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I am glad to hear that you are figuring out ways to adjust your techniques creatively, like the 'giraffe pose'. Laugh  Whatever works is the right way to do it, as long as it is comfortable for you and doesn't strain you.

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Laura Sprague
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September 12, 2021 - 12:14 am
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Module 25

Prone Back 2

Note: This week I worked on Modules 25, 26, and 27 on multiple clients, so I will be posting them in succession today.

Working with the spine is such important work; I appreciate your encouragement to really take the time to explore as much as I feel like I need, plus it clearly feels nice for the client.  

The upper trap technique is, for me, at a better angle than many trap techniques and everybody requests traps so I try to get to them in as many ways as I can.  I tried getting in there with my forearm too and that worked.  

The elbows on the far-side erectors works really well for me leverage-wise and I did not have to do my giraffe stance :).  I explored in there with my fingers first as you suggested and then when I leaned in with my elbows I asked my clients how it felt which was very good for most and one could use even more pressure.  She has a very strong back so I felt okay trying the knee techniques with her, although I was a little nervous at first.  When I got the hang of it she really liked it.  The forward rocking was the most natural one for me and I did not try the leg extension version yet. 

One person liked the elbows-on-erectors rolling so much that we went back to it a 3rd time in one session!

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Laura Sprague
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September 12, 2021 - 12:32 am
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Module 26

Prone Back 3 

I have some pain in my thumbs already at 54 and I'm glad you've created alternatives to the traditional techniques.  I felt like their forearm on my thigh was a comfortable position at first however when I leaned in with my forearm I'm not sure I ever got that angle just right so I'm going to play with that.  I was able to generate a feeling of "softness" in myself when I was doing it so it wasn't lacking benefit; it's just not flowing for me yet in that position.  When I got up higher, though, and put pillows under the shoulder and arm instead of my knee, then I could get leverage for the technique and then it seemed to feel very nice.  The walking and galloping on erectors feels easy and natural as long as I get up high enough.  

Elephant-walking either side of the spine while straddling hips is definitely one in which I must stand for an adequate lean-in feeling.

I worked on the squeeze/pull technique (where the North hand is squeezing the trap and the South hand is circling) multiple times and every single time my hands want to copy each other with their wonderful mirror neurons.  Even though I have heard you say that if a technique doesn't work for you, don't worry about it, I have highlighted this move for practice as it looks like it would feel so good! So I really want to get it.  

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September 12, 2021 - 1:04 am
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Module 27

Upper Back

Note: Here's the last of my 3-in-a-row, which I recall is not the way you want us to post.  I practiced a lot of massage this week, so that's the good news. Next week I will make the time to post as I go, and I hope you'll accept these entries.

I found myself shifting up and down a bit when doing the initial circles and kneading of the upper trap, trying to find my leverage between the 1/2 kneeling and my giraffe-type standing.  When getting up under the shoulder blade with the arm behind the back I was surprised at how hard this was for all 3 people I tried it on even though one of them is very flexible in general (she was surprised, herself, which just shows me why it is an important stretch to do).  After I saw that once I had each person put their own arm behind their back instead of me lifting it there. With the person who was surprised by her own tightness, when I palpated the inside of the blade and leaned back a little she really didn't feel much, which was yet another surprise to me because I assumed if it was tight going in to the position it would be tight in the area of focus.  This was the same person who wanted me to go back to the elbows-in-erectors just medial to the scapulae twice because she loved it so much, so that was interesting to me and told me more about her tension patterns, that it was more about her head position (erectors) that her shoulder rotation or something like that, which informs my personal training of the same client when we are looking for areas that need more strength.   

I was able to do the technique with their arm extended on my thigh very well and I adapted it to make it easier for me by sitting on their sacrums.  I don't know if that gets the arm high enough though; I didn't lift anyone's arm very high, i notice in retrospect, maybe because I wanted to avoid that over-stretch feeling I gave the one girl with the arm behind her back.  So I can ease into that one.  

I love cobra pose!  I was able to practice each of the three variations, and once again I found because of being short that the positions with my knees closer to their head gave me more leverage so even if they could stretch more I stuck with what I could do more effectively for the most part.  

The percussion at the end is hypnotic for me, too; it's one of my favorite parts to give and one of the first techniques I ever learned.  

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Shama Kern
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September 12, 2021 - 4:31 am
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Don't worry about posting 3 modules in a row. The whole purpose of the forum posting is that I can see, or rather read, that someone is actually practicing the course material, and that is very obviously the case with you. Your posts are excellent and in-depth. Smile

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Laura Sprague
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September 18, 2021 - 6:46 pm
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Module 28

Thank you for your feedback!  That helps to know I can post more than one.  :). 

Putting it all together is always the most fun, because it's where I feel both challenged and creative.  I will have to review your sequence a couple more times to encourage my flow, however for the most part it's going really well.  I found I was forgetting the moves with the legs at different angles (rather than just the pure prone leg) so once I watched your review I put those back in.  It is interesting which ones I forget and which ones I remember, because some of these leg-angled positions are the best for my clients (eg. the lateral calf technique with the legs in "#4" position - it's fantastic in many ways so why would I forget that one?).  I've started to write some of my techniques on the big whiteboard I have in my studio; for now I feel like it doesn't pull from the ambiance because they all know I'm in a course of study and also I don't draw their attention to it. :). 

I try to hit this prone position in every single session if I can because people love it and it feels like that grounding of the organs into the earth is so healthy.  I also walk on some people's backs, which technique is spelled out in one of my books.  If you have any ideas about that please let me know!

The giraffe-stance leaning on the erectors still seems to work the best for me when going up the erectors on either side of the spine; it's a direct angle of force.  

One of my clients commented that she really liked the upper trap technique where I'm squatting facing "South" and using my leg to brace/push my lower arm.  It is easy for me too compared to some other trap techniques so this goes on my board.  

On to side-lying!  Yay!

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Laura Sprague
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September 18, 2021 - 7:09 pm
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Module 29 

Side position 1

I am learning what pillows/blankets/supports to have around so I don't have to go searching in the middle of a session.  Also since I work with many people who experience hypermobility in their joints especially at night (including myself), I have thought about the pillows supporting the body a lot and therefore encourage a very similar pillow set-up for my side-lying sleepers.  When I set myself up to sleep or coach a client on a healthier sleeping position for themselves, we go into the same position that we are starting our side-lying Thai massage techniques.  Therefore I love this lesson especially, because it validates what my body wants intuitively and what I teach as actually optimal and also because it automatically puts both me and the client in an instant state of super-relaxation.

The inner thigh palm press and the sitting on the inner thigh are both techniques that my friend Will taught me years ago, so I have felt the effectiveness of that bloodstop especially and I like it.  Like so many others though, I had totally forgotten about it!  Also I did not learn about the real soft slowness is required to get the most out of the exercise.  (Also I have been wondering if I just misremembered that his training was in Chicago because he might have done one of your courses, it seems!  Because of these familiar moves and the abdominal techniques.). Today when I sat on my client's leg after a 45 minute workout I could really feel her blood pulsing under me, so that was fun and interesting.  

I'm comfortable with the circles on the hip and I can get a good angle here up on my knees typically.  

I'm not so comfortable with the inner thigh and the hip flexor stretches, I think because they are awkward for me at this point.  I'm always concerned about hyperextending or twisting the knee so I fiddle around with it and grip it tight and just feel tense in general, not terribly so but still not relaxed.   I like the version where I bend their body around my body a little better.  I have another massage today where I'll practice the adductor stretch again while it's very fresh to see if it's a size-thing for me or if I just need to relax with it.  

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September 18, 2021 - 7:28 pm
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Module 30

Side position 2

These side-lying back moves are great for me!  The general feedback I'm getting from my clients is that the angles, especially of the erector press (with both hands and thumbs), are more optimal in this position, that the techniques feel both strong and effective, and it feels ergonomically supported and easy for me also.  So this lesson is one of my favorites.  Sometimes I get lost in exploration when I put my thumbs into the tiny spaces along the spine (this has happened more than once) because its fascinating to feel in there with my fingers and also the movement is quite hypnotic.  

The spine twist seemed too intense - I found myself holding back from leaning on the shoulder because it felt with each person that I might dislocate their shoulder - until I realized that my body angle was not optimal, that I was stretching the client not along a long straight diagonal but more pushing the hip away and pulling the shoulder toward me.  The correction makes all the difference in both comfort and efficacy!

I did try the playfully-undulating spine twist, and it worked out better than I'd hoped.  It is a nice thoracic mobilizer.  It would make more sense if I felt it though - I imagine it might feel like a water-bed rolling motion or like one of those massage chairs that rolls up your back.  I'm going to ask for more feedback when I try this next.  

I like it when, after experiencing this side-lying series even in an abbreviated fashion, clients have a hard time rousing themselves to turn over. Success!

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September 19, 2021 - 7:40 am
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I think there is no way to remember all the techniques without watching the videos several times. I have heard from so many students that they re-watched a video after a while, and they had either forgotten some techniques, or they had never grasped them the first time around. So watching the videos again after a few weeks or months is essential.

Regarding the training material being presented by other trainers - our online courses have been around for 12 years by now, and thousands of people have gone through them. Without a doubt, some Thai Massage teachers have picked up some of their techniques from our courses. That's a good thing. We all learn from each other. Smile

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Laura Sprague
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October 1, 2021 - 6:07 pm
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M31 Side position shoulder 

I'm a fan of the side position for both giving and receiving Thai massage.  The techniques presented are for the most part very intuitive; i love how the human hands fit so snuggly around the human shoulder, like we are designed to take care of each other.  I also like how in this particular series you warm the shoulder up with the circles and then later intensify that same pattern with more pressure.  

I did try to work with my fingers on the traps with each hand to see what I like better, and I found that I like to use each one for a while in an exploratory way.  

The built-in pec stretch is very nice and I can feel the stability within this position to keep the shoulder safe (I always protect my own shoulders from hyperextension in a massage or stretch so stability is something I personally appreciate).

Hand-behind-back position is harder than I would have expected for the people on whom I've tried it!  People I consider "flexible," just barely getting it there, which lets me know it is probably important for them.  I'm checking with them that we are not going too far.  I got the arm-leg leverage technique with the swivel!  It looked a little tough in the video and then it made perfect sense when I tried it.  

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Laura Sprague
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October 1, 2021 - 6:23 pm
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M32 Side position 3

Continuing with the scapula - all these techniques that address it on any side seem to be recipient favorites probably because of our digital culture.  Again I like the ones with more stability/firm joint hold with the movements, so the thumb and finger palpations around the edges of the blade feel good for me to deliver (confidence).  I have found myself staying in this pattern for longer than most because it feels stable and effective.  

The traction moves are a little harder for me just because most people are taller/longer, however I think by coming up higher into a 1/2 kneeling position I can get more leverage.   I'm not entirely comfortable pressing on the edge of the scapula while I traction the arm overhead, so I really want to find a partner who can try it on my shoulder so I can feel it.  I do like the armpit massage and the arms crossing is a great hack for more strength!  I have seen it only once before, applied to lateral skull and trapezius, supine.  :). 

The sandwich-rocking at the end is such a nice finisher!  I feel like I want to do that with each major transition somehow.  

On to seated positions!

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Laura Sprague
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October 1, 2021 - 6:55 pm
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M33 Sitting

My first Thai massage ended seated; that was the method my first massage partner did it so I know exactly what you mean about it not being relaxing to end that way!  I've thought about this and why in Thailand the tradition is to end seated, while North Americans like to end lying down, and this is a hypothesis:  it's not normalized into our days yet because North Americans don't like to move that much on a regular basis.  Here in the U.S., we binge on everything including exercise and health techniques, and this often means that it is not part of our every-day self-care, not something to which we become accustomed and not something with enough popular demand to even be affordable to the average person (stay with me, I think this makes sense).  Juxtapose this with a culture in which massage is normal, more financially-accessible, and a common part of health-care which is how I imagine it may be in Thailand, from what I've heard.  So a person in this (healthier/Thai) environment  who is getting massage more regularly would need to be able to move on with their day fully-energized, not sleeping the day away.  (I may decide to offer an "energizing" session that specifically ends in the seated position for lunch-hour clients only).  

I do like delivering Thai massage to a seated client because I practice it so much!  In fact, because I often offer personal training clients "a stretch or two" at the end of their sessions and because so many people choose the seated heart openers, I've practiced these type of stretches more than any others over the years.  It is easy for me now to find the soft spots for my knees and legs in their back to support them (I do a lot of these standing, too) or 1/2 kneeling with my knee-to-chest pushed against them on one side.  I'm really excited about these new techniques! The one with the head on the leg is so clever - I've been stumped on how to get that whole length of the neck into where the trap fibers change direction and i think this is the one!!!!!  Needs lots of practice though and again I really want to feel it.  I think I will keep some oil handy and use a few drops to not pull skin or tiny neck hairs. 

The heart-openers, as I mentioned above, are many of my clients' top choices for post-workout so the tips you gave which are totally new to me will take something that's already good and hopefully make it great!  In particular I'm thinking of the cue that the client's back should actually be inclined forward and the technique of moving the feet or knees down the back.  I'm not as comfortable with the twists yet so I'm going to practice this a lot.  

I'm glad I have the Foot Massage lessons in my queue because we're almost done here.  🙂

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Laura Sprague
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October 1, 2021 - 7:07 pm
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Quick side question (or two):

Do I need to write about the additional units as well after the sitting unit? Also, since I just thought about my Foot massage course, can I please get an extension for my certification on that? because I haven't started yet.  I imagine it will go quickly however i just looked at the table with all the courses and I only have 6 months total (i think I purchased the course 4 or 5 months ago at least because it was on sale).  Thanks!

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Laura Sprague
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October 26, 2021 - 12:58 am
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M34 - Sitting

With these sitting techniques, the hardest one for me to get was the supporting of my client's back with my knee while applying pressure with my elbow in their traps, mostly because of the angle.  I really like the trap technique where the client's head/face rest on my leg, although I have not remembered it correctly each time (upon first review of the notes I had the first client turn their head toward me instead of away and I worked on the nearer trap; the client reported it still felt good fortunately and I have now changed that).  Because my legs are shorter we had to use a pillow on my leg for this move with 2 of my people.  

The note about pushing the client's back forward for the heart openers has made this move so much better, especially on the grip where it feels like the elbows have more room on the one my clients tend to prefer, the one with the arms stretched out long.

Trying to slip in the sitting work somewhere in the middle of the stretch; usually I have a longer supine section, then a brief sideways for the shoulders, then sitting, then prone, then back to supine for the finish.  

This course has been really wonderful.  The details of each lesson are so helpful; the pace and amount of each lesson seems just about enough (like 3 big moves per lesson is what it seems).  Your comments are appreciated.  

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Laura Sprague
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October 26, 2021 - 1:16 am
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M35 - Client communication

For this lesson I still feel like I want a little cheatsheat or checklist because I tend to forget details like jewelry removal and bathroom location in the beginning.  The clients are getting used to the 1-10 scale, however I notice most of them need a little encouragement to actually use the scale; for instance if someone is holding their breath I might say, 'Hey, I notice that you might be holding your breath.  Is this stretch an 8?' 

I really like the term "applied yoga" as an introductory descriptor.  Also it's a powerful holistic message that we are working on energy flow at the cellular level, not just muscles, as it helps clients understand the need for relaxing and not trying to grit their teeth through a technique.  

With all these new techniques, I feel well-equipped to ask a client what their specific needs are on that day and to answer those needs even if they want 2 hours just on their hips and calves, for example, like if someone comes in with calves as the #1 tight spot then I will hit them in the supine position a few ways, prone, and sometimes side-lying.  The communication in the beginning establishes this emphasis.  

I communicate ahead of time now that the client may want to dress in layers, reminding them that they will get colder as they relax, and I also keep blankets out where the client can reach them if they get cold because sometimes people just won't speak up.  

Some of my clients are extra-chatty and this usually takes away from the relaxation benefit, so the extra communication in the beginning seems to kind of get that out of their system a bit as well as establishing rapport and exchanging information.  

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October 26, 2021 - 1:29 am
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Magic Touch Secrets - Pt 1

I'm not sure how to write about these, so I'm going to just write what I put in my notes.

1.  Good technique

2.  Good ergonomics (as therapist)

3.  Using body weight rather than muscle power

4.  Working with the entire body

5.  Sink into the muscles, like the feeling of going into a Tempurpedic mattress

6.  "Float" your hands to feel the client's energy and maintain energetic contact

7.  Feel softness, focus on softness.

8.  Breath into every move whenever possible.  Let your breathing flow and relax so the client will do the same.

9.  Work from the Hara; return to the Hara.  All energy lines start here.

10.  Use a Quantum Touch Breath, cycling the energy through your entire body through your hands.  

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October 26, 2021 - 2:39 am
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"Do I need to write about the additional units as well after the sitting unit?"  -  No, you are done with the posting for this course, and your certificate is on its way to your inbox.

"Also, since I just thought about my Foot massage course, can I please get an extension for my certification on that? because I haven't started yet.  I imagine it will go quickly however i just looked at the table with all the courses and I only have 6 months total (i think I purchased the course 4 or 5 months ago at least because it was on sale)."  -   The 6-month time frame only begins when you actually start the certification program for a particular course. Since you haven't started it yet, there is nothing to worry about.

I really enjoyed reading your progress reports. In my mind, I can totally see you working with the material, and it is obvious that you are serious about it and good with it! Smile

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