I usually use a rolled up towel for my clients that have a collapsed back and not capable of getting their shoulders down but I will use the towels folded to raise it slightly. Shama, did you make the covered foam piece or did you purchase it from somewhere online?
I have a number of clients that have pacemakers in their shoulder so I will need to check in with these clients to see if the shoulder technique gives them any discomfort. I think it would be best to do this at the beginning of the massage so that they are not in too tranquil of a state at the end to actively participate in vocalizing their comfort/discomfort.
I'm also put in my notes what table height works best for my 100 lb vs. 180 lb clients. I still have not been able to sit in a chair do this technique. Any suggestions?
One of the things that I initially noticed is how anxious I was working around the sternum. One of things that helped was the synchronization of the breath with my client which allowed me to focus on my own breath and to slow down my lean in, out breath, release, in breath combination. Almost like a mantra to me.
I used this method yesterday on one of my Intellectually/Developmentally Disabled (IDD) clients. Because his hospital bed is up against the wall and his bed in the corner of the room, I wasn't able to have a 90 degree angle but I initially looked for the rise and fall of his stomach and worked gently between his ribs. Reaching across the bed to the opposite side was a little more challenging but he had his eyes closed and seemed to melt into my touch.
Today I used the double hand circles on one of my IDD clients. He usually does not like for me to touch him above the waist so I was delighted when he was receptive to this and I was able to work in this area.
I used the elephant walk this afternoon on a female client who spends a lot time on the computer. She told me that she felt like this really opened up her chest and gave more room to breathe.
I usually start my clients face down but with the four warm up techniques I am going to start face up especially if they complain about range of motion problems in the neck. The rolling, circling, offset circling and pulling right and left will help me assess where they are issues plus I will be able to move the next side to side and lift it forward toward the chest to see where their limitations are. Shama, to protect the back any suggestions where to position your arms for support? Also, I have a couple of clients with really heavy heads, any suggestions for easing my back strain?
Hi Linda, welcome to our community and the Heavenly Head Massage certification program.
I have not received the certification enrollment form from you yet. Could you please make sure to fill that out and send it in. The link is in the certification section of your course manual.
Regarding your question about the covered foam piece - those massage props are easy to come by here in Thailand since I live in the "center of the universe for Thai Massage".
Regarding the pacemakers - if you find that there is any discomfort, just skip those techniques. You don't have to look at the techniques as a rigid sequence, but rather as options to choose from.
For me it works best if the table is quite low, a little above knee height. For most techniques in this course you can stay seated, but for some you need to stand up to get your ergonomics right. I am not sure which technique you were referring to in your question. Can you clarify?
Regarding your client "melting into your touch" - beautiful - that's exactly what we are trying to accomplish.
Regarding supporting your arms - there are two places where you can do that: Either on the table or on your thighs. The client's head has to be really close to the edge of the table, otherwise the arm support on your thighs does not work. That's also the reason why your thighs and the table have to be at about the same height. If the table is higher, you lose the option of using your thighs for forearm support.
Actually this is also a matter of how long or short your arms are. For example my arms are rather long, so I can work on the neck or head while supporting myself on my thighs. However if your forearms are quite short, this might not be as easy.
For really heavy heads there are two solutions. One is that you skip certain techniques - nothing wrong with that. The other one is the "towel method". There is an entire module about this later on in the course.
Make sure to support your arms as much as possible and work with your entire body whenever possible. The biggest cause of back strain is that people work only with their arms and are using only muscle power instead of working with their entire body with good support and good ergonomics.
I love this initial technique of getting the hair away from the neck. It is a much better method than what I have been using of when my client turns over on the table there an awkward, choppy movement of getting all the hair out of the way. With this technique, I can instantly relax my client while being very efficient .
I tried the lift neck without lifting the head off the neck but my client kept on "helping" me by raising her head, so I have to watching my positioning of my hands or tell my client that "you don't need to help and let your head just relax into my hands."
I tried the big neck roll on a long time client and it was very choppy and not smooth. I will have to continue to practice. I stand the whole time in my session, so I don't exactly know where to position my forearms for support.
The pull straight back went very smoothly and could tell by my client's verbal response of "mmmmm" that she enjoyed this technique. I really liked the technique where you hold up the head with both hands at a 45 degree angle and straighten the index, middle and ring fingers along the spine but I did have trouble keeping the head steady so I need to practice this more. It would seem that this would be easier if I was seated.
Even though the sideways neck stretch with head lift looks very relaxing I don't believe that I could efficiently use this technique because I am standing during my sessions. I have used the head lift toward the chest (though I have not lifted the shoulders) and moving the neck in a 360 circle oftentimes in my sessions with good results.
Most of my clients have very tight necks because of time spent in front of the computer and age, so when I move their neck sideways it doesn't lay flat and I have to support it. I really appreciate the reminder that the neck needs to be positioned at a 90 degree angle and not near the shoulder.
Clients "helping" with the massage is often an issue, especially during techniques which involve movement. I have had to tell clients many times that they don't need to and should not "help".
I don't quite understand why you stand up the whole time. Heavenly Head Massage is so easy to do while sitting down. If you do it all standing you lose a lot of the arm support which you can get when you are sitting. For some techniques you need to stand up, but why not make it easy on you for most of them?
As soon as my client turned over to his back, I used the sideways head wiggle to relax him and loosen his neck a bit. I then tried the sideways neck undulation with pretty good results checking in with him about his comfort zone. I initially was nervous so my hands were slightly over his ears but I lowered his head and repositioned them so they were not pressing. His neck is pretty tight so they were small figure 8’s but I believe that as he trusts me he will relax more into my hands and we will be able to accomplish more range of motion.
I took Shama’s suggestion about getting a chair to sit down while finishing my end of session massage so that my forearms are supported and steady. What I noticed with circling my thumb on the earlobe was when my thumb was on top it went very smoothly but when I tried the thumb below the earlobe it was choppy and not fluid. I’m curious why. When I tried the thumb inside the ear, I felt like I wasn’t giving a soothing movement but I thought afterward that if I slowed down then it would help. I tried the scissor move on several clients and they audibly replied with a “mmmmmm.” I always end my massage with the cupped hands over the ear and it gives a peaceful inward stillness.
It’s a new technique to head massage that I haven’t used is the strong movements to make the skin tingle. I am curious if it’s best to use it at the beginning or the end of your massage. Personally, when I get a massage this tends to move me out of my meditative state. Most clients like the circling and shampoo methods but I have been having a little trouble with my African American clients that have braids. I have been hesitant to use many head massage techniques but I have used more slow, moving the skin to create relaxation.
The stronger movements should not be so strong that they feel distracting or yanking someone out of their meditative state. They should still be gentle movements, but a bit stronger than the really gentle ones. All you do is create contrast. That's why I suggest to mix up the more gentle and the stronger moves. But if you do them too strong, then that would be distracting. So the moves are 'relatively strong' within the context of a gentle HHM.
I had a new 91 year old client, who was a neighbor, call me about back pain so I scheduled an appt and walked over to his house. After asking questions about his health, I asked him if he had a date that night. He asked “why?” I told him with a smile that I was going to mess his hair up because initially I was going to give him a head massage to get use to my touch and to relax him. He laughed
I used light jumping movement, then shampoo, then light fingertip rubbing, then shampoo, and then circular rubbing movement to mix things up. When I checked in with him, he told me that he might not let me go home because he wouldn’t want me to stop. So I took that as an affirmative response that he was enjoying it.
I asked my next door neighbor over to practice the face massage techniques and she readily said yes. Since I already knew her I didn’t have as much anxiousness than if it was a new client. It really helped to place my hands and thumbs on the face and third eye and hold it…since it gave me a moment to take a few deep breaths and I also asked her to also.
I have frequently started my face massage going up the nose bridge but never placing my fingers on the side of the face, they were up in the air. What a difference it made! I had never used the thumbs down the side of the nose bridge and it really went smoothly.
My biggest trepidation was the circle around the eyes but first I did a head hold with my fingers on the side of the head and took a couple of breaths before starting. It initially was a little choppy so I put some oil of my thumbs and it was much more fluid. I told her that I wanted to practice this a number of times since I wanted to feel confident.
I decided to try some of the face massage techniques on my 84 neighbor, who comes to my studio once a week. I had tried some of the head and neck massage techniques on him earlier, and it was kinda hit or miss because of his loose skin. What seem most successful (which create a mmmmm sound from my neighbor) was the circle of the temples, with the heel of the hand and the circle of the cheeks with the heel of the hands. I am guess that I was more grounded so it went smoothly. When I did the sinus line stroke, he opened his eyes, so I guessed I got too close to his nose, and somewhat impeded his breathing. Next time I will have to use less pressure and move over slightly.
It was synchronicity that a client from a couple of years ago who was interested in reiki and very spiritual came to see me. She had had a number of life changes with a new career and loss of a 40 year marriage so she was transitioning into new beginnings. In talking with her before the session began, she said that she wanted our session to be focused on healing and hope.
Because she wasn't a new client, there wasn't any anxiety but I still took a few moments to put some lavender essential oil in my hands, and rubbed my palms together and inhaled. That allowed me to slow down my breathing and become grounded with her intention in mind. Since she has vertigo her head was up on several pillows so the first hold under the neck was a bit awkward but I could do it but not with good body alignment. The other holds I took 5 long breaths and used the visualization of the energy stream which was very helpful. I really liked the slow pealing of the fingers off the head which reminded me again of slowing down.