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Mark Foil Jr's Thai Back Massage Notes
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Mark Foil Jr
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May 7, 2020 - 2:54 pm
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That is very kind of you to say, thank you! I'm honored to have had you think that. If ever I had the chance to travel, Thailand is up there on my top 3 list for sure and teaching is certainly part of the next progression of my profession. That would be a really cool effort to be a part of.

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 7, 2020 - 4:51 pm
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Module 10

 

The value of this module is unprecedented. The techniques used while working in the groove are all great additions to our tool box but the philosophy of "softness" is what strikes a note for me. Often times in our Western teachings/learning, we are encouraged to force our way into results. Trigger Point, Cross Fiber, and Deep Tissue techniques are often viewed as getting tight tissue fibers to submit to our efforts and to relax. The "softness" approach/mindset shows the exact opposite and demonstrates that our bodies do not wish to remain in a constant state of disease. The body does not always have to be strongly encouraged or forced into relaxation, in fact it can gently be reminded how to regain its calm and natural state through rocking and less abrasive broad pressure techniques.

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Shama Kern
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May 7, 2020 - 11:13 pm
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There are many ways of working in a holistic way - thinking softness, breathing with certain moves, sinking in vs pressing, allowing body weight to apply pressure instead of muscle effort, focusing on one's energy center (hara), and perceiving and sensing with our fingers instead of just pressing with them. These are all elements of working with clients, and not just on them. Those elements can make our work feel like a meditation.

Granted, first we have to learn and know the techniques before we can implement all these elements, but this is a preview of coming attractions. Smile

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 13, 2020 - 5:45 am
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Module 11 

Hear we find more techniques to assimilate into our sessions. Having seen these I have to wonder how often, in your experience, are adjustments or spinal manipulations that create sound(a crack or pop) the result of some of these techniques? In my experience, many have asked for me to "pop" their back which I am not comfortable in doing in a forceful manner. From time to time these "pops" do occur after gently easing into the muscles surrounding the back and some sort of traction or distraction techniques are used. However, they are never a goal in my practice.

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 13, 2020 - 3:05 pm
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Module 12

 

Piecing these techniques together is a joy. They flow seamlessly from one into another so well its easy to understand why its better to view these as a list of techniques rather than a set protocol or flow. The progression from the gentle to the power techniques helps us better understand how the spectrum can be used throughout the gamut of clients and its easy to see that you don't have to work your way through every last technique to get to the more power techniques. You can easily warm, rock, and segue more quickly into the deeper power techniques. I'm really looking forward to the next session on Moving the Spine and seeing how changing positions and incorporating stretches and movements of the client enhances the client's experience and our results.

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Shama Kern
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May 13, 2020 - 9:25 pm
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Some people 'pop' very easily. My wife is one of those types, whereas I don't 'pop' as easily. As you said, the cracking should not be a goal in your sessions. However there are some people who love being 'cracked'. I happen to know some techniques which are specifically meant to 'crack' or 'pop' the spine, and I have had clients who requested those cracks in every session.

I don't teach this in my courses because it is easy to injure someone if it is not done right. So we shouldn't aim for the cracks, but also we shouldn't be afraid of them.

Several of the spinal twist techniques which are taught in this course often lead to those 'pops. Typically clients like those and feel a relief from those 'pops'. There are a few people who can get a little nervous about them, but you can reassure them that this a harmless phenomenon (unless you try to force the cracks, and then it can lead to injury).

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 16, 2020 - 5:14 am
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Module 13

 

This summary of techniques demoed does help put all the pieces together into a more cohesive package. The back seems to become a much smaller area to work on as the techniques pile up. The different methods of increasing the energy flow and manipulating the muscle tissue are great for combining in a multitude of ways to cater to both the client's wants and their needs which may not always be the same. I've found that some clients who typically demand deep pressure right away can greatly benefit from the warming techniques that assist calming the mind allowing for the body to follow. Then the deeper power techniques may not need to be as aggressive. They are still beneficial and what the client is asking for but after softening the tissues before hand and relaxing their mind, much less effort is often needed to achieve the "deep" work they insist upon.

Additionally, the side lying position has become a favorite go to for clients experiencing low back pain. This position offers a unique access to the deeper and sometimes hard to reach hip flexors, Illio-psoas and from this position the body position alone allows for different muscles to relax in ways that prone and supine positioning does not allow for.

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Shama Kern
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May 16, 2020 - 7:29 pm
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For those clients who want strong work right away, you can still do the warm-up techniques, but just apply more pressure.

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 20, 2020 - 8:55 pm
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Module 14

 

I'm so glad to be working with the seven directions of spinal movement. Working with clients in all three dimensions has long been one of my main focal points in developing treatment plans. Even though our hinge joints do only move in one direction its due to the action of multiple muscles that pull from various angles and any of which can contribute to dysfunction or pain. So, but moving and approaching the shoulder for example, from multiple angles and positions a much more thorough treatment may be had with greater positive results. The spine is certainly no exception to this. Many people spend their careers working in a very restricted or limited position and as bodywork practitioners we have the honour of reintroducing their bodies to 3 dimensional movements to break up their stagnant lifestyle choices and remind them of how vitalizing moving can be.

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Shama Kern
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May 20, 2020 - 10:35 pm
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Thai Massage certainly does facilitate 3-dimensional movements more than most massage therapies. This also makes it more fun to practice. You can come up with so many useful moves and combinations. Smile

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 26, 2020 - 8:07 pm
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Module 15

This is where things start to get really fun. I've long been a huge advocate for the moving the body and encouraging mobility for my clients. These back stretches are a fantastic means to do so and I'm excited to share them with my clientele. My practice partners are already reaping the benefits and I feel like I'm gleaning some valuable experience with the different body types. 

My desk job/computer driven career clientele as well as my wife will get so much from these, though clear communication is a must to ensure safety and to prevent injury.  The spa, that I'm employed at opened back up last week and I've got clients waiting and eager to try these skills. In our tech driven society attempting to return to "business as usual" i'm sure that those who binge watched Netflix for the past few months as well as worked from home will need as much mobilizing of their spine as possible. I can't wait to see whats next and see what kind of stretches and mobility can be achieved in other positioned.

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Shama Kern
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May 27, 2020 - 1:12 am
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I am sure you are right about all those locked down and house-confined people needing not only good body work but body work that moves them and expands their range of motion. You should be in a great position to provide that. Smile

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Mark Foil Jr
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May 27, 2020 - 6:17 pm
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Module 16

 

I'm grateful to have such a scale or progression of stretches throughout the back. These allow for a repore to be developed with new clients and newcomers to Thai massage the ability to progress through many sessions. Additionally, if for any reason a more advanced client has a set back from injury or extended time of sedentary lifestyle the sessions can adapt to accommodate recurring/returning tightness. Shama has mentioned this time and again, but these skills/tools/techniques are not a protocol with a definitive order or set flow and can be adjusted, omitted, and tailored to each individual client for their constantly varying needs. I'm Loving this work!

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