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Merri Lou Dobler Thai Massage Back Therapy
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Merri Lou Dobler
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April 12, 2022 - 5:18 am
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Module 1.  Thai Massage Back Therapy!  I am super excited about this course. I reviewed the descriptions of the modules and can see the in-depth material that will be covered. It is going to be a lot of learning and application, and will carry over to my (very few, currently) massage therapy clients and to my two senior women's yoga classes. Since I am in my 60's and female, the risk of issues for back problems, which also includes sciolosis, are high, and my own interest in this is huge as is my motivation.

I liked the many ways to determine possible back issues when someone walks into your office for an appointment, as well as physically assessing them and then discussing it with them. Thai massage lends itself very well to many techniques to work with the whole back, and this is what is exciting, to delve into so many aspects of back therapy, a holistic approach.

My first Back Therapy module and a continuation of learning in other modules!  Thanks Shama, am glad to be starting this course!

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Shama Kern
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April 12, 2022 - 8:29 pm
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Welcome back - that's going to be a big one with tons of material. However with all the courses that you took already it will be easy for you.

No doubt, back work is so important, especially when we get older. I am in my sixties as well, and by necessity spend lots of time in front of the computer. If I don't do my back exercises, I feel it quickly. 

This course has so much more information and material than is typically taught in Thai Massage schools - you will see! Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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April 14, 2022 - 8:44 am
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Module 2.  I like being a beginner because I'm open to the information given in a way that is different from feeling I know a lot. You can tune out when you think you've heard it before, but you pay attention when it is new so you don't miss a thing.  I appreciated how this module came together with the big picture about Thai massage as it relates to the back, and specifically back therapy.  There are so many reasons why people have back problems. There are also many ways that Thai massage can address these problems and, at the end of this module, all the ways that Thai massage can help a person find their way to who they really are. That was a big take-away, that Thai massage can help with feeling brightness and lightness, peacefulness and hopefulness.   I know how my daughter feels after I work with her; she gets up, turns to me and says, "I liked that!" Her face shows it, her body is more relaxed, and I know that she feels so much better. 

But it is not just the client who feels good. I feel really good too. I focus on breathing. I get into the rhythm with her breathing, with movement and rocking and using body mechanics to finish up a session feeling I liked it too.  All of that came back as I heard Shama describe all the ways Thai Massage can help someone. Had I heard all of these before? Well, probably, but not quite in this way and maybe I'm more ready to hear them now for my own wholeness and well-being.  It's like these points about Thai massage can be integrated with back therapy and I will see how this happens during these weeks; the brightness and lightness, peacefulness and hopefulness.

The review of the different sections of the spine, including the coccyx, also revealed how our body depends on the spine for balance and movement and action and relaxation and purpose.  The joints and muscles and nerves, all working together with the spine, with the whole back, with the body, can lead us to great healing.

I really enjoyed this approach and the many interesting facets-yes, facets- that will be explored as this Thai Massage Back Therapy unfolds.  Thanks so much Shama!

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Shama Kern
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April 15, 2022 - 8:57 am
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You described very well why Thai Massage is a holistic healing art. It helps the body and the mind of the client and the therapist, it addresses the whole person and not just a symptom. We can't always 'fix' a specific symptom and make it disappear, but we can always help the client in some way.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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April 16, 2022 - 7:38 am
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Module 3.  You really are laying the foundation with these first few modules, and  this one especially set up a way to bring the parts together.  That was good for my brain, to see the organization of this big section, big and important!  You have to know about the parts of the spine mainly addressed.  Then there are the common problems and issues that people want addressed. I thought the first part of this module, emphasized with a quiz question , brought home the point of helping with tight muscles, like the pec muscles, and how the collapsed posture can be worked with, but if you have really weak muscles that you can't do much about them. It sounds so basic but I needed to hear this to remind myself what exactly I can do for somebody.  I can help in certain ways, such as relaxation and then stretching, but strength work comes from elsewhere.

The conversation with people who have back problems is helping them possibly find their way to a lifestyle factor that could be explored, and the intake form can help with this. As you point out, there are a lot of techniques and tools that we can use in Thai Massage for the back, to address these issues, and our assessment can help us narrow which techniques and tools to use, depending on things such as the body size, history of injuries, etc.

This was really good and I'm glad I focused on it, for I sat with it a while afterwards. Just really good modules, Shama!

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Shama Kern
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April 16, 2022 - 7:22 pm
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That's the difference between the back work in the Complete Thai Massage course and the Thai Massage Back Therapy course. The latter goes much more into detail, it explains the 'why', it ties it into the anatomy, and it puts it into a therapeutic context.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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April 22, 2022 - 4:57 am
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Module 4. So much in these modules! This one was good for my daughter, for she likes rocking, she enjoyed the rhythm of the entire back work, and she noticed when the speed increased or the offset back and forth rocking was used. Rocking is easier to do than to apply linear pressure, and I also practiced shifting from one heel down/other knee bent to the opposite, to see which is more comfortable. Circling to work with  the back, finding spots of "thickness"  on her back, and being cautious when getting close to the spine were balanced with the variable pressure.

The options with the hands made it more enjoyable for me, to shift from hands on top of each other, next to each other, then using just the palm/heel of the hands, and it felt good. I was aware of the skin stretching issue and I liked the challenge of the offset rocking, because it took a minute to get the right rhythm back after moving up or down. And you added the technique to the sacrum, which was okay for my daughter.  Very nice!  I think in my review later on, this is one module I'll come back to, because there are so many variations. I'd like to practice using them all, esp getting comfortable with technique # 5. The directions are clear and easy to follow and I like that you stop and make good points by looking at the camera to emphasize points.  Thanks Shama!

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Shama Kern
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April 22, 2022 - 7:26 am
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"Rocking is easier to do than to apply linear pressure."  -  For sure, much easier for you, and often more pleasant for the client. Plus no risk of hurting anyone.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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April 29, 2022 - 4:55 am
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Module 5.  The sacrum is fascinating to work with. So, this morning I was teaching yoga and I went over the sacrum and demonstrated how to find theirs, starting at lumbar vertebrae, circling down, finding the corner edges and across the top. They were good sports and they understand the importance of taking care of their spine.

I don't remember hearing that the sacrum has 5 nerves; pieces come together so well in these different courses and they add a dimension that helps me understand anatomy and to apply it to Thai Massage techniques. So woo hoo! My daughter was okay with this module, which I started with some feet work and then did rocking on her back until she literally relaxed. It can be like every muscle lets go at the same time.

The emphasis on being careful with thumb work, not only for myself but to keep from the feeling of being pokey for clients was good. The horse gallop rhythm is really cool and it helped to have the 1-2-3, taking the pressure off the "3".  I was itching to get more forearm or knuckles down on the sacrum but held back on this fascinating bone.  It has a lot of energy.  Circling was very good and, as usual, my daughter is super sensitive to fingers ,so the palm circling was very good, followed by the speeding up. She had tensed a little and the rocking with the speeding up settled her down again.

I had to find the edges of the sacrum more than once, but I slowed down and found the up and down pace was soothing and it got me back into a good rhythm too. You can never go wrong with using percussion at the end!  Thanks Shama.

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April 29, 2022 - 5:01 am
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"It can be like every muscle lets go at the same time."  -  Interesting observation! It fits in well with the holistic nature of Thai Massage.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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May 5, 2022 - 11:00 pm
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Module 6.  Wow, I missed some things this week including completing this module!  My daughter let me practice with her last Sunday and it is now Thursday! I feel I get more of a feel for the sacrum with every practice and that the angle of work makes a difference. I notice that the sacrum technique picks up which side of the sacrum moves easier, into one side of the ilium rather than the other ,for my daughter, and that the "space" is more accessible on one side. The variable movement of the hands is so beneficial for getting a good feel and then the faster rocking feels good. I avoided using the thumbs to avoid tickling my daughter.  Rocking is also a good place to conceptualize what is coming next  and to breathe into that awareness.

My daughter likes the light touch with rocking. I liked the next techniques with using the elbow and forearm. Body mechanics have to be paid attention to or you can a message pretty quick from your body that you need to refocus; it is not just the arms leaning in, but the whole body. My tendency is to go back and forth and to sometimes move more mental,and it really helps to give pause to bring all the pieces together again.

I practiced the transition several times with the video and two rolled up towels, and found it worked out with my daughter for one side to the other. The instruction was very helpful, the videos are the best, where to put the first knee, placement of the second knee and then coming up on that leg, sitting back. The shift over to the other side then doesn't feel complicated but makes sense.

We both breathed, the relaxation with a final rocking made for a good session. Thanks Shama!

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May 6, 2022 - 8:39 am
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"Body mechanics have to be paid attention to or you can get a message pretty quick from your body that you need to refocus."  - Without these good body mechanics you can wear yourself out quite easily. And when Thai Massage becomes a strain on you, it is neither fun for you nor will you be able to transmit healing energy.

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Merri Lou Dobler
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May 22, 2022 - 11:30 pm
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Module 7.  We are back, a short break was needed. So glad to be back in and on course again. I completed the first technique now 3 times along with the video and then once with my daughter last night. Really helpful to repeat the techniques. Transitioning becoming more comfortable and my daughter okay with the rocking, lean and push over. Having the leg aligned with her body makes a difference. Those are the tips that really help me.

The single knee with rocking was easier to do than with circling, and I switched to the left knee to see if it was easier, which it was.  I think I was extra slow and it was okay with my daughter.  I found I settled into it and could then synchronize with my daughter's rhythm and breathing. I missed this part!  She let me straddle for the both knees technique, my hands on the floor, and I found a difference in my hip flexibility when one knee moved easier and smoother than the other knee.  Then my daughter was done with this so I transitioned back to her side and did not do the maximum power technique, the flow nor the heel on the glutes. Instead, I did circling and wiggling with my hands for a gentle way of relaxing.

It always comes together so nicely in watching Shama do a mini-session for the glutes/sacrum, all benefiting the SI joint in getting movement, a good workout for relaxing the whole area.  Very good, thank you so much Shama!

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Merri Lou Dobler
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May 23, 2022 - 6:38 am
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Module 8. Well, looks like I got confused  here and did part of module 8 included in module 7.  I thought it was awfully familiar! So I went back to module 7 again and re-did it so I could get the sacrum work for the back completed. It was good to again get the message to use pressure to push over but then to release it back. This worked well with my daughter. And with the transition, it sank in to my brain to lean forward as you make the transition of lifting the leg, changing hands, move over. As I transitioned over, this is when I caught that I had let go of breathing with my daughter so I spent the time getting back in sync with her. The forearm technique, emphasizing moving to soft muscle and staying off bone, had the instruction of my palm moving up instead of palm down so to avoid bone on bone.  Rolling the forearm on the glutes got easier with practice. There are lots of muscles associated with the glutes and you can feel the release with the forearm.

The technique of rocking the sacrum is one that I really found beneficial, for you can rock with one hand and go down the side, and then you can use the thumb on that side, which is now loosened up and can help with any tightness. I practiced this with both hands.

The three knee techniques in Module 8 were for bigger people and I could do the first one, of the knee on the glutes going side to side, gentle movement. Then I moved to the knee going sideways, with one knee again working and also sitting back on the other toes. Back and forth seemed to move to circling pretty smoothly. My daughter let me straddle her with my feet on both sides but she did not want my knees on her glutes. What a cool technique though, moving in two directions, supporting with hands on the side. Yes, tricky! I remembered the 45 degree benefit to find the glutes when on her side and I was able to reach over and get a hold of her hip with my knee pressed up against her. It would have been a lot to pull up for her, but I got a sense of how strong this technique in.  Then I positioned for the heel on the glutes, rocking was so good.

It was good for me to do this set and to see how it helps the body and how strong the back and glutes are. Thanks Shama!

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May 23, 2022 - 7:09 am
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Welcome back. I was just wondering where you were yesterday. Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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May 23, 2022 - 7:37 am
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Hi Shama,    My email mustn't have gotten through to you! Things got tough for us, as it does for everyone, and my daughter and I pulled back to take a break from several things. We let things settle in until we both felt we were good again. Sorry that my email didn't get through to you! I did see a different Thai Massage therapist last Friday and she recognized your name from being on Social Media somewhere. Fun session and the experience of different techniques. It pulled me back up.

My daughter got ticklish almost right away with Module 7 and Module 8, the combination that flowed for me. When her sacrum had her laughing, I switched to standing up and put my heel in her hip, next to sacrum, and then moved it down to her glutes, which relaxed her.

Am so happy to be back!  Many thanks for this great Back course!

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Shama Kern
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May 24, 2022 - 3:02 am
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You are right, I never saw your email. Anyway, no big deal. A two-week break is nothing. Some students take a 6-month or even a one-year break...

I am glad that things are worked out again at your end. Smile

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Merri Lou Dobler
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May 25, 2022 - 5:38 am
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Module 9.  I had not heard the "knife edge" term for the erector's, but the sensitivity of fingertips would get these right away. Knots and crunchy, yes to those! In working with my daughter and finding the groove, her back is so solid that I'm often being cautious to stay in the groove and to use the erectors as a starting point to slide down to the groove and feel the distance of the groove as I move along the back. I seem to slip off and then relocate the spot, just my daughter's unique back and spine.  Then I discovered that if I stayed longer with the rocking, both hands rocking, allowing for the relaxation, that it becomes easier to find the erectors, find the groove.

She enjoyed the rocking on the near side, as always, with care to use just the heel of the one hand rocking and to keep the fingers up. No tickling today and the moving hand was a very nice rhythm.  This was a really cool technique and is one I enjoyed. My ease at getting up to a squat on toes is easier. A bit of ticklish feeling for my daughter with a hand on the sacrum meant an adaptation to that hand more on the lower back. The beats of counting 1-2-3-1 or the two's, was really cool! You can bring so much into the work with a good rhythm and this was really unique to me as a way to bring more to a Thai Back massage.

To finish with the forearm rolling on the lower back and rolling around was very good for some of the muscles. Again I found that if I stayed with it for even 10-15 seconds longer that I could get in deeper and feel the softening of tissues. One side was holding on longer than the other. Then both arms and circling with hands.  Really good for my daughter and a deeper relaxation for her.

Thanks for all your comments not only to my Thai Massage work but to all other students, Shama!

'

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May 25, 2022 - 7:29 am
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It's interesting, I think you are the only course student who ever mentioned that you read and appreciate my comments on other student's threads. Thanks for that!

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Merri Lou Dobler
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May 27, 2022 - 8:54 am
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Module 10.  There's a lot to learn from other students, and since there are always challenges with a new technique, it helps to read how a student is figuring something out to make it work for them. When I can picture it in my mind from a description, and then your response, it makes it more real for me.  There's a lot of value in taking the time to see how someone else is doing with their Thai massage.

I enjoyed doing the back work with my daughter, who had audible sighs here and there; she really needed some relaxation. She enjoyed settling in prone with a small pillow for her head, lying on her Thai massage blanket, as we call it, and a good response all around. I value the set up that is described initially, seeing that the extra minute or two of intention, breathing, feel and softness, which can be periodically forgotten during the work on the back (!) , results in a quicker return to bringing it all together again. It's a really good way to approach the back work, because the back encompasses a big area. "Move energy instead of body parts" is good advice.  I liked the distinction of what works with the low back and then middle back, then being careful with the upper back.

For my daughter, since her back is quite solid and I can move off the groove if she is a little tight, I tried the technique of using the heel of a hand with the other hand on top and did this for a while with going back and forth, then rocking, then circling on the upper back. I moved down to the lower back and could get more easily into the groove with both elbows. My goal was to practice sinking in and to vary the pressure of rolling down and releasing. I moved to the  middle back when she said "okay mom", and did the rocking with the double elbow, really cool for me. Sitting parallel wasn't as comfortable for me initially until I slowed down my pace and corrected the angle of my elbow better. And then my daughter was done, which felt complete with what we could do, working together and helping her relax. Thanks Shama!

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