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My progress report (Thai Healing Massage course)
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Alessandro
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March 25, 2012 - 8:19 pm
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Hi everyone! This is intended to be my progress report, so I'll post here regularly. Let's start!

 

Module #1: Introduction

Nice introduction. The principles introduced and the different positions are, not surprisingly, also found in shiatsu practice. I mainly use the squatting position to treat the shoulders in side position and behind the person's head. Looking at thai massage videos on the web, I suppose it's particularly used to treat the feet.

 

Module #2: Basic Principles & Chi Machine

It's a very interesting move. If I have understood correctly, it has an invigorating effect on the person. To this end, I wonder if there are cases in which it would produce limited effects, for example, on a well fit, yang person. Would it make sense to do it anyway?

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Shama
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March 25, 2012 - 9:38 pm
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Alessandro, the Chi Machine is designed to get Chi energy moving in the entire body. The client notices a very pleasant tingling throughout the body, and I generally tell them that this is their Chi energy moving.

Second, the Chi machine movement, if done correctly, relaxes the entire body from head to toes.

It is a very nice introduction to a massage since most people have never felt anything like this. It also builds instant credibility in you as a therapist. So it goes way past an invigorating effect.

You can do it on anyone, except for two scenarios:

1. Persons whose legs are too heavy

2. Persons whose knees are hanging through, i.e. they have hyper mobility issues.

As you will find out, the squatting position in Thai Massage is used in many positions.

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March 25, 2012 - 9:48 pm
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Thank you for the further explanation.

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Alessandro
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March 31, 2012 - 2:32 pm
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Module #3: Foot massage 1

First move (sideways rocking on the feet); it's just a detail, but I have found out that I have to bend my fingers on the feet because if I keep them straight they can hinder the movement (I’m a bit over one metre ninety and the size of my partner's feet doesn't help either XD). Anyway, it doesn't feel right to me.

Second move (like before but with circolar rocking); it's been a bit tricky at first, but I think I have figured it out. I'll keep practicing.

Third move (stretching the feet inwards); I have to be careful with this one and not exaggerate. A gradual increase in stretching could be useful to test joints condiction.

Sixth move (foot/leg compression and tractioning); I like the fluidity of this move. I wonder if it can also be done in a clockwise direction. Also, is it safe to treat people with lumbar problems like tight vertrebae (I'm referring to the compression part of the move)? Just to be 110% sure.

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Shama
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March 31, 2012 - 8:56 pm
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You just wrap your hand around the foot, and adjust your hand position until it feels comfortable. The fingers cannot be straight for 2 reasons:

1. they would get in the way and hit the mat, especially if you have big hands
2. keeping them straight causes tension in your hand

You lean on the foot with the heel of your hand so that you don't have to bend your wrist a lot. This should feel very easy and natural. Play with it and find a hand position that feels right to you. This is a gentle and easy move. If it does not feel right to you, you are not putting your hands in the right place in the right way. Just shift your hand around until it does feel right. The less angle you have in your wrist, the better it will be. In other words try to bend your wrist as little as possible.

Regarding the third move, you always have to careful with any stretch, especially if you are a big person. The secret is to develop so much sensitivity that you automatically know how far you can go. This comes with practice. Always err on the light side.

Regarding the traction/compression move: You can definitely do it in both directions. The compression will not harm the lumbar spine any more than the natural compression of walking upright is doing. Nothing to worry about in this respect.

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April 4, 2012 - 1:35 pm
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Module #4: Foot massage 2

Nice set of foot techniques here. They are all very nice to perform. I've appreciated the distinction between the conceptual and mechanical thinking. It's a good way to prevent you from stopping in the middle of a session and think about your next move Laugh.

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Shama
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April 5, 2012 - 1:49 pm
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You know, I have seen so many students in the Thai Massage schools here stare at their notebooks in class to figure out what move comes next, and the conceptual thinking eliminates that. Anyway, it is better to forget or skip one move and stay in the flow than trying to follow a sequence perfectly but be stuck in a mechanical mindset.

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Alessandro
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April 5, 2012 - 2:46 pm
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I know what you're talking about Laugh. I couldn't agree with you more.

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April 7, 2012 - 2:55 pm
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Module #5: Leg Warmup 1

It's definitely a new and more dynamic way to treat legs for me. Indeed, there are different factors to consider when performing the techniques on the lateral aspects of the legs. The "leaning in" factor here is essential for the success of the technique. Well, I imagine that’s nothing new :). I worked on them for a while, but I focused mainly on the "push-pull" technique. It required a little extra work in the coordination department :). The "elephant walk" is a powerful technique, but also a rewarding one. The correct position of the hands here, I venture to say that is fundamental :). Also, I like the inclusion of our feet/knees in the techniques to stabilize the thigh/leg. As for using the pillow to support the knees, can its use be always advisable?

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Shama
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April 7, 2012 - 3:31 pm
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Actually I don't use the support pillow that much, but that's probably because I rarely have very stiff clients. It really depends on your clientele. Also I have trained myself to even work on stiff clients without a pillow without causing any discomfort. But I know therapists who use the pillow on almost everyone. It is a matter of your personal style, what works best for you and what feels easiest. 

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April 10, 2012 - 4:24 pm
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Module #6: Leg Warmup 2 (with forearms)

Working with the forearms is the part I've enjoyed the most. I like the way the entire leg is covered. There is no side that can't be worked on. It's a very effective and complete sequence. The only part that I find a bit triky is the rocking technique. I easily lose the pace sometimes. If I had a real client I wouldn't feel at ease doing it. I need more practice, I guess.

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Shama
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April 10, 2012 - 11:57 pm
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Yes, the forearm technique works great and is easy to do. Regarding the rocking - once you get it, you can use it on all parts of the body and you will love it. It is a very different technique from leaning or putting pressure on the body. It flows like a tai chi sequence or a dance and it is actually quite easy to do once you get the hang of it. Keep practicing and get a lot of feedback from your partner until it feels natural and flowing to you and your partner.

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April 12, 2012 - 4:51 pm
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Module #7: Leg stretches 1

I've appreciated your suggestions for the evaluation of the hips. I hope you will come back on the subject in the future. This first group of leg stretches has produced good sensations in both me and my partner. I've tried to balance my strength more this time and all in all I think that the resulting outcome has been positive. In regard to the stretch where we use our legs, I wonder what is it particularly indicated for? The last technique is my favorite one; it's a great way to loosen up the hips. The circular motion is the perfect add-on for it.

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April 18, 2012 - 1:38 pm
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Modules #8-9: Leg stretches 2-3

The content is getting richer. The calf techniques are very easy to perform; I love the additional techniques. Moreover, the work on the knee it's been a novelty for me. The stretchings on the thigh offer several variations, but the most interesting parts are the therapeutic indications and the integration of the rocking techniques. They are not only easy to do, but also a valid tool to ease muscle tension. Apply a rocking motion in such a way is something new for me. This is true for both modules. There are also some serious stretches here, module 9 in particular. My partner is not that flexible, but I have to say that I have tried ALL the stretches :). So, for now, I think I will focus mainly on the light versions of the stretches. My favorites techniques: thigh stretch with the circular motion and the spinal twist.

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Shama
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April 20, 2012 - 12:27 am
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Yes, the rocking techniques are often what can take the edge off strong stretches and make them more pleasant. But the thing that I really like about the rocking is that it works on more than just one particular area of the body. Many times other areas of the body will be moved by rocking techniques as well and sometimes even the entire body. That makes this a highly useful technique. I use it all the time in my sessions. I found it so effective that I even created an entire course just for rocking techniques. This develops the concept even further.

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April 23, 2012 - 9:34 pm
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Module #10: Leg stretches 4

Some new techniques here with strong variations; some of them were too much for my partner; I did them anyway, but applying much less emphasis. I expect to repeat them in the future. As for the blood stopping technique, I had already read something about it, but I have to say I'm not a fan. I didn't apply it on my partner though.

 

Module #11: Summary

Nice recap :). I was looking forward to it. I like your approach as always. The key here is not the mechanical learning, of course, but our ability in connecting the techniques in a flowing way.

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Shama
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April 23, 2012 - 11:30 pm
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You are right, you don't have to do all of the techniques. You just do what feels right and natural for you. I present all those techniques as options to choose from, not as a mandatory sequence for every session. We all come up with our own styles and preferences.

Regarding the blood stop, this actually takes a lot of sensitivity in the hands. It only feels good if you sink in very slowly with a very soft touch, and you have to catch the exact spot. But you don't have to do it, I don't use it that much either. I have experienced a lot of blood stops here in Thailand that did not feel good and did not do much. But done right, this technique produces a very unique, warming, tingling feeling and it is quite good for the circulation and the energy flow.

For those reading this who are not familiar with the blood stop technique, I just want to clarify that the name sounds kind of scary. We are not stopping the blood flow, but just slow it down for a little while in order to generate an energy rush.

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April 30, 2012 - 2:16 pm
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Module #12 - 13: Hip Stretches 1-2

The work on the calves carries on with new techniques; there are new variations too, but I find the one where we use our abdomen to flex the feet to be the most elegant, moreover it fits nicely with the Chi machine. I like the work on the sacrum and the thighs flexion at different angles. They can be powerful stretches; in that case working with slow rotations first as shown in the module can be helpful. There are also two more extreme techniques where we literally sit on the person legs. Definitely not for every person. Ultimately, I think that this kind of work should be always considered since it can give good results with minor lower back problems. It becomes very important how to deal with the pain level of your client and definitely the pain scale system it's a nice working strategy that can result in a good outcome on the trust front. This is one of the many topics of module 13; working from the hara, the correct use of breath and posture are only some of the factors we have to be always aware of during our session. It wouldn't be a proper massage without them. The hip-pie also comes to a conclusion. It's an easy stretch and the last piece of the pie.

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Shama
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April 30, 2012 - 11:16 pm
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If I wanted to rephrase the essence of what you said: If Thai Massage is done in just a mechanical way, it is easy to brutalize people with it. That's why you need other skills besides the techniques to refine it, like the one-to-ten method, the hara focus, breath etc. It needs to be a real art, not just a sequence of moves.

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May 3, 2012 - 4:43 pm
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Module #14: Hip Rocking

Some great lower back stretches here. As always the rocking motion adds a new dimension to our work. They require some skill to really master them, but I think the results will be worth the efforts. It's also explained a neat way to cross over your partner's body. Now, that's a real challenge, mostly for my legs, though :). Sitting on one heel is not something I will be able to do any time soon :).

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