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Pamela Herrick's Complete Thai Massage Progress Report
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Pamela Herrick
New York, USA
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May 21, 2014 - 12:18 am
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Module 25

Thank goodness for knees! Without great knee techniques, I would have retired from massage a long time ago!

I now use my knees at least as much as my hands. And I love being able to have three points of contact with my client. It feels good to the client and, of course, makes the work rock solid by providing balance and support to me.

The rocking sideways technique using the knee on the low back in this video is a nice "maker of space" in a low back which is tight and locked. I very much like this one.

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Pamela Herrick
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May 21, 2014 - 10:12 pm
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Module 26

I like your horse galloping rhythm quite a lot. Changing up the pace and rhythm in a session settles down an over-active nervous system so well. Also, when the therapist is not in a static position, it is much less likely to experience repetitive strain injuries.

I am very impressed that you so carefully teach techniques to avoid thumb and wrist strain. I wince every time I see one of our Thai colleagues doing Royal massage and potentially destroying their own joints. Such a shame to teach damaging technique.

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Pamela Herrick
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May 21, 2014 - 10:51 pm
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Module 27

Tell me what you think of this, Shama. I have always felt that the various versions of assisted cobra position have this effect;

with therapist sitting on client's feet (client's knees bent to form a stool) as the least aggressive stretch, because the arc of stretch begins at the lower thigh of the client. Long arc, less strain.

with therapist's knees just below the sitz bones - moderately aggressive, because now the arc of the stretch has been shortened and therefore increases intensity a bit

with therapist seated on sacrum - most aggressive, because now the arc of the stretch is quite short and therefore focuses the ROM in the spine. Pinning the hips to the mat now shortens the arc of extension of the spine the most.

Hmm... food for thought. Thanks!

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Shama Kern
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May 22, 2014 - 12:54 am
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I am glad you like the wiggling and rocking as much as I do.

And you are right, the martial law does not seem to affect us directly here in Chiang Mai. They are trying to play it softly so far, but we will see how all this plays out. 

By the way, without being able to use my forearms, knees and feet I would have retired from massage a long time ago as well. I could have never done the work which I had been doing without those body parts. Kudos to Thai Massage!

Talking about Royal massage - I can't believe that this is touted as something special and taught in some schools. It is the most ridiculous way of doing massage - terrible ergonomics, a perfect thumb and wrist killer. I totally agree with you on that one!

Regarding the cobra, you are spot on. The various positions change the intensity and arc of the stretch. I just never liked the sitting on the feet. It is difficult to turn this into a stable position and I have had enough therapists wobble around on my feet, making me feel quite unsettled in this move.

That's why I did not include it in my course. I don't like to teach positions which are potentially unstable. For example there is the move where you put the client's feet on your knees, wrap your hands around the legs and lift the whole body up. That's another one where I had lots of very wobbly experiences when getting a massage and I also skipped that one. 

There are other moves which I don't teach, like the one which Chuck Duff shows in his hands free course where you stand on the client with both feet while the client is in the side position. That's another really wobbly one. I prefer to have a solid position which can be easily controlled with good ergonomics. I gladly leave the fancy stuff to others. Thai Massage is challenging enough to learn well with all those techniques, and that's why I excluded a number of those potentially wobbly techniques that most of my students would have a hard time with. So that's my take on it.

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Pamela Herrick
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May 23, 2014 - 3:40 am
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Module 27

I completely agree about not using wobbly techniques. I never use any of the three you mention in your last post. Never. One of the things I love about Thai massage is that the client can fully relax on a firm supportive floor, no massage table to wiggle around on, no sheets to get tangled up in. My work is also very slow and stabilized. Acupressure requires that.

I do hope you and your family are not adversely effected by the state of affairs in Thailand. You are smart to use a server in the US. At least most of your work can continue.

As to sitting on the client, this one always makes me smile. For the first year that I practiced Thai massage (practice only!), I had a dear friend who kindly let me work on them every week. I sat on this poor man's leg for the better part of a year, and then one day he said, "Wow, that doesn't hurt anymore." Apparently it had been so hugely painful that he dreaded it each time, but never told me. Luckily, I finally got it right! 

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Pamela Herrick
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May 23, 2014 - 4:28 am
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Module 30

One of the things I am particularly enjoying about the video series is that you take time with each technique. I think that even a new student will not be overwhelmed by too much material in each session. Very thorough. Really nice approach.

Ah, your rocking spinal twist is lovely! Long ago, I "segmented" the spine to make a series of smaller twists while using my palm as a firm post. Yours is more dynamic, and I like it a lot.

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Pamela Herrick
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May 23, 2014 - 11:50 pm
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Module 31

Looks like I miss-numbered my module comments. Sorry for that. 

Can't quite tell if your internet is down or not. I see some of my Thai friends active of Facebook, but I know it could be spotty for you for a bit.

Ah, the tricky shoulder! I often think of it as not fully evolved, so heavily laced with tendon and ligament and so easily injured. You know the TCM diagnosis "40-year-old shoulder"? So true.

I use the side-lying position a great deal in my practice just as you say, because the shoulder can be so fully mobilized in this position. I do love seeing you carry the theme of your work, your style, through all of these positions. The rolling of the shoulder techniques are very good for releasing small adhesions under and around the scapulae, and of course, benefit the neck.

Also interesting that you do all of these techniques with the client's elbow bent. I agree and do much of my shoulder work with elbow bent, only ending with a straight arm "nerve stretch" which our Thai friends love so much. And this not on all people. Older shoulders, elbows and wrists do not love that nerve stretching.

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Pamela Herrick
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May 24, 2014 - 12:18 am
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Module 32

These days it is my toes that I use for releasing the scapulae, unless I have a quite small client with an open shoulder.

You remind me in this video of the option to lunge over the client for a lifting effect under the scapulae. Nice. I haven't thought of that method in awhile. So good to be reminded.

I also spend a good bit of time in the neighborhood of teres minor for most clients. So nice to see your kneading work in this area. A very gentle approach compared to some of the Thai massage options for this part of the shoulder.

Crossing arms to do the palm press is a great idea. Nice small traction away from the point of tension. Love it! Supporting the arm with your lunge is also brilliantly simple.

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Shama Kern
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May 26, 2014 - 12:04 am
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I am so glad that despite your experience with Thai Massage you still find all those nuggets in my course. It just shows that we can all learn something from each other, no matter how experienced we are.

My internet connection has not been disrupted here in Chiang Mai, however everything is strictly censored since the coup to prevent any agitation. For me life pretty much goes on as usual. I hope it will stay this way. Lots of thing can still happen here in the new environment. However so far the new military junta seems to be serious about addressing the most pressing problems here in Thailand. So far so good...

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Pamela Herrick
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May 28, 2014 - 12:13 am
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Module 33

Glad to hear that Chiang Mai is quiet. Seems the post due payments to farmers has lifted the Thai spirits a bit.

I agree about ending a session in the seated position. With many clients, I will never have them seated. Others work toward a short time seated. In this case, I use the seated stretches which allow the greatest articulation of the rib cage. Those gorgeous lateral stretches which "fan out" the ribs are so enlivening, if properly supported.

For me, articulating the spine seated is easier on my body than those big side-lying or prone spinal articulations with therapist holding client's leg in the air. Just a personal preference.

I do, however, give "homework" to my clients who cannot sit comfortably on the floor. I show them how to sit on a cushion and bolster their knees slightly to allow them to relax into the position. I usually recommend that they do it daily when they are doing some task which they do every day, such as opening the mail or watching a favorite tv program (meditation even better!!). 

One smart client, years ago, did it in a warm bath which helped her tremendously.

The wiggling technique with your feet on the client's back is just great. Really great!

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Pamela Herrick
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May 28, 2014 - 12:40 am
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Module 34

Resting the client's head on the thigh is such a beautifully supported way to treat the neck while gently mobilizing the cervical vertebrae.

So many clients have expressed to me their fear of the kind of "dry" cervical adjustments they have received with chiropractic care. This method of full support helps clients relax and receive good neck treatment without tensing. I use this work often. (and saves the hands!)

Interested to know specifically why you place the opposite arm over your thigh with this technique? I use this posture to access treatment points in the shoulder and arms but don't use it for this neck work. I can see that it is more stabilizing for the client and relaxing. Other reasons? Thanks!

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Pamela Herrick
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May 28, 2014 - 1:10 am
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Module 35

I am so happy to see you include client communication in your training program. It is so often left to the therapist to find their own way in creating a balanced therapeutic relationship.

I also like that you use an 8 as your edge with clients, rather than somewhere near 5. It lets clients know that sensation is beneficial and pain is avoidable, and that the power over the session is in the hands of the client.

And by checking in with the client to reassess it so clearly demonstrates to the client that treatment is effecting change. Such a great method for teaching a new client about the potential of this work. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. It is beautifully organized, paced and executed. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and your point of view with me!

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Shama Kern
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May 29, 2014 - 10:14 pm
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I have used the "homework" assignments for clients as well with good success in various forms. It is a good extension of our sessions to enable our clients to help themselves.

Why do I place the opposite arm over my thigh? Just like you said, it provides better stability, no other reason.

I am glad you appreciated the communications module. It really is an essential part of good Thai Massage.

And congratulations for completing this course! Smile

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