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Patricia Crossley's Thai Shoulder Massage course notes
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Patricia Crossley
France
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November 21, 2021 - 5:06 pm
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Back for another great Thaï journey with you Shama.

Module 1

Energy has been a part of my Iife since my early childhood: noisy ghosts shared my room in Malaysia and my grandmother was a medium. As an adult I started helping horses, first with hand healing, then with micro current with the same herz level as cells (TENS is 1000 times stronger). Just changing the energy flow at fascia level saved three from being put down and got me working on team horses at the 2002 World Equestrian Games.  Next I trained in Reiki, took courses in energetics and shiatsu, added neuromuscular therapy and massage and focused on people.

For many years I worked in a very compartmentalised rather than holistic way: I would give neuromuscular therapy, or shiatsu, or a massage, or an energy session, etc. It took me a while to appreciate the multiple facets of energy and its permeability to so many factors at so many levels of the mind-body-spirit system. I started working more holistically, mixing methods more intuitively in a quest to optimise energy flow as well as resolve fascial, muscular and emotional issues. The more I progress down this path, the more I realise there is still so much to learn, but it gets me much better results and is so rewarding.

So your comments on the goals of therapy really hit home.

Re-establishing optimal energy flow is far from most bodyworkers’ and specialists’ mind in the West when you need treatment, yet it is such an important facet of healing! Whatever the specificities of our toolbox, we should include actions and intentions that bring sufficient physical, mental or emotional appeasement for the energy flow to normalise and work its magic, reactivating meridians, balancing chakras, reconnecting dissociated body parts and restoring that feel good to be alive sensation.

Part of your teaching gift Shama is that you say to us here is an array of techniques, now digest them and make your pick to work your way, the way that’s right for you and your client, thus prompting us to solicit our intuition - our Third Eye and Sixth Chakra – when we interact with our client. It’s another facet of your genuine desire to help us get out there and help others the best we can, for which I thank you.  

I face three challenges on this course: the sheer number of techniques to practice and assess; doing them on a massage table; and a lack of clients or acquaintances with shoulder problems. In fact only one: my gardener and he is really difficult to get hold of.

I practised the first three modules on a client with frequent cervical and rhomboid tension. She had been repainting ceilings at home and therefore felt some stiffness in her back, so I was able to trade a free back massage against her patient compliance while I consulted my laptop and worked things out on her! I did each technique on both sides.

Regarding the initial warm-up (four techniques), she enjoyed the elephant walking the most, as well as the sideways alternate rocking of the shoulders. The up and down rocking of the shoulders didn’t deliver much movement lower down her body.

Figure of 8: not sure why it bears this name when it is seemed more like circling, unless I was doing it wrong.

Lifting the upper back: I didn’t feel it was doing much, but she said she could feel some stretching. I realise now I was doing it wrongly, lifting both shoulders together instead of alternately. Not easy to get a good hold with straight arms when working on a table. I should probably have a small step handy.

Palm circling on soft spot: she enjoyed that, but not so much the fast up down rocking and diagonal rocking. (I prefer to do these moves on the client side lying, you get more amplitude going on a freer shoulder.)

Working the groove below the shoulder, I found there wasn’t much I could roll up. Will compare that with someone with more flesh.

Rocking the shoulder toward the neck was ok.

For this first module I focused on getting the moves and body posture right, and on leaning in and out. Not so good on the breathing side - will do better next time.

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Patricia Crossley
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November 21, 2021 - 5:07 pm
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Module 2

Sandwich circling the shoulder: we both felt this circling was quite effective, even though I should have aligned myself better with her arm at 45°.

Circling the upper trap: here I sat on the table close to her bum, with my thigh on the table, so I could prop her shoulder against my thigh. We both enjoyed this one and it was an effective angle for finding tight spots.

Palm circling the shoulder went ok, though again I prefer doing this kind of move in the sidelying position.

The next two techniques using the forearm in three positions on the upper arm, and elbow circling, neither of us were happy with. Possibly best left for clients with more flesh? This is where Shama points out his models are petite and they enjoy it, so it must be my technique at fault...

My client has small pecs, so I couldn’t elbow the pec, had to rock it sideways.

Kneading with thumbs: needs more practice, I found it hard to get the posterior/anterior roll and therefore she wasn’t impressed. Could be that I didn’t have the shoulder up high enough on my thigh.

Fingertip circling behind the shoulder: she had no tension spots there.

Push pull shoulder stretch: I found it hard to roll the arm forward and therefore there was little to roll back. Clearly no risk here of overstretching the client! But needs practice.

Arm above shoulder: my client had a problem with this, in fact on her left side she felt a little pain. She explained that she had dislocated her left elbow in a fall when younger and feels the left side has been different since then.

Version 1, the squeeze and roll up, went very well and she was able to get the arm closer to the head on both sides without pain, though slightly better on the right side.

The alternative, rolling the upper arm toward me, was less satisfactory for the both of us.

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Patricia Crossley
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November 21, 2021 - 5:07 pm
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Module 3

The supine shaking techniques went well. I expected her to opt for upper arm traction on the left side, but she had no problem with the 3 point traction and enjoyed it on both sides.

The triangle stretch was a bit weird. She had no problem bringing her elbow back and placing the hand on the table, but on both sides, her hand was facing outwards instead of pointing toward the shoulder. When I tried to shift it I felt resistance so didn’t insist, but it perplexed me.

For the rowboat shoulder stretch, I had no problem sitting on the table next to her legs so I could tuck my foot in her armpit. We both got the giggles at my rowing attempt, I found it hard to get the 70/30 ratio right. It was comfortable for her despite my lack of rhythm.

The shaking parts all went well and were appreciated. I normally do the up down shaking in one place, so taking it in an arc was new and she really liked the vertical lifting of the shoulder.

Throwing the arm went fine. I use a different technique where I stand behind the client and hold both wrists to do broad elliptical circles posteriorly and anteriorly, then I drop the hands to see if the client is holding on. I had done this often in the past on this client and she lets go well. I also throw the leg back and forth on a supine client, catching the back of the ankle in each hand.

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Shama Kern
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November 22, 2021 - 9:11 am
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Welcome back to another course! I really enjoyed reading your story about working with energy and horses - quite fascinating. Did you grow up in Malaysia?

You brought up so many details about the various techniques - I think they all just need some more time, repetition, practice, and revision, along with rewatching the videos, and a lot of these issues will resolve themselves.

I understand that you work on a table. Personally, I have never done this on a table - I have always worked on a floor mat. Is quite possible or likely that some techniques will need some slight modifications or creative adjustments to work well on a table since you can't use the exact same body mechanics as on the floor. I am sure you will figure these out with some time and practice. Laugh

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Patricia Crossley
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November 23, 2021 - 2:51 pm
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Hi Shama, I left Malaysia aged 6. Since then I’ve lived in 14 countries in Africa, South America and Europe, but never returned to Asia, though it fascinates me. It left me with vivid memories of snakes, floods and busy markets. Turns out our house on the edge of the jungle was built on an old Chinese cemetery and my room was a favourite chatroom for some of the departed. On the Day of the Dead our loyal cook and Amha would disappear for 24 hours, having first kindly circled the house with candles lest more ‘departed’ decide to take up residence. When we left our Amha confided she had slept on the floor in the corridor for 5 years to avoid the ones in her room... I gave a Bowen treatment to a medium a few years ago here in France and she told me an older gentleman was in the room observing us. She said he belonged to the house and seemed happy that people were being treated in it. Food for thought...

Regarding these first three modules, yes it will require regular practice, and rewatching the videos. I love being able to go back to videos in the other courses I’ve taken with you. There are many moves in this course so far that I will happily incorporate in other massages. Namaste.  

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Shama Kern
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November 24, 2021 - 6:10 am
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You seem to have had a similar life to me. I think you have me beat with the number of countries you have lived in. My count is 10 so far, and about 50 visited.

What caused all your moving around? 

I have lived in houses with departed ones as well. Actually in Thailand, where I lived for 20 years, everyone is afraid of ghosts, and it is common practice to scare the kids with threats of ghosts.

Pretty much every house in Thailand has a spirit house, a miniature house outside the actual house. The purpose is to offer residence there to the good ghosts so that they keep away the bad ghosts. Every day they do their offerings to the residents of the spirit house - food, drink, incence, etc. Selling spirit houses is a huge business in Thailand since nobody would be caught without one.

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Patricia Crossley
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November 24, 2021 - 9:46 pm
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Hi Shama, my parents moved about a lot and then I worked in 17 countries on 4 continents as a business strategy consultant before giving it up for alternative health. I have only been to some 30 countries, far from your 50, and today’s travelling conditions have killed my appetite for travel. I like the idea of a spirit house, here people just sell spirits... When I was 18 a medium told me a nun who had taught me in Cyprus after Malaysia and an aunt I had never met, both dead, were watching out for me. It was not good for my sex life... I should have bought them a spirit house no doubt. 

 Module 4 Prone

Today I gave a Heavenly Head massage and my client agreed to my first trying out my Module 4 Prone Shoulder moves on her. She had no particular problem and is a relaxed personality despite the tough task of looking after her Alzheimer mother in law.

Most of these shoulder moves worked well and fit in with the prone shoulder work I already do, e.g. diagonal rocking of the scapula, or shoulder circling with her far arm resting on my arm. She enjoyed the most the slow work, the trap work (though her traps were not tense) and shoulder circling. Rolling the arm and the percussion were ok.

I gave up on prone shoulder rotation and pushing the shoulder down as there was nowhere to tuck the arm working on a massage table. I forgot to lighten the session with some rocking or circling...

She loved the Heavenly Head massage, felt very spaced out. I found I had little space in the soft spot for my palm (she is petite), my hand was half on her breast, so I left that out and added some  sideways arm shaking and vertical arm shaking with shoulder lift (she loved that).

When I took her elbow back to place her hand on the table behind her shoulder, her hand was turned right out, like my client last week. Do you get that on some clients, Shama?

The neck work that I remembered to do she enjoyed (like the slow figure of 8), but there was a lot I forgot, underlining the need for regular practice... Still, the hour was easily filled. Smile

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Shama Kern
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November 25, 2021 - 3:40 am
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I also gave up on traveling for the time being. I am not even leaving my town - too many restrictions, constant changes, red tape, surprises, etc. Thailand is one of the worst countries for that (which is why we are not there anymore).

"I found I had little space in the soft spot for my palm (she is petite)" - yes petite people with narrow torsos and little muscle mass don't have much space for the heel of your hand. In such cases you can replace this move with other techniques, like what you did, or you can use several rocking/wiggling/circling moves.

"When I took her elbow back to place her hand on the table behind her shoulder, her hand was turned right out, like my client last week." - yes, I got that quite a few times. In such cases I try to place the hand as close to the shoulder as possible to reduce the wrist angle, and you HAVE TO align the hand correctly, because otherwise it will twist the wrist badly and cause pain or even injury.

If none of this works, then just skip this technique on such clients. As you have probably heard me say - "The techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences". Not every technique works on every client. Luckily there are so many techniques to choose from that it doesn't matter if we skip some of them.

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