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Rebeca Torres-Rose - Complete Thai Massage Course Notes
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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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July 3, 2019 - 4:11 am
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Module 1

I enjoyed the review (for me) of the techniques, tools and positions and principles of Thai massage.  Even when I already know about these, a reminder keeps options fresh in my mind.  For example, I had not been using percussion much lately, but after watching the module today I incorporated it into a massage with a client. 

One principle I am always coming back to is my comfort and use of my whole body weight.  One of the realizations I had when watching the video is that not every technique or position might be for every client.  I practice a lot on my husband who is tall and thin, but my most regular client is much larger and muscular than my husband.  Things that I am comfortable doing with my husband are harder to do on on him. 

Right now, as a beginner, I do think a lot about applying a specific technique to work on a specific muscle group (as I don't yet know the sen lines).  It is good for me to remember that there are many paths up the mountain and I can focus on the sensation/quality of touch that I am attempting to achieve vs. a specific technique that might not be the best choice for to use on a client. At least not until I am more comfortable and adept at it. One of the reasons I like Thai massage is the explicit connection between breath and movement. 

I also encourage my clients to follow what we are doing with their breath and I listen to their breath to guide the depth and pace of my work.  When I am feeling comfortable with a move, I am able to synchronize my breath to the moves and to the client's breath.  I love when that happens.  And I realize that when my breath goes out of sync it is because I am in my head, worrying or planning my next move.  I think this will change as I become more familiar with the technique and can "make music" with it.  Right now I'm often just "playing scales" as I incorporate new things.

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Shama Kern
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July 4, 2019 - 1:13 am
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Welcome to the Complete Thai Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Checklist

You will find that this course encourages a more creative and intuitive approach to Thai Massage over a more mechanical and strictly sequential one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, not every technique works well on every client. The art is to choose the right techniques for every client. This course teaches how to do that.

You will also find that there are many modifications and adjustments offered for the techniques to better fit them to your own body and to the client's requirements. You will definitely progress from the scales to the music! Smile

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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July 5, 2019 - 6:17 am
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Module 2

Chi-machine: I felt comfortable in the kneeling position and putting my partner into the position.  It felt natural to wiggle my hips and it was easy to get his body to wobble all the way to his nose.  We tried it a different speeds as well to see the different effects.  My partner expressed that the one thing that was not comfortable was the feeling of his knees hyperextending/not having support.  He wondered if it was just a matter of not being used to the move and felt it would be uncomfortable to stay in this position for more than minute.  I tried lowering my hands off my thighs so his legs would be closer to the ground, which he felt was a bit more comfortable but was not as ergonomic for me.  We also played with how I held his heels without gripping and yet without having his feet slide off my hands.  He said he did not feel a rush of energy at the end of the rocking.  We will try it again tomorrow.

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July 6, 2019 - 6:29 pm
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If someone has hyper-extended knee joints, that's a contraindication for the Chi Machine. However we have some students who have experimented with putting a pillow under the knees for such clients. You might want to try if that works for you.

Regarding the rush of energy - if someone is focused on knee issues, giving you feedback, and watching what you are doing, it is almost impossible to feel the energy rush because there is too much mental activity going on. I suggest you practice this until you feel comfortable with it, and then try it on someone who does not have knee issues and who can relax more easily without watching everything you do. Then ask about the feeling of it.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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July 10, 2019 - 6:46 pm
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I did try it on a client who enjoyed it but did not mention a rush of energy either.  I also used it at the beginning of another session, but did not request specific feedback on it and the client didn't volunteer it.  Will keep practicing.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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July 10, 2019 - 7:06 pm
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Module 3 - Foot Massage 1

I was familiar with the simpler moves from my previous training and yet I really appreciated the specificity of instruction on how and where to apply pressure on the feet.  The circular move was new to me and I appreciated the clear instructions and the recommendation to practice one element at a time and then putting them together incrementally.  While we were using the music analogy previously, this module made me think more of learning to dance, incorporating different steps seamlessly.  The dance-like quality of Thai massage is part of what attracts me to it.  Just like dance, practice will bring confidence and fluidity so that I can do it without thinking.  I have practiced a few times and sometimes I get in a groove it feels right and then suddenly, maybe because I get back in my head to check in that I'm not missing anything or "doing it right", rather than focus on the feel of it, I get off track and have to regain the rhythm.  I definitely have to practice the transition to holding one leg so I can do it smoothly.  I really like how my extended leg provides some support/contact below the knee.  I have done this leg rotation movement many times  before and really like giving and receiving it, both on the floor and the table, but it has always been without any support under the leg.  This is a nice change and comforting way to make contact with the client.  I look forward to practicing all these moves and transitions more this week.

 

Re: Module 2 feedback My husband is my most accessible practice partner and he is definitely very cerebral so it is hard for him not to be analyzing and wanting to give feedback when I am learning techniques with him.  It was like this when I was in massage school too.  It can be both useful and frustrating.  To be fair, I can be that way as well.  When he practiced the chi machine on me later so I could feel it, I did not notice a rush of energy either, but I enjoyed the full body rock nonetheless and felt it was a nice way to start a massage session by "shaking out" whatever came before in the day.  A client experiencing an energy rush will just be a possible bonus and that's OK with me.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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July 10, 2019 - 7:50 pm
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Module 4 - Foot Massage 2

I appreciate the regular reminders of the process of learning and incremental improvement.  The wisdom of releasing the modules incrementally is also becoming really plain as there is a lot in each module to practice until it becomes natural and we are ready to take on new information without being overwhelmed.

I really like the approach of being about the feel of the move as well as the techniques.  The conceptual approach to learning the work helps with that.  It makes it easier to improvise later.  In addition to the logic of the ways a body part can move, I wonder if there are also different physiological/energetic/psychological effects for different moves so that we can use that information/those concepts as well to put together a session.  In this regard, I found having an understanding of the 5 elements an their correspondences in Shiatsu gave me a framework to approach a client's concerns.

It was also really clear to me after watching your movements in this module that by shifting our body weight in order to apply pressure we can get into a trance like rhythm that adds to the meditative quality of the massage for both us and the client.  The resulting bowing and rocking reminds me of some prayer/meditation traditions, and of course the instinct to rock babies to sleep, or sway in a hammock for relaxation, or even the instinct to rock for self-soothing in traumatic situations.  (I can't wait to take the rocking massage course next!)

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Shama Kern
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July 11, 2019 - 1:24 am
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Regarding the Chi Machine - the secret here is that the easier the move feels to you, the better effect you get with a client. The harder it feels for you when you do it, the less effective it becomes. Just keep playing with it and try to feel the dance in it and get rid of all effort. That's the secret really.

I appreciate that you recognize the benefit of the gradual delivery schedule. Often in the beginning of the course students are quite impatient, and some request that they get access to everything immediately (which we don't do, and can't do anyway the way how it's set up). 

I am pretty sure that the gradual delivery is the only way how we can get students to practice regularly and without overwhelm, and also to learn the more subtle details instead of just copying techniques. 

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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September 13, 2019 - 1:21 am
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Module 5 - Leg warm-up

It's been a long time since I posted on the forum.  I have been watching the videos (although I have fallen behind) and practicing on clients, but I have not been keeping up with the posts. 

In this module, I especially appreciated the detailed explanation on how to block the leg from moving with our foot or leg when doing these techniques. With the blocking technique I and the client feel that the moves are more secure which always feels nicer.  I also like how it becomes another "mother" point of contact between giver and receiver.  The lift/roll technique was also a good reminder for me, as I generally have been using compression and broad rocking "kembiki" style techniques that I learned in shiatsu.  The lift/roll reminds me of the kind of petrissage we would do on clothed athletes at an event warm up.

I have to practice the push/pull move on the quads a bit more to more quickly/comfortably/naturally get into the rhythm, like I had to with the two foot circles in module 3.  

I've been practicing chi machine as well and got some good feedback from a friend without any prompting on how she felt the wiggling up to her chest and then from there up it felt like tingling all the way up her head.  The feeling continued even after I stopped and we were talking about it.  I timed it for 2 minutes, but checking in with her after she thought she could start to feel that tingling effect pretty shortly after I started.  I want to time my breaths so that I can time the technique by breath, not by the clock.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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September 13, 2019 - 1:53 am
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Module 6 - Leg warm-up w/ forearms

With the first rocking technique, I tried it both keeping the lower hand in place below the knee, but also moving it down the leg away from the upper hand and the upper hand moved up the leg towards the hip and asked my friend if they felt any difference.  She said she liked it both ways.  I'm curious what the reason is for keeping the lower hand in the same place the way you teach it.

The rolling forearms was something we also learned in our shiatsu class and that was familiar, but hooking the outer thigh was new for me and I liked that.

When working on the outer calf my friend felt some discomfort in her ankle as I got farther down the leg.  It was not to much on the other leg.  I think maybe I went too close to the bone at the bottom on the first leg and was more conscious of it on the second leg.  But also, I may have misunderstood what the hand placement should be.  You referenced a bone, but it looked like you were pointing to the tibia and you talked about calf muscles, but it looked to me like you were working on the peroneals between the tibia and the fibula.  Perhaps I misunderstood the placement of my hand and should have been more lateral/posterior the fibula to work on the calf muscles.  Could you clarify that placement?

When elephant walking on the inner calf, I forgot to move my hand along the inside of the foot so I have made a note to myself to add that back in next practice session.

Although I have been practicing leaning vs pressing since I got my license, I still have to check in with myself at times to see if I haven't started tensing up and pressing vs. leaning, so I love the many reminders to lean instead of press.  Just the other day I got nice feedback from a client on just that issue.  He said I work in a deep way that still feels soft and unforced.  I think that is what you have been getting at so it was good to hear.

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September 14, 2019 - 12:46 am
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That's excellent that you got the tingling effect with your friend - you are obviously doing it right!

The reason why I keep my lower hand in the same place during the rocking is because in this way I have better leverage and control over how the leg moves. This works best for me. If you can keep the leg nicely centered on your thigh while moving both hands away from the knee, there is nothing wrong with this either, but I get better control in the way I show it. This control is necessary to prevent the knee from sliding too close to your body or moving away from you. The knee should stay centered on your thigh.

Regarding the hand placement on the lower leg, the heel of your hand is right next (lateral) to the tibia. Remember that in Thai Massage we are not working on muscles, but on the energy lines. In this case the outside energy line #1 runs right along or parallel to the tibia.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 1, 2019 - 8:53 pm
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Module 7 - Leg Stretches 1

We did a fair amount of visual assessment of clients imbalances in massage school, but it is always nice to review things.  As I am learning I tend to have an impulse to work both sides of the body equally, but I realize, that as with table massage, one side or part of the body sometimes needs more work.  As I become more comfortable in my repertoire of Thai techniques I will be able to let go of that impulse to work evenly.

With the first stretch, which I have practiced quite a bit now, I am always amazed at how pressure on the thigh pushes up the calf under the opposite hand and vice versa.  It feels great too.

Again, I appreciate the detailed description of the transition from move to move.

I love working/walking with my feet on the legs. It feels so good to receive and to give too.  The arch of the foot fits so nicely on the larger muscles of the leg and it's easy to apply deeper pressure with the heel if someone desires it in a particular spot.

I also love the circular hip lift cross pull stretch and the people I have practiced it on appreciate that it is a movement that they don't often encounter and is very relaxing.  

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 1, 2019 - 9:22 pm
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Module 8 - Leg stretches 2

I love the hip pie concept and using the degrees makes it easier to annotate SOAP notes as well when I am recording a session.

Twisting/pulling the calves to the right and left feels so good too and again, I think it's because it's not a move that the calves encounter in daily movement and so it stimulates the nerves in new and "exciting" ways that feel great to the client and help the calf relax.

With the knee warm-up, I find that I forget to lean back and forth, but the more I practice it the more I remember and I appreciate how the change in lean adds more levels of "pressure" or sensation to the knee area.

With 180 deg. stretch with some clients I can only palm the most medial area of the hamstrings and with male clients it can be very hard to get far without feeling like I'm dangerously close to the genitals, so I often just stretch without the additional hamstring compression. 

I love the rocking and circles to loosen the joint and also rocking into the 180 stretch. I have had clients describe that pinching in the hip, not so much at 180 deg. but at 135 and tried rocking to alleviate it with mixed results.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 1, 2019 - 9:56 pm
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Module 9 - Leg stretches 3

Question: When elephant walking on the adductors/sen line 2 with the hip at 90 deg., is is ok to let the opposite hip come up if the client is tight? Or do we only want to do that if they are flexible enough to open all the way without the other hip lifting?  

I like to rotate into the 135 deg stretch, but hadn't paired it with 12321 palming before this.  I sometimes find it hard enough to control the leg rotation as my regular clients are larger and have heavy legs, but I will try to remember to incorporate that with smaller clients whose limbs are easier for me to maneuver with one hand.

Introducing a pain scale for stretches is always a good idea.  I like to explain to my overachieving type A clients that going too far into a stretch can cause the muscles to tense up protectively and be counterproductive as well as dangerous.  If they want a deeper stretch sensation, I will have them go to a 6 or 7 and then resist me.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 1, 2019 - 10:36 pm
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Module 10 - Leg stretches 4

The anatomy of a Thai massage move is the same as we learned from our shiatsu instructors,although our instructors said the first principle was lovingkindness, which is what made me fall in love with that shiatsu class.  I like to visualize the hara shining a light on the area that I am working on.  If I'm starting to feel tired, uncomfortable or distracted in a session I go over all those principles to make sure I'm still on track and regroup.  If I am still feeling ungrounded I go back to a lovingkindness mantra for a few breaths.

Blood stop makes me nervous because clients can be very casual or forgetful when filling out their health intakes and don't always mention if they have ever had blood clots, varicose veins and such and since they are clothed I can't see what their veins look like.  I feel more comfortable staying away from this kind of technique.  There are so many other techniques that I just don't worry about it.

I really like the extended leg calf muscle stretch and clients find it very effective.  I have also incorporated it into table work.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 1, 2019 - 11:05 pm
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Module 11 - supine lower body review

thanks for including the summary sessions in the program.  It's really helpful to see the flow from one technique to the next.

Re-watching chi machine at the start of the massage reminded me of something my friend said after I did it with her, she wondered if there was something similar that would start at the top of the body.  I also wonder that in regards to incorporating something like chi machine when someone has requested a focused session on the upper body and I won't be flowing from chi machine into foot/leg work.  Perhaps this will come along later in the course...

Thinking again about the concept of how can I move (insert body part), and how useful it is to the client too to be reminded of all the ways a body part can safely and even pleasurably move.  I think so much of what ails us physically is due to a very limited range of motion in most modern people's daily lives and that one of the huge benefits of massage is reminding the body, nervous system consciousness that there is more out there than what we have become accustomed to.

Watching the rocking of the leg also reminded me how I sometimes wonder how long I should do a technique and wondering now if it might be of benefit to have a session (maybe a practice one) where I put the client in control of letting me know when they are ready to move on to the next technique.  Have you ever done something like that, Shama?

I have been finding that my wrist and the area around the pisiform on my hand have been getting sore, even though I love doing palmar compressions and when I do forearm moves, even though my forearm and hand are relaxed I feel my shoulders tensing up in order to anchor my arm into my body and be able to apply my body weight,  so I am still working to find a balance there.

Also the foot walking on the inner thigh at 90 degrees, I have noticed that some clients have difficulty getting their leg to 90 comfortably, but it seems to me that the foot compressions on the thigh would still be beneficial even if the hip angle is reduced.  Is that right or should I stay way from that move if the client can't comfortably have the let out at 90 degrees?

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Shama Kern
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October 2, 2019 - 12:38 am
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Regarding the 90 degree hip stretch - it is quite normal that the opposite hip comes up a bit. It should not come up a lot, but it will only rarely stay all the way on the ground in the case of very flexible clients.

Regarding the loving kindness aspect - this is applicable to Shiatsu as well as Thai Massage. Actually in my mind, this is not something that applies to a particular massage style, but should ideally be present in all healing arts. I know - this is not much taught in western massage education unfortunately. I am glad that you are so comfortable with this aspect. Some western therapists have a hard time with this concept.

Regarding the 'blood stop', as you say, there are so many techniques that you can easily skip those which you don't feel comfortable with.

Regarding your questions about module 11 - Is there something like the Chi Machine that starts from the top of the body? Yes, there is. There are rocking techniques that primarily affect the upper body which you will get to in the course soon.

I have never asked a client when I should move on to the next technique, but I am very receptive to client input. If someone indicates that they really like a move, I will stay with it longer. I also encourage clients before I start the session to tell me if they do or do not like something. I am very aware of working WITH a client and not just ON a client.

Regarding tensing the shoulders - that's something you need to eliminate. Try to develop the feeling of softly sinking in with your entire body, not just with your arms. Consciously relax your body and your shoulder. Breathing with the moves, if possible, is also very helpful. Breathe out when you lean in, and breathe in when you lean out.

If your wrists hurt, be aware of not working with a wrist angle of 90 degrees. Try to keep your wrists angled at no more than 45 degrees and adjust your position so that you can accomplish this.

Regarding the hip angle at 90 degrees - yes, even at a reduced angle this stretch is beneficial. Don't worry about getting it to 90 degrees if that doesn't work for a particular client.

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 2, 2019 - 12:44 am
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Thanks for all the great feedback!

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 15, 2019 - 1:46 am
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Module 12 - Hip stretches

I have found the first hamstring/calf stretch to be awkward with all the different clients that I have tried it on with varying sized and heights.  I find the first alternative calf stretch to be the best/most comfortable one to do for the calves on everyone so far and I LOVE IT and so do they.  So far, I have found the second alternative stretch with the heel on the shoulder difficult because it's hard for me to hold the leg straight by holding it just below the knee and the clients' legs often bend.  It might be that a lot of my clients have tight hamstrings (from too much chair sitting!!!) and so the power stretch isn't really appropriate for them anyway 🙂

I had done elephant walking on the knees to massage the sacrum before but I always worried about the legs flopping around and the way that locked everything in with your feet under the buttocks and the lower legs on the outside has made a huge difference and the added stability lets me lean on the knees more deeply with confidence.  Same with the circles.  Thank you!

I haven't felt comfortable trying the power hamstring/hip/back stretch yet because my clients and friends all seem to have pretty tight hamstrings and I can't even bring their legs up to 90 degrees without the knees having to bend, but I have a practice session with another Thai massage therapist who is also a yogi on Wednesday and I will finally have a chance to try it out and have her do it to me too!

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Rebeca Torres-Rose
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October 15, 2019 - 5:12 am
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Module 13 - hip stretches 2

I'm so glad you covered this way to deal with adductor pain during the knee to chest stretch because I have encountered it with a few clients and I have tried circling or wiggling into the stretch instead or if it was still uncomfortable I just eased off and moved the hip angle towards the shoulder instead, but this will provide me with something more active to address and hopefully resolve this tension.  I can't wait to try it!  I'm also glad you talked about using the word "discomfort" instead of "pain." I go even further sometimes and try to use the word "sensation" and let them describe it as feeling helpful/therapeutic or not helpful/therapeutic (vs. good pain and bad pain). 

As for measuring "pain scale" and re-assessing, we learned that in massage school and I agree it is a very effective tool for us to assess if what we are doing is helpful and also to make the client connect more to how their body feels and how that sensation can change. 

I tend to like to do the entire pie for clients who mention hip tension, but in a 1 hour session it's hard to cover all the positions and warm up.  I felt good this past week with a client who had a short 1 hour session and wanted to cover a few things, to just select which pie sections I thought would be most beneficial and not do them all.  

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