July 2, 2019
Fantastic - happy to hear that!
Hamstrings stretches can be really hard on people with tight hamstrings. In such cases it is often better to skip the stretches for the time being and just work on the hamstrings muscles with compression techniques, using forearms, knees and feet. This can be more effective for loosening them up than the stretches. In the case of extreme tightness, stretches are not always the best remedy.
Regarding therapeutic work, there is just no way to do a full body Thai Massage session in one hour and include effective therapy work on a problem area. I always ask my clients if they would prefer me to do the entire body, or focus more on their trouble area and skip parts of the body. Almost without exception they told me that they preferred that I worked on their issue, even if that meant I could not work on their entire body. Makes sense!
Now if you do two-hour sessions, that changes the picture.
July 2, 2019
Yes! 1 hour is not enough for extensive therapeutic work. I find this to be the case on the table with lubricated massage as well. I have 60", 90" and 120" appointments available and it does change how much I can cover and I do explain that to clients. It's really my own hang up in that I like to at least "say hello" to the entire body. The client I had today for a 90" session, we still focused on hips and upper body and filled the entire 90." I did an abbreviated hip pie by including lots of circling and rocking instead of really leaning into each stretch as I did not have time to warm the area up properly, because he also wanted upper body work. It worked out great and I had plenty of time to work on the abdomen, shoulders and neck, arms and side body and back/sacrum. Although he has tight hamstrings he was up for trying the standing sandwich stretch and he enjoyed it. He also commented that my flow has improved a lot since he started coming, both within each move and when transitioning from one technique to the other, which was great to hear! I feel a lot more confident too! Overall it was a very satisfying session for both of us!
July 2, 2019
Module 14 - Hip rocking
I was practicing the slow hip rock on a client yesterday. He is much larger than I am and what I found most difficult was getting my hands under his buttocks to lift him. Using my body weight to lift him as not so bad, although his pants were a bit slippery. I think this would be much easier on a smaller client, but I will keep practicing.
The method for crossing over the client's body reminds me of how I shift my body from one side of a garden bed to the other when I am straddling it to harvest. It is a move that I am familiar and comfortable with and and it seems pretty comfortable to keep rocking all the while.
July 2, 2019
Module 15 - Abdomen and chest
I really enjoy giving and receiving abdominal massage. Much of this was familiar to me but it was a reminder to feel comfortable offering it to clients because they are not accustomed to have it offered. I feel comfortable wit the round plate and the push/pull wave motions although my transition from having the right hand on the bottom to having the left on the bottom could be smoother. My inclination is to shift my body so that my hara is facing that opposite hip and keeping the right hand below.
When elephant walking on a man's rib cage, I still feel uncomfortable just working over the "breast" area, so I like to ask for consent before hand. It just feels like a "private" area.
I love sternum work and like to include some conscious breathing instruction for the client at that time if their breathing is shallow. I find that working the sternum really makes clients aware of how restricted their breathing is and they have given feedback about breathing more freely afterwards.
July 2, 2019
Module 16 - Shoulders
With my client yesterday who wanted to focus on upper body I got to practice all these techniques and he really enjoyed them.
I noticed several times you have said that our breath should not be audible. I do realize you mean not to have the exaggerated breath that you are demonstrating to remind us to breathe, but I actually like to make it somewhat audible at times as a reminder to the client to connect with their own breath.
My client really loved the second, third and fourth moves with the shoulder elevated on to the thigh. He thought that angle felt great and I liked how I could really get under the shoulder that way.
The shoulder rowboat is similar to the stretch with the hip out at a right angle and so the balance of push pull while maintaining a little tension in the opposite push/pull is getting to feel more natural as I do it.
The arm-triangle shoulder stretch was also really well received by my client and I liked extending it along the side body by also pressing on the upper thigh.
I am happy to hear that you got such positive feedback and that your confidence grew.
Regarding working on men's chests - men have no sensual feeling there like women and this doesn't feel like a private area to them at all. In my experience men love to have their chest worked on since many therapists avoid this area, and it feels great.
I would not ask them for permission since this insinuates that there might be something wrong with you touching them there. Why introduce a doubt if there is no need for that! That's just my 5 cents worth, based on my experience.
Personally, for the chest work I would not ask clients to breathe since this pulls them out of this blissful trance which they can slip into during a good session. I find that inducing deep trance-like relaxation is more important than getting clients involved with breathing, although this is certainly beneficial. I just don't like disrupting their trance. However if you have those yogi-type clients, they might appreciate some added breathing.
You might have a different approach to that and get different results. I can only report what has worked best for me. This doesn't necessarily mean that it will also work best for you.
However for the abdominal work it can be very useful to ask clients to breathe a bit more. I have covered this a lot more in my Abdominal Massage specialty course.
I am glad to hear that you feel comfortable with abdominal work since many therapists have quite a hang-up about that unfortunately.
July 2, 2019
Module 17 - Arms and hands
I LOVE the circular elephant walk technique. In the past I have just done 90 degree compression as that is what I learned in shiatsu working along the arm meridians, but this is easier on my wrist and feels great to do and receive. The circling just adds such a great sensation as the pressure shifts on the arm due to the circling. Also both of the practice partners that I had for practicing this module loved the 45 degree hand slide.
I also liked holding the arm up a bit for the circular thumb kneading of the arm sen lines. In shiatsu we had the different arm stretches for each meridian, but I like the simplicity of keeping the arm in one place and adjusting the thumb position instead.
The four finger traction is a move that is taking some practice for me. I felt it was much more fluid on the second hand for my first practice partner and overall today on my second practice partner, but I'm going to make a point of including it in all my massage for a while to get really comfy with it.
I love the combination of traction, squeezing, sliding and rotating in all of these moves and so did my practice partners. They could really feel the difference between the arm that had been worked and the one that hadn't.
The feedback I get from everyone when I work their arms is that it feels great and they don't get worked enough in massages in general. I always remind them they can request from their massage therapist that it be a focus of the session. I know that as a former farmer and professional gardener and now as a massage therapist, I certainly have always enjoyed it and requested it and I'm so glad to have a few more techniques here that I can add to my repertoire both on the mat and on the table.
July 2, 2019
Module 18 - Transitions, shoulders and spinal twists
I appreciated the detailed instructions on the transition above the head with the arms. It felt very comfortable.
My partner yesterday is pretty small so I was able to do the upper back twist and stretch but I could definitely feel it in my own back so it was not the most effortless technique for me and I would not want to do it with a larger client, at least unless I get stronger in my back or figure out if/how I'm doing it wrong.
I also had the opportunity to practice the standing sandwich stretch and the power hamstring/hip/back stretch from Module 12 with my friend who is more flexible and she really enjoyed both of them, especially how it tractioned/opened up her lower back. We also practiced the half back arch with quad and hip flexor stretch from Module 14 and she noted that it was a good stretch for the quad and hip flexors, but that until I added weight to her leg by her knee that it was an uncomfortable position for her knee. We tried bringing her let up to a full stomach meridian makko-ho stretch which was more comfortable for her knee and doing it that way, but then she only felt the stretch in her mid quads and not the hip flexors, so we decided the trick was to put the leg how you showed it but apply pressure above the knee right away, at least in her case.
July 2, 2019
Module 19 - Supine uppper body review and quantum touch/breath
Again so grateful for these review sessions and to see the moves flow into one another. I think that even though I'm taking a slower pace with the course than the speed at which the modules are released it's still so much information that I'm only holding on to and incorporating a few techniques from each module into my massages, so when I see the review it's a nice reminder of things I had forgotten (shoulder rocking, abdominal sandwich). There really is so much content in this course! I look forward to reviewing these videos over and over for refreshers.
As I was reviewing techniques with a friend a few nights ago I gave figure 8 shoulders another try, but it's still really awkward for me and I felt that, not being as tall as you, my groin was too close to my friends and with the figure 8 motion it would just be uncomfortable to do this with my clients who are mostly men so far. I think the technique where the arms are pulled up perpendicular to the body and tractioned in a figure 8 motion works better for my situation and accomplishes some similar shoulder motion. It was also a good reminder to see you do the circular compressions on the arm as I tend to default to straight compressions since that is what I learned in shiatsu and have been doing, but I really like adding the circular motion. I'm finally getting a better handle of the finger traction wave and I did it to my friend who is a massage therapist the other day and she commented on how much she liked it.
I have been practicing the quantum touch/breath often, often when I am meditating so I get the hang of it and becomes more natural. It is harder to incorporate the visualization into massage at this point for me, unless it's a slower move or I'm doing a hold. I do include it at the beginning and/or end of massages when I am just holding the head or the feet for a few moments before I thank my client and that does feel very nice.
July 2, 2019
Module 20 - prone legs 1
I was able to practice the leg modules with my friend who also does Thai massage and she did some of these techniques on me so I could fee them as well, which was wonderful. I was surprised at how nice the elbows felt on the sole, a bit like a roll-on deodorant ball. Not at all how I had imagined it when I was doing it to her. We tried to get at close to the heel as possible and we both thought it felt nice even going onto the toes. Maybe our feet are particularly fleshy all the way!
Practicing the compression and traction technique we found it felt better during compression to dorsiflex the foot more, so we leaned into the foot holding it below the heel instead of holding the heel in our palm. When I did this to my husband, he thought both hand positions felt fine. In general though all three of us preferred the traction component of the technique to the compression. When rocking, my husband also preferred when my body weight focus was on the pulling, more of a traction rock than compression rock as a counter to all the compression that we engage in throughout the day. My husband said it felt nice all the way up to his ql/lower back.
July 2, 2019
Module 21 - prone legs 2
The transition to the 45 degree position to work on the hip felt very awkward when I was practicing on my husband who is much taller than me. I couldn't anchor his foot on my thigh, so instead I held his foot in my hand as I scooted up and brought the knee to 45 degrees and that worked better.
I also had to use a cushion between my leg and his during the hamstring warm up as his leg didn't rest on mine, just floated in the air. The cushion stabilized his leg nicely.
For the prone triangle stretch I tried using a soft fist as my tool, instead of the palm as that was starting to bother my wrist and my husband said that felt fine as well.
The knee on tibialis anterior felt wonderful to both my friend and my husband and to me too when I received it. It's such an ignored area in many respects that I think it really appreciated the attention.
A slower pace with the course is fine. There are hardly any course students who can keep up with the course as it is delivered. That's no problem, there is no reason to 'keep up.'
You are right - the visualization doesn't really work so well for rapidly changing techniques. It does work better in the scenarios which you described, or you can try keeping a general visualization in your mind for what you want to accomplish with the session. In other words, the idea is not to come up with a visualization for each and every technique.
I am glad you found out that there is no reason to be afraid of elbow work. Done right, it feels perfectly good.
I can see that you are doing a great job with modifying techniques creatively to make them work best for your clients and for you.
July 2, 2019
Module 22 - prone legs 3
I have included the single and double heel to buttock stretch in my massages for quite a while and most of my clients are not that flexible so I haven't had to find a deeper version, still it is good to have the option to power up the stretch when I do get that client who has looser quads.
The stretch with the inner hand on the glutes and the outer hand lifting the leg at a with then knee at 90 degrees is a nice stretch that my clients enjoy (as do I when I receive it!), but at least with my heavier clients it does require some effort and I find that I sometimes have trouble getting my outer hand under their leg without them wanting to help me out so I'm working on how to do that more smoothly so they can just relax.
Working on the buttocks with my knees is one of my favorite things as it really is so easy to apply nice controlled deep pressure that feels really good to the client and loosens up the hip joint. I have not been able to practice the pulling over of the opposite hip yet because my clients recently have been larger and that puts some strain on my back, but tonight I will be doing a trade with friend who is smaller and will do it on her to get some feedback as well as have her do it to me so I can experience it. Looking forward to it!
July 2, 2019
Module 23 - sacrum
I love sacrum work too! I jumped ahead to it once it became available to me because I was so excited for it. I include it my thai sessions and also in table sessions and clients always love it. Just applying direct compression over it feels so good and adding the circling just takes it to another level. I have been adding pretty much all of these techniques for clients with lower back tension and pain and they all love it. When I am doing a table massage I just climb on the table so I can apply that direct pressure and work over the blanket.
July 2, 2019
Module 24 - prone back 1
With all these erector techniques, the one I had the most trouble with is the offset wiggle. It's not a problem on its own, but adding in the lean back and forth somehow throws my rhythm off, so I have found that I have been staying away from it while practicing the others, but I want to make a point of having my practice partner try it on me so I can feel it and then consciously re-incorporate it into my massages so I can get more comfortable with it. Otherwise the feedback has been that adding in the lean and having that steadily varying pressure is very soothing.
I am glad to hear that you love the sacrum work. Here again some massage therapist are apprehensive for reasons that I cannot understand since all my clients loved sacrum work.
The offset wiggle takes a little more coordination and practice time, but it will come after a while.
July 2, 2019
Module 25 - Prone back 2
The elbow rocking work along the groove between the spine and erectors has become one of my trademark techniques for back work both on the mat or the table since I learned it from this module a couple month ago (I'm really behind on forum posts!). Clients universally love it. With some clients it's a bit harder to find the groove, but I just use my fingers and check in with them if I'm really not sure that I'm in the right spot. Wit the forward rock I have added some sideways wiggling of my forearms as I lean back and forth because I really find vibration to be relaxing to the muscles and the client. I have asked a couple of my clients and practice partners which they prefer and the really like the addition of the wiggling.
Working with the knee has been a wonderful way to give my arms and hands a break and achieve deep pressure for clients who like that, but I can also control the weight for clients who prefer less deep work. I sometimes notice that it makes my knee crack a bit, but it doesn't bother me. With the knee work I have also added a wiggle to it to help the back muscles relax and gotten great feedback for that too.