August 5, 2013
Although I have had plenty of training in evaluating posture and spinal alignment in my physical therapy training, I appreciated Shama’s quick and concise method of checking for excessive or insufficient lordosis, excessive kyphosis, scoliosis and spinal and/or pelvic rotation. Someone else mentioned in a post that if one part of the spine is misaligned, the next body part will compensate and be misaligned as well. It’s important to explain that to people. Sometimes people want to know why I am working on the pelvis when their knees and feet are hurting.
I especially love the analogy of the avocado sandwich to vertebrae and intervertebral discs. I am often at a loss for words when explaining how the vertebral column and discs work together and what can go wrong. I thank you for that, Shama!
I find that such simple folksy examples (like the avocado sandwich) work better for clients than trying to unleash a litany of strange sounding anatomical terminology. Plus I am an avocado expert, I eat avocado sandwiches almost every day, so I know what I am talking about.
I often have chats with my clients explaining my observations to them. They always appreciate this in my experience. They don’t really expect this from a massage therapist, so it helps our professional image, and it helps their trust level in us, which results in a better connection, a more in depth approach and more repeat clients. Everyone wins.
You are quite correct. If the spine is out of alignment, the pelvis can be out of balance, the SI joint can be out of whack, the knee joint can be twisted and the foot can be turned out excessively… You have to work on the root cause, not the final symptom. The foot and the knee are often symptoms of problems further up in the body. Many people are amazed to hear what havoc structural misalignment can cause.
August 5, 2013
I really appreciate having the written transcript for Module 2 as a guide when interviewing the client, when evaluating the client, and when providing client education. Shama’s language is descriptive and accurate but without the use of professional jargon which can be difficult for everyone to understand. This makes it easy for me to digest the material and also helps me to use appropriate words when speaking to clients.
I believe that the information obtained during the client interview is crucial when putting together a plan of care. I know how frustrating it is for me when a health care professional doesn’t take the time to listen to me. I hope to create an open and trusting feeling between me and my clients. I want to take the time to get to know them so that I may help them better.
Although my western physical therapy education was mostly scientific, evidence-based, I am open to learning about eastern approach to body work. I particularly like the idea of changing cell memory and enabling the body to heal itself by unblocking the flow of energy.
I’m looking forward to Module 3!
You won’t believe how many times a really good client interview has enabled me to approach the session in a much more productive and specific way than just doing a standard type session. Good client interviews and communication have resulted in many dedicated repeat clients for me.
If you want to see how this looks like live, I have a short course (one module) which is a demonstration of general client communication skills. It’s called Therapy Communication Secrets and it is on this page:
August 5, 2013
I checked out the link to the Communication Secrets course. I may just consider taking it some time soon. Thanks for directing me to it. I am interested in taking several other of your courses as well, but I think the Back Massage Course is all I can handle for now.
The most important thing I learned from this module is the fact that we can only do so much with massage therapy. We can ease pain, relax muscles, realign the spine, but only temporarily. It is up to the client to comply with our recommendations for home exercises, lifestyle changes, work place ergonomic changes, etc. to permanently reduce pain, realign the spine, and strengthen weak muscles.
Some people believe that an hour session of body work should “fix” them and are not interested in participating at all in their recovery. It is important for us to find a way to motivate these clients to help themselves. I am not sure how though. Maybe with experience, I’ll learn. I think it has to be meaningful and manageable for each individual. Baby steps. It is great to recommend practicing yoga, but is this person likely to commit to a regular yoga practice if they’ve never done it before? Maybe we could teach one or two appropriate yoga poses and ask the client to do them every day before they eat breakfast. Nothing overwhelming.
My 88 year old father was given several pages of exercises with detailed written instructions by his physical therapist for him to do at home. He doesn’t do any of them! I asked him why. He said the exercises are too complicated. They aren’t really, he just didn’t want to read the lengthy instructions. So I picked half of the exercises that I thought would be most beneficial to him and found a simple photo or drawing showing each exercise. Then I practiced doing them with him a few times. He still doesn’t like to do the exercises, but at least he does them now.
The main thing is to make it clear to clients that massage is just one part of the puzzle towards improving a health condition, and that they have to take responsibility for their health if they want a lasting improvement. If you give someone a big yoga or exercise routine, they will almost never do it, but 2 or 3 exercises for starters, or an easy life style or diet change often works.
I am talking about simple, small, common sense changes, not complicated, in depth solutions, since those generally go beyond the scope of our knowledge anyway.
What I am trying to accomplish is that the client does not come to me with the expectation that I have some kind of magic button which I can press which will fix their ten year old health issue in one hour.
I have found that clients will turn into repeat clients more often if they see me as a valuable adviser for their overall health and life style, and as an intuitive therapist who really listens to them and works with them. This is in contrast to a therapist who just has them lie down and receive the treatment without any communication.
Of course I don’t talk my mouth off with every client, but the knowledge and the communication skills are just an additional tool in our arsenal that can come in handy for certain clients.
August 5, 2013
I am finding that posting in this forum is a valuable component of your courses. It is amazing that you take the time to reply to every post. It is wonderful to interact with you so often. Your expert input and feedback is greatly appreciated. It is also interesting and helpful to read the others’ discussions.
Thanks Renee. This is what makes Thai Healing Massage Academy unique. There is no other online Thai Massage training program out there which provides this interactive learning environment as in this forum.
I love reading the forum posts and responding. It brings the training alive, and it shows me that my training programs are actually working and helping therapists.
August 5, 2013
I’ve had some rocking done to me during Swedish style massages in the past but I always wished it would go on forever! I love being rocked.
The two people I practiced on were not convinced that rocking is really therapeutic and just wanted some really “hard and deep” massage.
I tried to explain that relaxation is so important for healing to occur, and for muscle spasms to let go. Both people, incidentally, were experiencing low back muscle spasms at the time. They liked the rocking techniques well enough, they just were not convinced that they would get results without painful, deep, localized massage. I tried some basic massage techniques using my knuckles and elbows (which I learned in physical therapy school) which I know had to hurt, but they seemed satisfied! They still had the muscle spasms though! Hopefully, as I move through this Thai back program, I’ll learn some different techniques which provide the intense feeling some people are looking for.
August 5, 2013
I’ve read a few other threads from people who are taking the complete Thai Massage Course and they mention practicing the “chi machine.” I am intrigued! Is this something we will learn in the Thai back massage course? If not, I can’t wait to take the complete Thai Massage Course and find out about the chi machine!
It is unfortunate that some people subscribe to the “no pain no gain” philosophy which is just not true. I use rocking techniques a lot and I know from many years of experience that they are very effective. However I have also come across clients who think that the most pain should bring the best results.
You will find plenty of methods in this course to knock the wind out of such clients (just kidding). Later on you will learn how to work on the lower back with elbows, knees and feet. You will be able to work as strongly as any client can handle.
Here is one fact of human nature. If someone is really convinced that deep strong pressure will bring best results and they are not willing to change their minds, then accommodating that and working very deeply will probably work for them, even if it were a kind of placebo effect.
I mean, there are people who had placebo operations (nothing was fixed inside the body, but they were cut open and sewn together again), and they reported substantial improvement after the operation.
The mind is very powerful, and in our therapy we have to work with it and not against it. So even if you are convinced that gentle rocking techniques will bring good results, if this conflicts with a client’s belief system, and they are not willing to consider it, then just work in a way which conforms to their belief system. In this course you will learn both methods, the more gentle rocking techniques and the heavy duty power techniques, so you will be able to work on all kinds of clients and all kinds of belief systems.
In regards to the Chi Machine, it is not included in this course. It is part of the Complete Thai Massage course and also of the Thai Rocking Massage course.
August 5, 2013
I really enjoyed this module because all of the techniques I learned felt really good to the people I practiced on. They especially like the “horse gallop” technique. I haven’t done much work on the floor yet, not because I don’t want to, but because my practice people prefer to just jump up on my table. I don’t have a real Thai massage mat, but I have a good sized exercise mat that I’ve used.
Yesterday and today I worked on a woman with iliosacral pain and stiffness. Perfect to practice the module 5 techniques I thought! She has so much else going on (Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, recovering from a proximal humeral fracture, obesity, and more). The only way I could massage her back and sacral area comfortably was with her seated on a stool with her torso leaning over a pillow onto a table. I was actually able to do the techniques but my body position was totally out of whack. My back is really sore and so are my arms. This was a good lesson on how important therapist position is. I tried side lying on her uninvolved side, but she couldn’t tolerate that either. She was only ok in supine. Can’t do much back work in supine! So maybe Thai back massage is not for every body, right? At least I was able to do some of the knee massage techniques while she was in supine.
August 5, 2013
one more thing about Module 5: I needed to go back to look at parts of the video a few times and I realized that I actually missed a few things the first time around. It is so helpful to have all the videos downloaded for future reference. This is something you don’t get when you take an actual in-person course,
The fact that there is no script or list of techniques, forces me to take my own notes while watching the video. By doing this, it reinforces what I am learning.
So far I am really enjoying the structure of this course. Thanks, Shama!
You came across a rather extreme case with your client. There are very few people who cannot handle back work in either the prone or the side position. I guess there is always one out there! You came up with a good adaptation which worked for her but it was terrible for your body. You don’t want to repeat that kind of thing too often, otherwise you will be the one who needs the therapy more than your clients!
You might want to try to build up a super soft surface with pillows like I demonstrated in the course and see if that allows her to lie prone more comfortably. Use two or three pillows if necessary so that she feels like lying on a cloud.
I heard that from several students – when they go through a video again, they pick up all kinds of things which they had missed the first time around. You are right, this is one area where a video course has an advantage over a live course. You can’t ever totally forget something because you can always watch the videos again to refresh your memory.
I am so glad that you are enjoying the structure of this course!
August 5, 2013
So far I have only been able to try the techniques on my practice parters up on the massage table. Of course, I’ve had to modify quite a bit. I sometimes have one of my legs/knees up on the table or sort of half sit on the table. Transitions from one side to the other have to be a little different too. I try to maintain some contact with the person while I walk around to the other side.
I feel rather clumsy with some of the techniques, especially the forearm pushing against the edge of the sacrum and the forearm rolling toward the edge of the sacrum. I only tried this once actually, so I try again, maybe on a different body. I’ve got quite a few volunteers, but time is an issue.
I’d like to get set up soon to try the massage on the floor. If it doesn’t work for me I can always go back to the table.
August 5, 2013
I thought a module every three days would be too slow a pace. Boy, was I wrong!! There are so many different techniques to learn.
I am happy you pointed out which part of the forearm (soft or bony) to use for different body types or body parts to get the desired results. It makes a big difference.
The circular rocking on the glutes and the rocking on the lower back is a challenge for me. It’s like trying to rub my belly and pat my head at the same time!!
Question: The thumbing or forearm rocking high up on the hip technique–is that the gluteus medius you’re going after? You said people often have knots in that area. I don’t know about other people yet (I haven’t worked long enough), but I certainly do. I asked my boyfriend to do the thumbing technique to me. It feels really good.
Looking forward to the next video.
For me, working on the floor is much easier. You can use your body weight more effectively, is it easier to get around the client, and it is easier to move the client around. It can be done on a massage table, but it is really worth trying it on a floor mat.
It is perfectly normal that the techniques feel clumsy in the beginning. It just takes time to develop the experience and the feeling for them. The clumsy feeling will go away with practice.
Regarding your question – yes this is where the gluteus medius is located. However I don’t really look at it as going after a muscle. I just find areas of tightness, stiffness and resistance, and that’s what I work on regardless of which muscle it is. You could say that I feel my way around the body, or I let the body tell me its story.
August 5, 2013
I have to admit I was not able to do any of the “knee” techniques on the floor. My bad knees simply won’t cooperate. It’s too bad because it would be nice to give my upper body a rest. I tried adapting a couple of the first few “knee” techniques using the table set at a very, very low height. That could actually work if I really had to use these techniques on a large, muscular body.
I did not even try the double knee rocking or the knee power technique because my practice partner said, “no way!” The knee power technique would be useful for a big person with a severe misalignment of the SI joint. I think I might be able to do that one on the table with a little practice.
I was able to use my foot on the glutes as demonstrated at the end of Module 8. That one is easy for me especially if I use a wide stance as you suggested. And it feels good too.
I finally played around with some of the techniques from other modules on the floor. It is impossible for me to sit back on my heels, so I kneel without sitting back, sit cross legged or get in a half-kneel position (one knee on the floor, one foot in front with the knee bent). I feel like I have the best control in the half-kneel position and can do many of the techniques comfortably.
Looking forward to the next module.
Many knee techniques can be replaced with foot techniques as long as you work on the floor, or forearm techniques on the floor or on a table. You are doing the right thing by modifying the techniques to fit the capabilities of your body. Many of us have to work around our issues or trouble spots. Luckily Thai Massage has so many different ways of working on someone that there is always something which you can do which works for your body.
August 5, 2013
I am having fun with the new back moves and trying to get a nice rhythm going without counting out loud. “1-2-3 lean in, 1-2-3 lean out.” Good thing I’m practicing on good friends and family who don’t mind my learning process. Everybody ends up laughing and relaxing. Laughter is the best medicine, right?!
I’ve been able to do all the techniques from modules 9 and 10 on the table. I get up on the table with the client (if he is small enough) to do the bilateral work using the fingertips in the spinal grooves.
Using the elbow with enough sensitivity is a challenge. There was not so much laughing going on when I practiced the elbow techniques. More constructive criticism which is great. Now people are asking me to do more rocking!!!! Remember, at first some of my practice people thought it was useless? Hah!
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