May 10, 2013
This is my first post and I am very excited to get started. I just finished viewing Module #1 and I feel quite confident in the journey ahead. All of the positions of the client and therapist are familiar to me through my massage therapy program. I attend a school that focuses heavily on proper body mechanics and we work on tables that are much lower than what I have seen anywhere else. The rational for this aligns beautifully with Shama's belief in using body weight instead of "pressing." We are learning to lean with flat backs and to use gravity to provide wonderfully, healing pressure without muscle force. With proper body mechanics, we are able to bend correctly with absolutely zero back, shoulder, and neck problems even after performing an hour or more massage session.
I am super excited to receive the next module and begin hands on practice with my partner!
May 10, 2013
Module #2 Chi Machine
This was a really great experience for me and my partner! I was able to perform the Chi Machine very well the first time around, however I did realize some things: My partner's low back hurt as we rocked, so I put a small pillow under her back. Then, my knees hurt as I rocked, so I sat cross legged on my bottom. The move was still very effect, but I am unsure if my position is an okay modification. What do you think? Is it okay to perform the Chi Machine with the therapist's legs crossed, while sitting on his/her bottom? I still held the ankles on my thighs, kept my back straight, and focused on the hips.
I am excited to practice the next module; I really love working on feet. I have watched the video once and will watch it again before practicing on my partner.
I know that if you are not used to sitting with your legs tucked under it can be uncomfortable in the beginning. However with a little practice it is not hard to get used to this position. I recommend practicing sitting like this, since it is used in Thai Massage frequently, although not to the extent that it is used in the Chi Machine.
I honestly have never tried to do the Chi Machine while sitting cross legged. I will try this on my wife tonight. You must be doing something right since you say that it worked very well. In general it is always ok to modify positions as long as it helps you to be comfortable, maintain good ergonomics, and does not require more muscle power than the original way of doing it.
Regarding the back pain of your partner, this can have two causes. Either she has back issues or the mat which you are using is too hard - or both. I recommend you ask her where exactly she feels the pain. This can help you pinpoint an area where she needs work. In other words does she feel it in her upper or middle or lower back, right side or left side or both?
If you can eliminate the mat as the problem (if it is not too hard), the next step would be to ask your partner if she ever experiences back pain in the same area outside of your session. Then ideally you would check her for lordosis and kyphosis by doing a simple visual structural analysis.
Then you would feel her back and check for issues where she experiences the pain. Now I realize that this goes well beyond the stage of the course you are in. I just want to give you an idea what can happen later once you have more knowledge and experience, how one thing can lead to another, and how pain somewhere in the body can lead to a new treatment direction with a client.
In other words, if a client experiences pain, the job of an experienced therapist is to use this as a clue to investigate further and possibly come up with appropriate treatment options. I don't want to freak you out - this is just a preview of coming attractions of what you can do with Thai Massage eventually.
May 10, 2013
Thank you very much for your response. I will definitely continue to practice sitting on my heels, so that I can get use to that position. Since the pillow provided relief, I did not think to ask further questions about the pain. I will be sure to do so before we practice again. And I am not freaked out at all. I appreciate your insights and look forward to all that I am learning on this journey!
May 10, 2013
I have been continuing to practice sitting on my heels and it is getting easier every time. Thanks Shama for actually giving my modification a try...and I'm glad to hear it worked!
This week I viewed and practiced module 3 and 4 and boy do I feel great! The foot work went beautifully and each time we practiced, my partner fell asleep. The move where you place your leg under your clients and rotate their leg as you are compressing and providing traction by leaning back, was a little challenging at first. As we continued to practice, it became easier and I am feeling quite comfortable with it now. I really appreciate the reminder to conceptualize rather than memorize.
Oh yeah, I asked more questions of my partner and she expressed that her back was hurting as a result of our floor set up so I made some changes. She has reported no back pain since then. However, she did say that she sometimes has low back pain which is so common in the US that I think people believe it's just a normal part of life. I am excited to see what moves are available so that I can develop a treatment plan for her.
In the beginning it is quite normal to have some issues when squatting on the toes or sitting on the heels, etc. But with practice you get used to it soon.
When clients have pain somewhere it is always a good idea to dig a little deeper. Many times just by asking some questions you can find out a lot more than you would if you just do the massage without verbal communication.
Like your partner who has back pain in general, or someone has shoulder pain and it turns out has been doing too much weight lifting or someone with pain in the knee which is caused by a visible postural imbalance etc. A few questions can go a long way towards making the session more specific.
Sometimes the clients themselves realize after a few questions that they have some lifestyle or habitual issue which they need to change.
Throughout this course you will find lots of back techniques. In addition I am just working on what will be the largest and most comprehensive Thai back massage course on the market.
May 10, 2013
I am SUPER excited about the new back course.
As for modules 5 and 6:
I have watched both several times but must admit that I have fallen behind on practice with my partner. Allowing things at home and the increased intensity of massage school to keep me from my practice...I am definitely feeling the importance of keeping a firm schedule. However, I know that doing something, in this case, is far better than doing nothing at all. So I will be kind to myself and just get back on track...it's that simple. Hey, things come up, life happens but a positive attitude and forward movement is key. I feel really good about where I am going .
May 10, 2013
Thanks so much Shama for the support and encouragement. I practiced Module #5 last night and boy did I have an insightful experience:
I am on vacation with my family so I did not have my regular practice partner. This was very challenging for me as I am only 5 feet and 100 pounds. I practiced on my boyfriend who is 6 feet and almost 200 pounds. For the first time in my course I felt awkward, out of alignment, and honestly discouraged. None of the moves felt quite right and it was very difficult to move and stabilize his legs. I stopped half way in between to just breath and refocus. I realized I was missing a great opportunity by being so hard on myself. I can not allow myself to get used to the same body size and shape; my clients will be very diverse. Not doing something great the first time is actually a positive; it allows for growth and personal development. So...I gave it another try and felt a little better as I went along. And I am confident that it will get easier and more comfortable as I continue to practice .
Another insight I had is just how stiff and IN-flexible some people are in their hips and legs. There are things my regular partner can do that were impossible for my boyfriend. Even trying to keep his leg at a 90 degree angle was quite challenging. But again, this was very insightful and eye opening for me. I must be able to adjust my session for various body types and abilities. I am Humbled.
This was indeed an excellent lesson for you. Most of us learn more from our failures than from our successes, so therefore our challenges are our best learning tools. Your Thai Massage skills will never develop much if you only work on one person or one kind of body size or type. The real art is to be able to adjust your techniques to all kinds of sizes, weights and bodies.
And yes, there will be a number of techniques that you won't be able to do on much bigger and heavier persons. And that's exactly how it is supposed to be. Working on larger people will force you to get very good at using your body weight to its best advantage, and it will force you to learn how to be very effective with your forearms, elbows, knees and feet.
Your size and weight is quite the norm here in Thailand for female therapists, and they all work on much bigger people all the time. Trust me that it can be done. You will get better at this and you will develop specific skills for larger people. Also at the end of the Complete Thai Massage course you will receive a bonus course which shows you in even greater depth how to work effectively with all your body parts.
The other course you might consider at some point is the Hands Free Massage course which is ideal for small therapists working on large people. It's like your power equalizer.