I have just started the Thai Foot Massage course. Shama, your attention to detail is exquisite! I especially appreciate the hints on positioning myself in relation to my client. This is something I struggle with and feel it makes the massage I give less fluid and smooth. The more Thai massage I do, though the better I get. Knowing that using thumbs in certain positions is less effective for clients larger than myself and having options of knuckles, forearms and elbows helps tremendously!
I've used the "circling and alternating w/ thumbs" technique w/ table massage. Clients visibly relax with it and love it!
For the thumb circling and sliding up the 4 lines of the top of the foot, I like the idea of sitting between the client's feet. I was taught to do this sitting back--less leverage and more work to lean forward and lift the feet for the Vajra pt. at the base of the ankle and more work on my arms to support the motion. It's much easier to use my body in this position.
Welcome to the forum and to the foot massage course, Susan. You are right, Thai Massage is a perfect vehicle to learn how to use one's body more efficiently and in a more fluid and graceful way.The possibility of using so many body parts is what I call a massage therapist's "career saver system". No need to burn out one's thumbs or wrists.
Correct ergonomics can make a difference like between night and day for a given technique. It can be the difference between struggling or forcing a move versus easily flowing with it. I am glad you had a constructive experience in this regard right in the beginning of the course.
Yesterday a client came in with sore calves from exercise and tension in the sole of one foot. I used thumb circling and sliding along the groove between the malleolus and inner heel, then up the calves. The next pass showed me how much the tissue had released! Cool!
In the video on this technique, you didn't recommend using this on the outer part of the foot. I used the flats of my fingers and got good results. Of course, there was less pressure that could be applied with my fingers, but it was soothing. I continued up the outer claves too. Again, sitting between the client's feet to stabilized them against you while working the outer foot makes a big difference!
I have a client with a lumbar heriated disk as well as scar tissue keeping a broken coccyx attached. This is an old injury. I don't massage her mid-to-low back at all as this muscle release tends to cause her days of pain that she usually doesn't have.
Her foot on the affected side is stiff. Because of the sciatic nerve issue, what is your opinion regarding loosening the stiffness in the foot. Could this backfire through the nervous system and cause her pain? I do end her massage with simultaneous foot massage which she enjoys, but have been careful about pressure on her feet. What do you think?
Of course it is difficult to come up with a qualified answer without seeing and feeling it, however my gut feeling is that the last module of this course, the Thai Reflexology, might be the answer to this issue. This can be done very gently, and since it is done with oil or lotion it is very smooth. I would start easily and gently and build up the intensity gradually while observing how her nervous system reacts. Generally this type of foot massage is very beneficial and unlikely to cause any unwanted reactions if you start out gently.
Thank you, Shama. I will wait for Module 7 and try those techniques. She can't get on the floor, so I do table massage for her.
I've been paying special attention to body mechanics, especially the angle of my body to the client when using my thumbs. Even massing the points on the hands and circling up the fingers, I find being at an angle to the client's hand, wrapping my hand around the client's hand as much as I can and using more of the flat of my thumb is easier on the thumb joint. It also feels better to the client--less pokey.
Watching your sequencing demonstration, I am reminded to do as much as I can that is appropriate for the client while in the same position. This way, I am not constantly moving myself or the client in and out of positions to do techniques. I am sure fluidity comes with familiarity with technique and position!
That is one of the many reasons I love Thai massage--it has been described to me by clients like a wave that starts at the feet and moves up the body. Therapeutic Thai is a little different from relaxation in this regard--at least for me. There may be some communication between my client and me that doesn't occur during a therapeutic session.
Once you get to the point when you don't have to think about the techniques anymore since they have become part of you, and your ergonomics is spontaneously correct, then it will become totally fluid. I have received similar comments from clients, that they felt I was flowing around them in Thai Massage sessions.
Today I was working on a client and found myself shifting around her in ways I haven't moved before. For example, I was working up the inside of her arm in a wide kneel and, as I got close to her shoulder, I raised up my inside knee with the foot on the floor and pivoted my body to work in the pectoral muscles. This I picked up from watching Shama shifting for foot massage techniques! It happened spontaneously and naturally.
The techniques for ankles that "crack" are great! Often, a client will try to "help" me dorsiflex her feet. Sometimes, I take my hands away just to see how tightly she's bending her ankle. The tendons are standing out so tightly. So, I used the other techniques and got better results with a relaxed ankle and foot.
Clients don't always realize they are helping and some can't seem to stop helping the movement. It makes it more difficult for the therapist and I stop using certain techniques with certain clients for concern one of us will get muscle strain; it feels like we're wrestling each other!
Haha, you are wrestling each other - that's a good one . But I know exactly what you mean. The compulsive 'helpers'... I normally tell them that they are trying to 'help' me, and I work with them on that particular move until they become aware enough of the 'helping' and they stop doing it. In other words I don't let them get away with it since it defeats the purpose of what I am doing.
I do more than making them aware verbally. I use an entire system retraining the muscles and changing cell memory. This can be quite a piece of work since the client has to work with me. I have them breathe into the area, do visualizations, mentally talk to their affected body part and other things. However I only do this when I feel that the client is ready to work with me. If I don't feel that, I notice their resistance and just let it go without trying to 'fix' it. We cannot 'fix' everything, and not every client is ready to do what it takes.