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Tracy River's Thai Massage Shoulder Therapy Certification notes
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Tracy River
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November 4, 2021 - 11:10 pm
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Module 1

Although I am feeling much more confident about my ability to perform Thai massage than I was with Complete Thai massage course, it was nice to start this module with some techniques that were mostly familiar to me. I practiced last night on my boyfriend, Chris and was reminded of why I stopped working only on him for my last course. His response to everything was "fine" or "ok".

Because I did practice these on Chris last night and was feeling confident in my ability to perform these techniques, I practiced them on a table massage client this morning who had complained of shoulder discomfort. I had to modify a little bit and my ergonomics weren't as great as if I had been on the floor but the techniques went really well. I started with gentle palm circling, used the palm rocking techniques to get in a little deeper without causing pain then used the thumb rocking a to go even deeper and more precise. I finished with palm circling again to flush the area and "make nice" with the tissues. I could tell there was a nice relaxing of the front of her shoulders after completing this and her shoulders lay more flat on the table instead of being pulled forward. I found that working on the table with these techniques that the sideways shoulder rocking was more comfortable for me than the back and forth rocking. I turned my body facing away from the client a tiny bit and my hand just seemed to fit a little better there.

I did not practice the figure 8 on Chris because he is too heavy for me to comfortably lift or on my table client today because it seemed too awkward. I have done this in my full body thai massages and everyone raves about it!

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November 5, 2021 - 8:58 pm
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Welcome back, Tracy! 

I see that you still remember how to navigate the forum. Smile

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Tracy River
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November 6, 2021 - 6:01 pm
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Yes, I watched the video on how to post just to make sure I remembered correctly and nothing had changed! You have done an excellent job at providing all of the information needed. Smile

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November 6, 2021 - 6:32 pm
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Module 2

I practiced this module on Chris last night. I started on his right shoulder and it took me a little bit to get the correct motion with the Sandwich Shoulder Circling technique. I was mentally thinking to keep the motion in the same plane as the mat but I didn't feel like I was getting as much motion in the shoulder as you did in the video. I had better results when I moved to his other shoulder so I think it's a combination of his right shoulder being tighter than the left and me just needing to practice the technique more. 

With the Elbow Circling Above the Shoulder, I was completely doing it wrong to start. I usually watch the video and take notes and while I'm watching I go back and watch the same techniques a couple of times before moving forward with the module. I was trying this technique and it didn't feel right. It took me a minute to realize that I had made an assumption in my note taking that I would remember how to do this technique because it's familiar to me. So, I wrote posterior shoulder when I should have written Deltoid or arm. Once I moved off trying to do this on his Traps and to his actual shoulder it went great and felt very natural.

The other tricky spot for me with this module is the Push-Pull Shoulder Stretch. I definitely struggled with this one. I am going to practice this one on someone smaller as I found Chris' arm very heavy. I didn't really feel like I was getting the stretch for him and my coordination on it was non-existent.  I have my weekly clients scheduled for tomorrow morning and there is one in particular that is great with me trying new techniques on her. I'm going to see if she'll let me fumble through this with her in trade for some extra massage time.

The other techniques presented in this module went really well!

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November 7, 2021 - 5:33 am
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It's great to have a client who doesn't mind being a guinea pig! 

I guess there is no success without a little stumbling and fumbling. Laugh

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Tracy River
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November 27, 2021 - 1:57 am
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Shoulder Therapy Module 3

I had to practice this module in tiny increments so it has taken me a while to do this forum post because I really wanted to practice the Therapeutic Arm Throwing before I wrote my notes. After waiting so long and not coming across the person I felt comfortable practicing this on, I realized I could practice it on my 2 children. My son is 6 and after tossing his arm a few times, I stopped and he immediately went to flop his arm in the other direction. I thought maybe this is a natural thing but my daughter (who is 8) did not do this. When I stopped, her arm stopped. This technique felt much better to perform than I had expected. Partially maybe because my kids are still young and flexible and light but, now, I can't wait to try it on my clients! 

Also, this module helped me see the Shoulder Rowboat in a new light. I have watched the Complete Thai Massage video containing this move several times but in practice, it never really felt right so I have been leaving it out. I tried again after watching this module and it feels much better now. I think previously I just wasn't getting the side of my foot in there at the right angle.

I love the shaking and rocking techniques and incorporate them even in my table massages! They really do help loosen up tight muscles and help re-educate clients who are constantly holding their limbs unconsciously. 

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November 27, 2021 - 3:35 am
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I am glad that the shoulder rowboat is working now. And yes, the shaking and rocking techniques are always winners. I couldn't even imagine doing a massage without them.

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Tracy River
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February 18, 2022 - 2:28 am
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Shoulder Therapy Module 4

Hello, Shama! Sorry for my long absence. I was having some knee trouble that I had to resolve before I could try some of the techniques in this module. Nothing serious with my knee but I was having severe pain and joint locking in it if I bent it greater than 90 degrees. Fortunately, it seems to be resolved for the most part and I was able to do a 90-minute Thai massage this week pain free. I hope all is well with you and your family!

The beginning techniques in this module were pretty familiar from the Complete Thai Course and comfortable for me to perform. I still can't get the Squeeze Circle Combo Move or Double Squeeze Combo Move to flow smoothly even after trying it several times both on the table and on the mat. It's funny how that works. Some things that seem so simple watching you, are really hard for me, other things that look really complicated end up being easy. I'm going to keep practicing these techniques though, it looks like it will feel amazing once I get it down.

I postponed these notes until I finally had the chance to practice some of the techniques shown later in the video. I was able to try the Prone shoulder Rotation and the Prone Shoulder Downward Stretch on my client who is also a massage therapist. both of these techniques felt very natural and Kim said she felt a great shoulder relief after the massage. I was unable to do the Prone Shoulder Backwards Rotation on her, it seemed like it was too strong when I tried it. Kim said it was fine but her voice sounded strained, so I transitioned to the Prone shoulder Circles instead. She really liked this move and raved about it when I took it a little further into an upper body twist.

The day after doing this full body 90-minute Thai massage on the mat, I called Kim to check in with how she was feeling. She said she was a little sore like she had worked out. I get that response from some clients and didn't think much of it since I am moving them in ways they don't normally move on a daily basis. I have assumed this would be expected and it doesn't seem to trouble my clients. I am wondering now though, if am I getting that response because I am over working clients? I always check in during stretches to find if it is too much and adjust accordingly. I know it's hard to judge without getting or seeing my massages, but I would appreciate any insights you have about this.

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February 18, 2022 - 7:46 am
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Welcome back, Tracy. I am glad to hear that your knee issue has been resolved.

Regarding your question about sore clients - I would suggest that you try to do a gentler version of your massage and focus more on flow and quality of touch. Then check what kind of feedback you are getting after such sessions. There is a fine line between doing sessions too gently, aka 'fluff' sessions, and doing them too strongly which can result in soreness.

I know that there are some Thai Massage therapists who take pride in doing strong work and dismiss client soreness as an unavoidable consequence. I don't quite agree with this. Yes, a Thai Massage session should be a little bit challenging to overcome stiffness and resistance, and some people are so locked up that it is hard to avoid a little soreness. 

But in general, for clients who are not super sensitive or extremely locked up, soreness is not something that we should aspire to. If you get this sore reaction from just one sensitive client, that might be okay. If, however, you get this reaction from several clients, then I suggest to dial the intensity down a bit, do more warming moves and more rocking.

Ultimately only experience with several clients and experimenting with intensity will provide the answer to this issue. But definitely at least try a softer approach to see how it works.

I have had clients who were super sensitive and could hardly handle any stretches. I have also had clients who took an almost perverse pleasure in being stretched to the extreme and to the maximum endurance of their pain threshold.

In the end we should be able to handle and accommodate both types of clients and everyone in between.

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Tracy River
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February 22, 2022 - 12:46 am
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Shoulder Therapy Module 5

Thank you so much for your thoughtful insights. I will try your suggestions about a gentler approach with more massage and rocking and I think this will help immensely.  I want my clients to feel relaxed, more mobile, and energized after a session not sore.

I am still trying to find my "flow" with all of the techniques available to choose from. I find that I am still too much in my head thinking about what techniques to use on which client and how to transition from one thing to the next smoothly, and how little time I have left (because it goes so quickly while I'm working!) and so many other things. I have had a couple of times that months have passed between practicing Thai Massage, and I feel almost like I have to start all over getting my groove back. After this last absence, it isn't as difficult but still I can feel that I haven't mastered any of it well enough yet.  I remind myself that reviewing the videos and a few hundred Thai Massages will get me there, eventually! In the meantime, I am going to work on breathing, letting my body do the work, checking in with my clients, and letting my mind flow with the movements. Hopefully, if I am not as mentally stiff and wholly relaxed and focused on a gentle flow, with warming and rocking techniques that segue into gentle stretches where appropriate, this will help me not overworking clients.

For Module 5, I was able to practice on my good friend, Doris. She's a retired massage therapist who loves Thai massage after receiving several practice sessions from me. She has commented that it seems so much more therapeutic than table massage. The techniques presented here were familiar from the Complete Thai massage course, but I am really glad I practiced with a friend instead of a client. I don't always practice in side position so I haven't done these techniques in quite a while. I was completely awkward trying to remember how to place my hands and body for the Rotate Shoulder Back While Leaning on Trap. I had to switch myself around a couple times and then think through what I was trying to accomplish before I figured it out. I don't know what is with my brain always trying to make this more difficult than it is. This is a really nice move, especially with the Circling Trap version. I was able to also practice the Power Version on Doris and she said it felt great! I have another session scheduled with Doris on Friday and hopefully will be able to practice module 6 on her then.

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February 22, 2022 - 6:59 am
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"Reviewing the videos and a few hundred Thai Massages will get me there, eventually!" That's exactly the recipe! The day will come when you will wonder how you ever found it difficult. Laugh

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Tracy River
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March 7, 2022 - 8:03 pm
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Shoulder Therapy Module 6

Practice for this module went really well. I worked on my friend Doris. She had a mastectomy years ago and still has a lot of adhesions and limitations from the surgery. She particularly liked the Shoulder and Arm Traction where I leaned into the armpit area while tractioning her arm overhead. She said she could really feel it loosening everything up. She also really enjoyed the Rolling the Scapula over Fingertips while Pulling Scapula Back technique. This one felt more comfortable for me to perform then Rolling the scapula over the thumb technique. I can see how different techniques will work better for different clients. After performing the Swing Arm Back Behind Head while pushing Shoulder Forward technique, I personally can't wait to get someone to try this on me. I will definitely be incorporating it in many of my Thai Massage sessions. It seems like such a great way to relax the Trapezius and Rhomboid area while helping to reset pectoral length at the same time.

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March 7, 2022 - 8:26 pm
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"I can see how different techniques will work better for different clients."  -  Exactly, that's why I created these specialty courses with tons of techniques - not to use them all on everyone, but to have lots of choices for various needs. The more options we have, the better we can finetune our treatments. Smile

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Tracy River
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March 16, 2022 - 3:41 am
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Shoulder Therapy Module 7

I practiced this module as part of a 90-minute Thai Massage. I didn't want to stop and put socks on during the massage, so I started the treatment with socks already on. I haven't practiced with socks on before and I was surprised how slippery this made me on the sheet I had on my mat. I found it hard to get the right traction at first and it's definitely something I'll keep in mind in the future. 

I really liked using my heel on the traps and struggled with the foot on neck until I realized that I hadn't moved my body to 45 degrees. Once I positioned myself correctly it went much better! My practice parner was a pretty large man but he didn't have much visible neck so I didn't spend much time with this move.

Using my forearm on the back of Lester's arm felt very natural. I did have him lay facedown on the pillows as soon as I turned him over.

I've started using the pillow under the torso and a pillow under the forehead of most of my clients. So many of my clients are not very flexible that I've found it better to start them this way as soon as I turn them over. For whatever reason, it seems people are more likely to ask the pillows to be removed than to ask for them when offered. I guess it goes with the way people are more likely to ask for more pressure than to say it is too much.

I've been using a lot more rocking and percussion techniques and this seems to have solved my problem of making my clients feel sore the next day. Thank you!

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March 16, 2022 - 7:39 am
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"I've been using a lot more rocking and percussion techniques and this seems to have solved my problem of making my clients feel sore the next day."  -  That's one of the big advantages of rocking moves, and of percussion, that they almost never cause soreness or even discomfort, unless they are applied absolutely brutally.

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April 6, 2022 - 3:01 am
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Shoulder Therapy Module 8

It felt like a long time waiting to make this post. I practiced this module, gently, on my friend Betty to start with. She has very thin arms so I wanted to wait until I practiced it also, on my client Lester.

When practicing on Betty, I was reminded again that no matter how many times I go over the techniques, there are often surprises of things I didn't pay enough attention to while watching the video. This time, it was where to put my hands while using the knee techniques in supine position. I didn't really feel I needed them for balance but she is small enough, there didn't seem a good place to place them on her for added contact. Obviously, I won't choose knee techniques on someone her size regularly. She loved the tractioning/stretching techniques and said she didn't feel like my leg was putting too much pressure on the back of her arm or shoulder.

I love the knee techniques on someone the size of my client Lester. He tends to be very tight and sore so I only needed to apply a little knee pressure. It felt like zero work for me to do and he said it felt great, just the right amount of pressure. I also like the width of my knee seems just right for applying a general pressure without being too pin pointed or narrow like the heel of my hand or my boney forearms. I meant to do the shoulder tractioning on Lester but flowed right past when I wanted to do it. I thought about it for a minute while I was working but didn't immediately think of a smooth way to go back so I thought I'll just skip it this time and give it a try when I work on him next month. Smile

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April 6, 2022 - 7:45 am
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"It felt like zero work for me to do."  - Isn't it great - how many massage styles are there where you can do powerful work and it feels like zero work! Smile

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April 12, 2022 - 2:57 am
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Shoulder Therapy Module 9

I really enjoy the Putting It All Together Modules, it helps me so much to watch how you flow from one technique to the next. It's so relaxing to just watch you work!

Thank you so much for all of the fantastic information provided in your courses. I will continue to come back to review the information so that I won't become stagnant in the techniques I use. I really enjoy creating a custom Thai Massage for my clients and their unique needs.

I have a colleague that is interested in learning Thai massage, and I couldn't recommend your course enough. Her name is Hannah Green. I'm not sure when she was planning on taking courses but, I hope she contacts you soon!

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April 12, 2022 - 9:34 am
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Thanks, I appreciate the referral.

Reviewing all the information is really important. So many course students told me that they always find something they had missed the first time around when they re-watch the modules.

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