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Willow Weir - Thai Shoulder Massage Course Notes
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WillowWeir
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March 13, 2018 - 1:50 am
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Module 1

 

I am currently working through module 1. Most of the techniques are fairly new to me and straightforward. I was having a little trouble with the figure 8 stretch on the shoulders . I found my partners hands to be swinging around and the more rotation in the shoulder the more likely he was to "hit" me if he was very relaxed. I tried in various ways to just work in the shoulder with less rotation but still saw a lot of movement in the hands and lower arms. Is this normal? In the video the model is smaller so I wasn't sure if that was affecting the results. For reference I am a 5"10 female and my partner was a 6"2 male. I will be heading in to the studio soon to practice with some other victims so I will check from there. 

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Shama
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March 13, 2018 - 9:27 am
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Hi Willow, welcome to the Thai Shoulder course certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification check list to make sure that it is all correctly organized:

Certification Check List

It is true that during the figure 8 move the arms tend to move, especially when clients have somewhat limited ROM in their shoulders. You won't find this with clients who have more flexibility in their shoulders.

There are two ways to deal with this. One is that you need to limit the extent of the move so that the arms do not move excessively. They will always move some, but you should try to avoid lifting the hands off the mat, or at least only a little bit. In other words, you need to limit the degree of the vertical lift element of the move. And second, it helps if you slow the move down a little.

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March 13, 2018 - 9:51 pm
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Thank you! I will continue to work with this. I practiced on two other people so far and it was very well received! The elephant walk in particular was a bigger chest opener than I expected with what seemed like a small movement. 

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March 16, 2018 - 6:23 pm
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Module 2

I felt like there was a lot more material in Mod 2. I practiced a couple of times now but am having trouble remembering all of the moves in practice because the first few seem very similar when I read my course notes but have different aims. I was surprised how much enjoyment my receivers got from the finger tip wiggling. Smile

The push pull movement with the shoulder/ elbow still feels a little foreign, I think I need to play with it some more as I feel like something is still a little off. I am not sure if my fear of hurting someone in that movement is affecting my ability to really work with it. 

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March 16, 2018 - 7:12 pm
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It's better to be a little afraid to hurt someone when you are learning new techniques than being 'a bull in a China shop' and going in with the stretches full power. After a while you will figure out how far you can go without hurting anyone. Until then it is better to be safe than sorry. The best way to learn how far you can go is by asking for client feedback.

It is perfectly normal that some techniques feel a little clumsy and uncoordinated initially. Just keep practicing them until you get a good feel for them.

Also don't worry about not remembering all the techniques right away. It would be a miracle if you could remember them all right away! Laugh

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WillowWeir
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March 16, 2018 - 8:33 pm
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Shama said
It's better to be a little afraid to hurt someone when you are learning new techniques than being 'a bull in a China shop' and going in with the stretches full power. After a while you will figure out how far you can go without hurting anyone. Until then it is better to be safe than sorry. The best way to learn how far you can go is by asking for client feedback.

It is perfectly normal that some techniques feel a little clumsy and uncoordinated initially. Just keep practicing them until you get a good feel for them.

Also don't worry about not remembering all the techniques right away. It would be a miracle if you could remember them all right away! Laugh  

"bull in a china shop" LaughLaughLaughLaugh

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March 16, 2018 - 8:37 pm
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Module 3

 

again I enjoyed this module and I think the concepts were a little easier to grasp. I love the tractioning.  The triangle stretching is so great to use with my yoga students! We are always working on ways to increase shoulder flexibility in order to flip your grip in many yoga poses and this one is perfect! The rowboat technique cleared up some questions for me as this was a move used in another training I took but it wasn't as detailed, it was more along the lines of stick foot in armpit , press and pull , The detail helps so much. I haven't tried the arm throw yet but I am looking forward to it. I suspect some laughter from clients. 

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March 16, 2018 - 9:54 pm
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So you are going to practice this right away on actual clients? Then I hope they are easy-going types. Laugh

The arm throw doesn't have any real effect on people who are relaxed already. But it can work miracles on people who are totally unable to relax their shoulder.

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March 16, 2018 - 10:07 pm
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My spouse is always willing and so are my team at the studio, but I have some pretty hilarious photos of our front desk guy letting me practice on him.Laugh Some of my other long term clients I am offering to add 15 minutes to their session for some "new" stuff and that is always a win.  

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Shama
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March 16, 2018 - 10:15 pm
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It sounds like you have a good setup and guinea pig base! Smile

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March 22, 2018 - 11:22 pm
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Module 4

 

Its funny starting this module because as soon as I started doing the palm circles I thought "why didn't I think of that".  And this was the same with the loose fist tapotement. All the material looks pretty easy until you try to remember it in the practice (at least this mod).  With the moves that require straddling the body is there any way to avoid resting on the client? It didn't seem like a issues to my client but based on body size I couldn't stay up high enough and still be comfortable.  My favorite move in this series was the kneading dough with the "squeeze pull rotate forward" as there seems a lot of comfortable variations. Additionally it seemed in some of the later stretches you could even be on the opposite side of the body and reach over for a bigger twist. 

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March 22, 2018 - 11:41 pm
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Module 5

 

I was lucky to have a couple snow days to work this week. 🙂 

 

So the side lying is my favorite ways to work on shoulders and neck and I always felt I could sit beside the client and easily hook my hand around the shoulders and get a great stretch. The expansion in this section was super helpful. I did find these movements more complicated though and can see where a lot more practice is needed. So the first question that came to mind is when going from circling shoulders with trap moves (just shoulders) to adding a stretch to it what is the benefits to starting with shoulder only versus circling with stretch and just moving slowly?  I still appreciate so much all the focus you give on using your whole body. It is funny because I "think" I am doing that but then all of the sudden I start muscling into the move

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March 23, 2018 - 10:29 am
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Regarding your question about straddling your client - Do you mean that you feel that you are too close to the client, or is the issue that you have difficulty straddling the client because of your size? If it's the first one, you don't have to worry about it since after all the client is lying face down and doesn't even know what exactly you are doing.

If it's the second one, the only issue could arise if the client is very large and you have very short legs. If you encounter a situation where you are physically not able to straddle someone, just skip that move on that person. Remember that all the techniques are options to choose from, not mandatory sequences. Not every technique will work equally well on every client.

Just don't allow yourself to worry about the client thinking that you are too close to them. In general clients don't care about that as long as you are professional and effective. Thai Massage does require close contact for some techniques, but since clients are fully dressed, this is really not an issue.

Regarding your second question - there is no one right way of doing this. Ultimately the idea is that you have a large variety of techniques at your disposal, and then you can intuitively and creatively build your sessions to suit your clients. For some clients you will use gentler techniques, for some you will use more intense ones, depending on their body.

The idea is not that you use every technique on every client in every session. This is not meant to be a fixed sequence, but options to choose from, depending on the circumstances. So don't over-analyze the benefits of one technique over the other. In the end it comes down to working on someone's shoulders until you and the client feel more relaxation, better range of motion, or a reduction in pain. It will always be the sum of your techniques that accomplish that, not one or two particular ones.

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WillowWeir
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March 23, 2018 - 7:47 pm
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Great , thank you! In general I don't find that my clients mind me being very close. In fact my partner actually liked me sitting on his lower back while doing some of the shoulder work but I do have a tendency to "overthink" and consider right or wrong vs doing just what works. 

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March 26, 2018 - 4:57 am
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Module 6 

 

My partner truly enjoyed these stretches and I found them fairly easy to perform as some are similar to some side stretches that I do regularly and really like. ALthough the video gave me more confidence in really working under the scapula especially with scooping the fingers under. I find that my thumb get tired easily using the thumb so I prefer the fingers.  Although my partner did enjoy the scapula work and also carrying the pressure down the side of the body working from spine towards side of ribs. The  kneading in armpit felt very seamless and something I can imagine using frequently. 

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March 26, 2018 - 5:01 am
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Module 7

 

I was able to watch this video and practice already and I love these techniques. Like you I haven't had an issue using my feet with clients but occasionally I make a joke " didn't know you were paying someone to step on you" a little levity helps at times.  My question for you is do you always prop your clients when they are prone since you aren't using a face cradle? Do you think you should inquire first or just prop everyone?  I appreciated the addition of the 1-10 method in these videos as I see it being effective.  Although these are listed as power techniques I can see all of these methods being helpful, particularly later in a long session such as 2 hours where I am tired. 🙂

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March 26, 2018 - 9:21 am
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I don't automatically prop all clients. If I see that someone is rather flexible I might offer it as an option just in case, but only if they prefer it - and not all do. If I see that someone is rather stiff, then I definitely prop them. On not so stiff-necked clients I sometimes just use a little pillow as a wedge so that the head is not turned 90 degrees sideways, but only around 60 degrees or so. That can often be enough.

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March 30, 2018 - 10:22 pm
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Module 8

 

I am enjoying the use of the other parts of my body other than my hands. However the knee has been a little scary for me. My balance is pretty good but just trying to find a good pacing isn't feeling normal yet. With my hands the flow feels effortless and easy , and with my forearm, but when I transfer to using the knee I feel uncoordinated. In these stretches the other issue I am having is finding enough space to work, with so much restriction in shoulders it is almost like I am trying to fit my knee into a space that a knee can't fit well yet. Hopefully that makes sense. I need to practice my propping also, to make this more seamless so it doesn't take the client out of the flow so I need to work on the transitions into these poses. Lifting arm isn't bad but when you have to lift shoulder and part of body I still feel clunky

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March 30, 2018 - 11:20 pm
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That's quite normal that you feel a bit clunky with the knee. Most therapists have never used them before, and it does take some time to get a feeling for this. However the knee is very useful for quite a range of Thai Massage techniques, and it is well worth it to practice it until it feels natural to you. It is true that you have to be quite precise where you place your knee so that you don't press on bone unnecessarily, however you will probably find that clients like it, while you are worried about hurting them. Laugh

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March 31, 2018 - 9:21 am
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Yes I used it a little on the forearm today, I've used it on the hamstring before, that seems a little less scary. Laugh

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