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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon's Thai Foot Massage course notes
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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
France
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July 14, 2018 - 5:39 am
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Module 1
To help myself remember better, I tried to remember the energy lines as 'chicken feet'. I am a very visual learner so visualising a 'chicken feet' on the base of the foot helped me locate the energy lines better. Also I find the squatting position for pressing the feet quite similar to the 'crow pose' that I learnt in yoga. I was wondering if I will be equally efficient if I do not keep my feet on tip toes and I find that by tipping my toes it allows me to lean forward more, thereby applying more bodyweight.

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Shama
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July 14, 2018 - 12:52 pm
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Hi Zhao Yuan, welcome to our forum and the Thai Foot Massage certification program. Please take a moment and familiarize yourself with our certification checklist to make sure that it is all organized correctly:

Certification Checklist

If you lean forward without being on your toes, then you will be limited by the flexibility of your achilles tendon. If you are on your toes, you can lean further forward and get better leverage with more body weight.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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July 15, 2018 - 5:52 am
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Module 2
I tried the movements in this module with my husband earlier. I had to replay the video few times in order to get the positions right. My husband loved the first movement whereby we grab and press the foot. His feedback was that due to the huge area of contact between the hands and the foot, it felt less ticklish and more relaxing. He suggested that I can use this move for clients that have sensitive feet.

The second movement using knuckles had mixed feedback though. My husband said that it was quite painful when I only used the middle knuckle and he advised not to use this move as one of the beginning moves because it may shock the client. He loved it when I used 3 knuckles though.

The third movement was interesting. Now, I must tell you that my husband is physically extremely inflexible, even the kinesitherapist he went to was appalled by it. So when I tried to place his foot on my thigh in order to use my lower arm to press the base of his foot, I found that I could not! His ankle is so inflexible I could not tilt his feet. I tried the movement again with cross-legged position instead. It was a tiny bit better but I still could not get his feet to tilt much. Is there perhaps another way to do this move for clients who are super inflexible physically like my husband?

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Shama
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July 15, 2018 - 8:49 am
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Yes, there are many ways to work on the feet. You will be introduced to them throughout this course. In general, in Thai Massage many techniques can and need to be adjusted to account for different body types, weights, or degrees of flexibility. Also there are some techniques that cannot or should not be applied on some people. 

In other words, the techniques are not meant to be fixed sequences, but options to choose from.

Sometimes you can modify a technique by changing the angle, or using a pillow for support, or changing the position, and sometimes you just have to skip it and use an alternative technique.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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July 21, 2018 - 5:03 am
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Module 3
The first movement was not easy to grasp. I did many rounds and replayed the first part of the video many times. Sometimes I lost  my momentum and had to restart. But once you get the hang of it and get the momentum right, it is actually very relaxing for the massage giver and recipient. I requested for my husband to try it on me so that I could experience it myself. It feels very good if done with the proper rhythm. It is also interesting to observe that both my husband and I have one foot that tends to turn out more than the other, and that I felt mild pain and stretched when the pressure is applied to my foot that turns out less.

For the movements that followed, I find that most felt better when done with oil, the area around the ankle bone and the outer edges of the foot are so nice to massage and be massaged I could do it forever.

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July 21, 2018 - 10:12 am
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In the second section of this course you will learn how to massage the feet with oil. This clearly makes it easier to work on some areas for a longer time. 

The first section of the course is meant to be used in conjunction with Thai Massage which is done without oil, and many of those techniques don't require oil. However there is nothing wrong with using oil anyway if you feel that this would work well for you, especially if you want to do it 'forever'. Smile 

Personally, I can easily get a foot massage for two hours without feeling that it is too much, and luckily this is easy here in Thailand and very cheap as well.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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July 22, 2018 - 5:27 am
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Module 4
I like that there are many variations of the first movement to suit the preferences and needs of different clients. Personally I feel the most comfortable while lying on my side while receiving a massage, I believe there must be clients like me too. The kneeling on under the feet is one of my favourite beginning movement for an oil massage that I am providing so it is no stranger to me. But I have never tried using my feet instead of my knees before, like you mentioned in the video we really need to have a good control of the amount of body weight to apply to the client to avoid straining our client's feet. I will practise that more before using it in my massage next time.

For the movement of applying our fists on under part of the feet, may I know i it is possible to put a small pillow under the bridge of the feet for inflexible clients instead of turning their legs?

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July 22, 2018 - 3:38 pm
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Certainly, if clients are not able to turn their feet in, you can support them with a pillow. It is always important to be able to modify techniques according to the needs of a client.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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July 23, 2018 - 5:30 am
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Module 5
I like this module a lot because the movements are not difficult to grasp. My right hip opens less ever since I gave birth to my second child and I could feel the difference when I do hip openers stretches in yoga. Out of curiosity, I told my husband to try the first movement of bending the feet outwards on me the wrong way, indeed I felt great discomfort on my right knee. With the correct movement I feel a very satisfying stretch. It is really amazing how a seemingly small movement can have such a big impact on the receiver.

For the second movement of bending the feet inwards, I feel that having the feet wider apart may be more comfortable for clients that are less flexible. But personally I prefer having the feet closer together as a receiver.

For the movement of pushing the feet up, I noticed that my right wrist was feeling a bit strained (old injury) when I was pushing the feet with my forearms parallel to the mat. I was wondering if I could instead rotate my forearms inwards such that my inner forearms are facing  my ribcages? It is less straining on my wrist but I am worried that the stretch may not be as efficient for the client.

I really like the last movement for twisting the feet for stiff feet. It felt really good and it is relatively easy to do too.

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July 23, 2018 - 10:02 am
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Regarding straining your wrist - if your arms are parallel to the mat, and you place the heel of your hand against the ball of the foot, your hand should be at about a 45 degree angle to your arm. That should eliminate stress on your wrist. The main way that you stress your wrist is if you make the angle of your wrist too extreme, like a 90 degree angle. Try to lessen your wrist angle as much as possible and see if that helps. Let me know if it works for you.

The forearm rotation which you asked about would catch the foot mostly on the lateral side, making the stretch out of balance, unless you bend your wrist more in order to be able to place the heel of your hand in the center of the ball of the foot. And that defeats the purpose of it since it would again strain your wrist. Therefore I don't recommend this modification.

I have an old wrist injury myself and cannot bend it at a 90 degree angle and press strongly. However if I lessen the wrist angle to 45 degrees, I have no problem with this technique. It's just a matter of adjusting your hand positioning a bit. The lower you place the heel of your hand on the client's foot, the more you stress your wrist. If you place it right below the toes on the ball of the foot, there should be no strain.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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July 26, 2018 - 5:15 am
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Module 6
I really like the rocking technique that was taught at the beginning of this module. Personally it feels very good and soothing as a receiver. Also, I appreciate that you always give a lot of options for variations of techniques and advices for small massage therapist. Honestly,I am quite petit, like 156cm in height and 45kg, and my husband is pretty tall, 181cm and 70kg. Most of my clients are bigger than me in size so it is really important for me to master techniques that allows me to effectively use my bodyweight during the massage.

Like you, I didn't really like the toe-tugging techniques they use in Thailand. Makes me very feel uncomfortable hearing the cracking noise from my toes. I tried your method on myself and on my husband we both love it so much, and it is very good when done with a bit of cream or oil too.

Back to module 5 on the part where you advised me to lessen my wrist angle. I tried it for a couple of days on my husband and I must say it is really helpful, and less tiring on my wrist. Thank you for the advice!

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Shama
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July 26, 2018 - 5:54 pm
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I am happy to hear that my advice helped you. In general I am pretty good at diagnosing issues, even long distance, since I have seen it all countless times. Smile

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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July 29, 2018 - 7:31 pm
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Module 7
I was very enthusiatic to dive into the module today when I saw that we are beginning on the section on Thai foot reflexology. I am a big fan of Thai foot reflexology and I was very much looking forward to this part. I have a small question though, when working on the area around the malleolus of the foot, is it normal to experience some discomfort? This is because I had a client who told me that she was experiencing pain on the area around the malleolus of her right foot when I was massaging it. Personally I do not think it is due to the massage but something else because neither my husband or myself experienced any pain on this area while being massaged. In the case of this client, should I continue to massage the area with lighter pressure or should I avoid it altogether? And what could have been the cause of the pain? ( I was guessing it could be due to her wearing high heels most of the time, especially with scoliosis but I did not want to make any diagnosis)

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July 29, 2018 - 11:00 pm
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Yes, some people are quite sensitive around the malleolous. You don't need to avoid the area, though. Just lighten up a bit. What you will probably find is that many people have a bit of a sensitive reaction when you start out with the reflexology work. But if you keep doing it gently for a few minutes, generally this sensitivity will dissolve itself, and then you can even go in deeper.

You can also change techniques and use a softer body part like thumbs or heel of hand instead of the more bony side of the finger.

Regarding what causes the pain, and the high heel issue, you will be happy to know that in a few days I will release a major update for the Thai Foot Massage course which will adress these issues much more in detail. You will get this update for free.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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August 2, 2018 - 4:37 am
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Module 8
Thank you for your advices. I tried starting with my thumbs first for the area around the malleolous, then heel of hand, then bony side of finger. The feedback was much better.
I would be happy to receive the course update!

I agree that doing thai foot reflexology on the floor is a bit challenging without using a cushion under the client's feet. I learnt it the hard way and was straining my wrist so much when I was getting to the bottom part of under the feet.

I have a question regarding doing the massage while the client is sitting down. How high should we be seated in order for the massage session to be more ergonomic for us as massage therapist? I noticed that in the video, your knee level is slightly above the level of client's feet. Does the height of the stool of the massage therapist have an impact on the massage or it doesn't really matter?

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Shama
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August 2, 2018 - 1:18 pm
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Yes, the height of the stool does have an impact on your ergonomics. The stool should be quite low. If it is too high, then the angle of your wrist increases when you work on the soles of the foot, which will of course strain your wrists.

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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August 3, 2018 - 5:54 am
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Module 9
I really like that there are so many techniques without using the fingers directly! I think the knuckles are really an excellent alternative to the wooden massage stick. Since I stay in France, I also noticed that westerners, or maybe French in general, prefer without the massage stick (I had a few guinea pigs that I called over to let me practise few times a week, it is a great tool to make myself known as a massage therapist too.). My husband hates the stick because he had a very bad and painful experience in Chiang Mai and he did not enjoy the massage session at all. So I am really glad you are giving a lot of alternative techniques without the stick.

I think the heels of the hands on the bony parts of the feet and sides of feet really feel very good. Especially for clients who have never tried Thai reflexology before, it is less shocking than knuckles or the massage stick.

Finally, just a curious question, for male clients with very hairy legs, it feels quite a challenge to do gliding movements. I felt as though I could remove some hair just by running my hand up the side of their calves! And it seems like I need to put A LOT of oil to have that smooth gliding feeling. I am just curious to know if it will feel painful for the client if I don't put so much oil?

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Zhao Yuan Uchida-Pichon
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August 3, 2018 - 6:10 am
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Module 10
The percussion methods are great way to end the massage sessions if I have some extra time to spare. I was wondering if I can do percussions on the calves too?

I really enjoyed this course, especially the part on reflexology because it really helped me add a lot of new movements to my normal full body oil massage. Like you said, it is easy to use with other types of massage as well. I was wondering if there is a minimum age for clients receiving the reflexology massage? Is 4 years old too young? This is because I had a client who were expressing interest in bringing her son along to try massage. Her son is 4 years old and I would imagine a 30 minutes session maybe will be sufficient but I just wonder at what age can a kid start receiving thai massage/ reflexology?

Thank you once again for the wonderful course. I have also signed up for Heavenly head massage course, Sciatica course and Thai back massage course. Looking forward to get started with them and also looking forward to receive the course updates about the high heel shoes issues.

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Shama
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August 3, 2018 - 2:13 pm
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I have quite hairy legs as well, and often the gliding on the calves does not feel good to me or is even painful since it pulls hair. I always tell the foot massage therapists to not work on my calves. Some good ones understand the problem and they can work in such a way that they don't pull hair. But this is definitely something you have to be aware of.

It is possible to do percussion on the calves, however it had to be a different style of percussion. It is somewhat similar to the dorsal foot slapping technique. You angle the leg with the foot on the stool, and then you reach around the calf muscle with both hands and pull it alternatingly to the left and the right while slapping it with your palms. This is a very similar effect to the foot slapping technique.

Regarding minimum age - there really isn't one. Young children generally don't have any foot problems that need attention, but they can enjoy the sensation. Just do it gently as a feel-good session only. The only issue that you might encounter with children is that they are ticklish sometimes.

I will see you in the other courses! Smile 

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