Here is some video of a Thai Stretching Session that I did with one of my vocational massage students. I have broken it up into small sequences so that you can choose the ones that might interest you most. This was a pretty casual routine and my posture could have been a lot better, so just be careful to keep your back as straight as possible and do as much lifting with your legs as possible.
I have broken this down by the position that your partner will be in when you are stretching them and I will keep adding more details about the muscle groups being stretched over the next couple of weeks. I will also be adding a section that is broken down with specific stretched for specific muscle groups soon as well.
Warning, Warning, Warning......
This is intended to be more of a review for people who have attended a Thai Massage/Stretching Workshop. Please be very careful attempting any of these stretches with anyone. They are very dynamic and you can hurt your partner if you are not careful and/or if their body is not able to accept the stretches it is being asked to. You can also hurt yourself giving these stretches if you are not careful. If you are not sure if you can give or receive these stretches without injury please do not try them. You can forward them to your health care provider to get their opinion on your participation in these stretches.
This is how I usually start a Thai Stretching session. A very simple raising of both legs, always supporting the joints you are moving, and then continuing over to a pretty deep plough pose. Susan is a really flexible partner, most people will not stretch that far. Please remember that when you are working on your partner :-)
The first part (Double Leg Bend) stretches the hips, low back, glutes, backs of legs and calves.
The second part (Plough) stretches the entire back of legs, glutes and the neck.
This short sequence focuses on the hips, especially the external rotators and then the glutes and some low back muscles as well.
All of these stretches are Figure 4s (modifications of the pigeon pose in yoga) and will stretch the backs of the legs, the glutes, the hip and the low back depending on how the stretch is applied and where your partner is tightest,
Hip Sequence. Hip openers, inside thighs (adductors), outside thighs (IT Band area) glutes, external rotators. Go slow and check in with your partner frequently :-)
This straight leg stretch can be very challenging for the receiver so go very slow as you enter it. It can be really challenging for the hip rotators, glutes and IT Band. If it gets to be too intense for your partner, let their leg bend at the knee to ease the tension.
This sequence is sort of a free flow of checking for tension in the legs, hips, waist and thorax.
Working much deeper in this sequence. Since Susan is so flexible I need to find ways to make her levers (limbs, etc.) bigger, more complex and use more body weight compressions as well. Remember to be very careful when trying any of these with your partner.
Partner Laying on Their Side
This is a beautiful trunk and hip rotation/stretch. It is important to keep your back very straight and lift with your legs only. Have your partner relax their head and be careful when lowering them back to the floor.
More free flow here working on her triceps, side (lats, serratus, etc.), shoulder, hips. Do not put pressure on your partner's neck with your hands or feet (like I do at the end) without professional. licensed training. You could severely injure them.
Just feeling for tension and stretching/compressing to challenge it.
Careful with your knees in the back, always try to make them soft, never put them on the spine and use softer parts of your legs when you can. The upper thorax stretch at 56 seconds can be a lot too handle. In the trunk rotations (at about 1:30 for example) the hand on her back is rotating her, but it is also trying to push her ribs in and shoulders/chest up.
One of my favorite stretches! If you did this in the workshop, remember not to pull with your arms, it is all in the hips! Also remember to hold your partner’s hand when you are done to make sure they stay upright and are not lightheaded. If you did not do this in the workshop, I would have a spotter the first couple of times you try it :-)
I am just showing off here, this one is hard to get and you can hurt your partner trying it. Try using a pillow between your knees and your partner’s back at first and go from there....
OK, now we are both showing off! Actually this is probably easier to do than the stretch above. It is more along the Acro-Yoga lines. But it feels great if you can pull it off. Did I mention that having a spotter is a great idea?
Ahhh, nothing like knees in the glutes! If your partner has any low back issues, skip these all together. Intense stretching from the tops of the knees to the base of the neck.
Just another example of feeling for tension and then finding creative ways to stretch your partner to help lengthen the restricted areas. I do not think any of these are taught as classic Thai Massage techniques, they just felt right at the time...
Nice stretches for the legs, fronts of the knees, hips, groin and stomach muscles. I have to be creative and work a little harder to get a stretch on Susan in these areas (in most areas actually) so tone down the intensity and range until you find what your partner needs and enjoys.
Again being creative and working a little harder to create a stretch for Susan where she needs it. A lot of your partner stretching will just get to be intuitive as you do more of it. That is one of the things I really enjoy about these techniques; they are so adaptable.
And again, and again and again.... Just want to make sure you get the idea that you do not need to know a lot of fancy names for the stretches or even the muscles you are stretching. Just ask your partner where they feel tight, then try to get a feel for that tightness and figure out a safe way to stretch your partner. It is fun, healthy and can also draw you closer with your friends or life partners!
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Joe Lavin, LMT, CPT CEIM, AOBT
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