• Jenny Walker

Stretch It Out

Last Thursday saw me back in Brighton, the town where my oldest bro lives, but also the place where I spent the best part of five years working through my B-tech level 6 in Advanced Clinical Massage and my Advanced Anatomy diploma.

The Jing Institute of Advanced Massage Therapy is a space that I liken to a cocoon - I went to mush there as I spent time developing into a rather kick ass butterfly, and since I qualified from the school in 2013, I have flown. I owe Rachel Fairweather and Megan Mari so much.

It was a delight to head back to the class room to meet up with Meg as she took us through a energetic day of basic Thai Massage Stretching principles this month.

Stretching, as a technique, is not done much during the standard European based massage approach. It's a shame, as passive stretching can free my client's range of motion, promote fresh energy flow, improve all over functionality and allow the fascia, (connective tissues) to release from contracted points of stress and impact.

I think there can be a mental block in massage therapy, which can sound very much like this:

"My client is lying down on a couch and wants to relax; therefore I cannot move them as it would be an inconvenience".

Personally, I see that every client who comes to see me wants to feel better. Pain needs to go, stress needs to release out, and movement needs to be improved. Energy also needs to be recharged and either calmed down or increased out of a stagnant pool of "meh".

Stretching, done well, can be the absolute icing on the massage cake. To feel the body moved into safe positions that will encourage a fresh state of being free within the form is pure magic, and I encourage it as much as possible. I enjoy it in the 3D format of side lying or lying on your tummy or back on the couch. Movement is freedom, so let's move!

The one aspect to Thai Stretching that I love is that it encourages therapists to get on the couch, which is why I invested in a wide plinth back in 2008. I can stand, kneel and move on the treatment table and I am not stuck to the floor, which makes the stretches safe for me as well as for you; there are no injuries happening to either of us.

Seeing new therapists realise that they don't have to stay on concrete is always a joy and last week there where many smiles and a lot of laughter as therapists grew a couple of feet taller!

There was a lot that I enjoyed refreshing my mind on, and some new techniques that are now in the toolbox. There was some lovely quad stretches that I will certainly bring back into the sessions, including the trifold stretch, which is a very gentle, but profound way of encouraging all quads to be stretched in harmony. The earth grounding ankle movements and the deep spinal twists are both delightful to give and receive and I have been thrilled to use them all over the past few days here in the studio.

One of the most pleasurable points in the days was to get a massage with Hernan, who is so good at massage and to be treated by him was just a treat. Working with him in the school room again was also a total giggle! To meet up and share a little of the past six years journey since we qualified was one of the best moments.

I will be going back for some one-day classes for sure, both at Jing and other institutes that offer a wide range of viewpoints on the every evolving subject of holistic health and wellbeing. I think regular investment in education is key to a successful treatment studio, and I am delighted to be able to keep making sure that I am offering you all the best possible massage sessions here at Cornerstone Therapies.

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