Rather than modern science and intuition being opposite ends of a spectrum, knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics can help to deepen your intuition, assist in understanding “why”, “what” and “how”, improve professional vocabulary and inform treatment plans to help clients truly get better.
For most of us, when we think of Thai Massage, our minds fill with beautiful images of passive yoga postures, a relaxing meditative flow, and the many creative ways that we can use our bodies to apply pressure during a massage. These thoughts certainly describe the “art” of our practice, and are some of the very aspects that give our clients an experience unique to most other types of bodywork. When we approach our massages with Metta (ie. loving-kindness and compassion) we allow ourselves to really tune in, and “hear” what the body is telling us in each session. What is sometimes overlooked however, is the importance of us understanding the actual science behind our work. Intuition and sensitivity of touch are wonderful guides to interpreting signals from the body about what it needs, however a deeper knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics will help us create a more complete picture of what is happening beneath the skin, and how we can best use our skill (and art) to help each client maintain or restore optimal function.
The human body is full of fascinating tissues and structures that each have a story to tell. When we study Anatomy, we gain an understanding of the “what” – that is, the structures of the body, and how they are arranged. We locate important bones, tendons, and ligaments, giving us the basis to understand each of the major joints in the body. Learning about the muscles and fascia helps us understand and explain the force-tension relationships that may affect our client’s overall mobility. It is also helpful for us to know the location of key nerves and blood vessels, and how they relate to our choices of technique and pressure during a massage.
Physiology is the science that teaches us about the “how” – the ways that all of these structures function, and also how they interact with the other systems of the body. This is where we discover what causes muscles to contract, how the tissues develop adhesions or scars, and the ways in which each of our quality touch techniques work to relieve muscular tension.
Learning biomechanics helps us to understand how the body moves and physically supports itself, by applying concepts of physics to the action of each joint on its own, as well as its relationship with other joints. We are able to take a much closer look at the factors that contribute to or possibly hinder a client’s mobility, and in doing so we understand what the body truly needs. It can help explain the “why” – why am I feeling tension in one region of the body based on an understanding of someone’s occupation..?
When we combine these three sciences together, we are essentially learning the science of human movement, which is also known as Kinesiology. Although this may sound like a complex term, Kinesiology simply pulls together our knowledge of structure, form and function of the body as a whole.
With these powerful tools in hand, we can approach each massage treatment with a humble confidence, having discovered more about how the body functions from the inside out. We continue to work with metta and flow, allowing ourselves to be guided by a more informed intuition as we use each of our Thai Massage techniques. Our compassionate and meditative approach is coupled with an educated application of touch, and our conversations become seasoned with professional vocabulary. All of these elements not only build our credibility as practitioners, but more importantly, empower our clients with a deeper, richer understanding of their own bodies after interacting with us!
Be sure to keep an eye out for some upcoming online anatomy and physiology training!
Always keep exploring,