What is Thai Massage?

by Robert Gardner

People often ask me about what Thai massage is and licensed massage therapists want to know how it’s going to benefit them in their practice. Thai massage is still working on a western identity and while I can’t speak for everyone else I can tell you that Thai massage is the most diverse and beneficial practice of massage and bodywork I’ve ever encountered. Much like massage itself it can be applied to a wide swathe of the population and when I say it’s effective I’m saying I’ve seen someone walk in on crutches and walk out carrying them after working with me.

Thai massage is:

  • more biomechanically effective for the therapist
  • saves your hands
  • allows you to use more pressure with less effort
  • means you can do longer sessions for larger fees
  • is more transformative for your clients
  • blends well with any other kind of work you do or on a table
  • allows you help common client complaints like low back pain easily

Watch my video with the MassageNerd:


Thai massage allows a deeper use of pressure than any other massage form I’ve seen while also creating the greatest potential for movement in a terrestrial environment. This pressure doesn’t always come from hands, thus saving them, but also from extensive use of knees and feet in session. Compared to what most licensed massage therapists practice my work feels like mixed martial arts. In session there are no rules, my opponent is pain and with every movement I’m doing my best to take out my opponent with any tool necessary while exerting the least amount of effort. It’s easy on me and remarkable to clients.

Students who observe my work have commented that it reminds them of Brazilian jujitsu or some other martial art. In effect, compared to what most are doing Thai massage done my way is the perfect balance of client communication, effective pressure and proper body mechanics. Intro to Thai massage and Table Thai are my starter courses to give you a solid foundation in the work. I look forward to working with you.

Learn more at the Introduction to Thai Massage workshop with Robert Gardner on April 24-25. CLICK HERE to register today!

Meet Our Teachers: Christopher Fritel

11.01.FacultyHeadshotChristopherThe teachers at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School have skill, experience, and a true passion for Massage Therapy. Let’s take a moment to get to know one of the 500 hour program instructors.

Q&A with Christopher Fritel

Q: When did you start your career in Massage Therapy?

A: I attended massage school here at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in May of 2000. I began as an instructor in 2002.


Q: Why did you decide to become a Massage Therapist?

A: I had just moved back to Texas after a year in New York City. I graduated the 4 month program at the Natural Gourmet Cookery School and worked for a family as a personal chef. I was still interested in working with my hands but wanted to have more diversity in my work. When I got back to Texas, a friend of mine had mentioned that she was a massage therapist and that I should be one too. She gave me a wonderful massage, my first, and told me that I should attend TLC rather than the place from which she had graduated. I moved to Austin and enrolled at TLC almost immediately.


Q: What training and experience do you have in Massage Therapy?

A: At TLC I was trained in Swedish, Stretches, Body Mobilization Techniques, Sports Massage, Deep Massage, and some Shiatsu and Structural Bodywork. Later I received training in Craniosacral Therapy from the Upledger Institute and Zero Balancing from TLC. I tend to use Craniosacral, Zero Balancing, and Deep Massage in my private practice.


A: What was your favorite aspect of Massage School?

A: I did not expect to learn so much about myself, especially my mind and body. I really enjoyed the meditation of giving massage and the way both my client and I would feel after a session. It was the most self-supportive job I had ever had in my life.


Q: Do you have a favorite modality? If so, what is it?

A: When giving and receiving, I definitely prefer more subtle massage modalities such as Craniosacral, Zero Balancing, and Deep Massage. They seem to approach a massage session from the perspective of facilitating and working with the client’s self-regulatory and self-resolving nature rather than imposing change forcibly on the “client’s problem”.


Q: What is your approach to Massage Therapy?

A: Listen to the client and find a way to facilitate his or her needs for that session.


Q: What is your favorite color?

A: Seriously my favorite color was been orange for a long time. The color that I am thinking if is like a plain-jane orange crayon.


Q: What is your favorite food?

A: I love a good smoothie and will never turn down Indian food. I am currently obsessed with authentic Chinese food from Asia Cafe – such as spicy honey comb, sliced beef tendon in pickled pepper sauce, stir-fried salt and pepper squid, Szechuan style pork intestines, stir-fried snow pea leaves, and Singapore noodles.


Q: What kind of movies do you like?

A: I love sci-fi and foreign films. A recent favorite that fits both categories was Snowpiercer, but it’s very violent so don’t watch it if you blood makes you queasy. It is in English but it was made in Korea. Closely related to this film is the original version of Old Boy. I love movies that are weird and surprising and have a little violence.


Q: Why do you think Massage Therapy is important?

A: Massage Therapy represents a healthy and beneficial experience of touch which is so vital to physical, emotional, and mental wellness.

upcoming 500 hour Program schedules.

6 Signs You Should be a Massage Therapist


1. 9 to 5 job just isn’t for you

You like a flexible work schedule where you can choose your hours. Massage therapy is the perfect fit – you can work as little or as much as you want at the hours you choose. You won’t be sitting at a desk all day – you will be working with people, helping them to feel better.


2. You like working with your hands

Massage therapy is a career that lets you directly interact with people and help them. How do you do this? With your hands! And elbows. And forearms. You get the satisfaction of feeling muscles release and knowing the relief this will give your clients.


3. You want to be your own boss

There are so many different environments to work in as a Massage Therapist. More and more are creating their own business and becoming their own boss. You get to make all the decisions – hours, location, specialty. You get to take control of your own professional life!


4. You like working in a low stress environment

Massage therapy is all about relieving stress and encouraging relaxation. Working as a Massage Therapist gives you the opportunity to be in this environment for the working hours of your day. As you help clients relax, you also relax.


5. You are curious by nature and constantly want to learn

The human body is complicated and amazing. As a Massage Therapist you will constantly be learning new techniques, specialties, and skills. You will never be bored or lacking in new knowledge to learn.


6. You like helping people

Massage Therapy is all about helping people. You help them relieve tension in their muscles. You help them feel more connected with their body. You help them relax and de-stress from their everyday life. Nothing is more rewarding than when you have a client come off your table remarking how much better they feel after the massage!


Start your new career as a Massage Therapist today!
CLICK HERE to check out our upcoming classes.

Structural Perspectives of the Head and Neck

ce.nancydailby Nancy Dail 

Picture a bowling ball balancing on a stick. This is similar to how the head, which weighs approximately 10-12 pounds, precariously perches on seven cervical vertebrae and disks and is supported only by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The cervical vertebrae connect to the thoracic and lumbar spines, and the trunk lends its bulk to supply a base for the neck. The muscles work constantly to support the head in its many positions. The posture of the shoulders, neck, and head influences the condition and tonicity of the muscles. When the shoulders are rounded forward from slumping in a chair, the head tries to compensate for the posture by assuming a forward position not unlike that of a turtle sticking its neck out of its shell. This does, however; present a problem.

When located in front of the body, the head is perceived to weigh more than it does when balanced on top of the spine. Gravity assists the head-forward posture to cause more pressure on the cervical vertebrae and stress on the posterior cervical muscles. The results over time could be increased tension, headaches, muscular hypertonicity, trigger points, and postural acceptance of the head-forward posture.

Regardless of the head’s actual position, all the muscles connected to the head and/or skeletal structure participate in its actions. The head can flex forward, side bend or laterally flex, rotate, extend and hyperextend. Generally, muscles located anteriorly flex the head, and muscles located posteriorly extend the head. Muscles do not work alone; they work in collective groups. They are strategically placed to oppose each other perfectly to create balance, offset primary action, and support a strong structure.

Flexion is complicated by the weight of the head, gravity, and the position of the head as it flexes. For example, when a person flexes the head forward just a few degrees, such as when reading a book, and then extends the head back slowly, the posterior cervical muscles are hard at work. While the head is in flexion, the posterior cervical muscles are lengthened or stretched, acting as brakes to prevent the head from falling forward. Over time, while the head is in this slightly flexed forward position, the posterior cervical muscles play a continual tug-of-war with the head, building up tension in the muscles that work the hardest. In constant flexion, the flexors eventually get shortened in their contracted state. It takes more force or muscle power to extend the head and counteract the action of flexion and gravity in this sustained position. It is no wonder, then, that the posterior cervical muscles have so much tension constantly combating flexion.

The same principles hold true for lateral flexion. When the head laterally flexes, the opposite side prevents the head from staying in that lateral position. The muscles on the opposite side brake in their lengthened, or eccentric, state, already anticipating contraction, or concentric action, to return the head to extension or to laterally flex to the other side.

For these reasons, it is important to use massage techniques on all the head and neck muscles because they balance each other and are really part of the total joint action. Dimensional Massage Therapy methods look at the actions of the client and then examine the opposing muscles: Which muscles are being stretched or lengthened (eccentric contraction) by the action? Which muscles are synergists (concentric contraction)? What are the primary actors or agonists, assistants or synergists, and opposing actors or antagonists, and which muscles are constantly stabilizing the joint? Remember, there may not be a lot of action. The position of the head when it is resting on a pillow or when the person is reading or working at a desk may stress the muscles that need to provide brakes, stability, or action for the head and neck. This particular aspect makes the joints and soft-tissue structures of the head and neck more complicated than others in the body.

From Kinesiology for Manual Therapies by N. Dail, T. Agnew and RT Floyd, McGraw-Hill 2011. Chapter 14.

Learn more at the Dimensional Massage for Neck and Upper Extremity Pain workshop with Nancy Dail on April 17-19. CLICK HERE to register today!

Zero Balancing brings you back to center

by Tasha Snedaker

11.01.ZBThe modality is like a tree that just got out of a wind storm and is now… still.

It balances you like a pendulum, that, once it’s experienced the very edges of balance, and being unbalanced, it comes to center and… rests. This “center” enables the person to feel “lighter” and taller in their body. The person feels younger in their body with the weight of time appearing to have been lifted. It lends itself to allowing the body to be at ease on the earth rather than being weighed down by it.

I had the privilege of taking the Zero Balancing I class recently at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School and my world, as a bodyworker, has gotten a lot bigger, or deeper, as some would say. My world has gotten deeper in that the body isn’t just as deep as its muscles, stressors, and skin texture; but it is also its structure. That structure is what gives ‘ground’ to the muscles and the stressors. And when that ground can be aligned to its highest potential, then the muscles will naturally follow suit. A certain negative holding pattern may shift. A certain hindering physical tendency may go away.

I used the word ‘privilege’ earlier in reference to the way that the class was taught. The course proceeded in a very methodical manner, teaching each of the steps of the protocol in a variety of learning styles: a brief lecture and diagram, use of a skeleton to demonstrate the points. The instructor demonstrated the technique on a student. Students practiced on their partners and then a touch comparison was given from the instructor or assistant. This all culminated in a full ZB I practice session between 2 students. With one instructor and three assistants there was always a chance to get your question answered. The 3-1/2 days of the teaching were interlaced with full sessions by a trained “Zber” working on participants, many of whom had never received a ZB session before. These sessions brought life to the modality and clarified through experience why it’s so effective .

It was wonderful to learn Zero Balancing I at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School because of its diverse, thorough, and integrated teaching style. From the simple and in-depth look at its history to the practical approach of working with a variety of clients I highly recommend taking Zero Balancing 1 at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School.

Learn more at the Zero Balancing 1 workshop with David Lauterstein on March 26-29. CLICK HERE to register today!

Grad Chronicle – James Uhl

PastedGraphic-1 copyby James Uhl

After graduating TLC in 2011 I immediately began gaining experience by working on my own practice as well as doing chair and sports massage for different events around the city. In July, 2012 I received my NASM Personal Training certification in attempt to bridge two aspects of care to help my clients. Still trying to round out my practice I received an advanced certification with Precision Nutrition as a Fitness Nutritionist, an Upper Body certification with ART (I will be certified for Full Body by the end of the year), and my certification of Applied Functional Sciences.

After working beginning positions as a therapist I have now settled into a wonderful dual practice of massage as well as personal training. I currently work at the Austin Massage Company specializing in sports rehabilitation as well as the newly open Max Training facility as a personal trainer. I hope to bridge my skills as a therapist and trainer to provide my clients with unique rehabilitative strategies to recover from their injuries and achieve their goals.

In my spare time I have created a service project called One Touch Forward as a way to give back to the community with free massages to the inspiring individuals in and around the city. I am so thankful for my time at TLC as it provided me with a wonderful foundation to explore education in the healing arts as well as a form of expression to learn more about myself.

One year at Massage School can change everything!

11.01.AnatomyClass.MuscleModelingby Shannon Young

I have been working in school admissions for years. In that time one thing I have found to be true is that there is never a perfect time to go back to school. There is never the perfect amount of money, time, or energy to make the decision super easy. Thing about it – you will be adding a new responsibility to your plate… and that means change.

So, how do you make school work? First and foremost: choose a schedule that sets you up for success!

The Saturday Only class allows you to dedicate one day a week to your future success. This gives you a week between classes to be prepared for the following week of homework and study responsibilities that come with this outstanding education.

You get to focus your energy in a way that you can still give what you need to keep your outside life running smoothly. Yes, it is a commitment to dedicate your Saturdays to your education for  year, but you will wake up each Saturday excited and ready for your work ahead to achieve your goal of a new rewarding career.

If you have always wanted to go to massage school, it will be worth it to have one day in your week dedicated to reaching that goal instead of dreaming of it.

So, I ask you – what is loving what you do worth?

We want to answer your questions and offer guidance into the best schedule to not only help you start your training but to GRADUATE and begin your new career as a Massage Therapist.

One year can change everything!

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Saturday Only class!

Stiff Neck – Un-puzzling the Problem

by Nancy Dail

Clients regularly complain of having a “stiff neck”. It may hurt to rotate, flex, extend or laterally flex the head or just feel like the head does not respond to movement well. Complaints may also include pain or discomfort on top of the head, general headache, or specific headache pain patterns. Discomfort may run from the back of the head through to the front, and include the entire superior area of the scapula to between the scapulae medially. Multiple complaints may also include upper extremity pain in the shoulder or elbow joints and/or hand and wrist.

The medical history form and interview will help to answer many questions – occupation, repetitive actions, injuries and accidents, sleep patterns, pain patterns, activity and response to other types of care both medical and holistic. What aggravates the condition? What relieves it? Observation will answer postural questions. Is there a head forward posture, protracted shoulders, short upper arms, and a marked handedness? How much pressure is on the posterior cervical muscles based on the head forward posture?

Posture is a repetitive action, and can over time, cause as much discomfort as a sudden injury. The constant head forward posture and position of the shoulders, causes isometric holding patterns for the head extensors, and puts additional stress on the deeper suboccipitals. What other repetitive actions (shoulder girdle and shoulder joint) the individual has, determines what other muscles will play a part in the dysfunction. Muscles work in groups and in paired opposition. This is the aggregate muscle theory – a kinesiology theory that pairs agonist and antagonist action. So, when analyzing and unraveling the stiff neck, the massage therapist must determine active and passive range of motion for the head, neck, shoulder girdle, and shoulder joint. What contributes to the discomfort? Does the individual elevate the shoulder with actions? For example, have you ever tried to shovel snow without lifting the shoulder?

nancy dail pic1Armed with action information, determining which muscles are culpable is next. Muscles work as agonists, antagonists, synergists, stabilizers, and neutralizers. Some muscles may be primary, but others assisting in the action may also have to be treated in order for the issue to be resolved. There is also order involved. What muscles do you work on first and in what position? In the case of the stiff neck, the sternocleidomastoid, is a primary muscle. It is often shortened because of posture or my personal favorite when I travel, “hotel pillow syndrome”. Passively shortening this muscle is key to unwinding it quickly. Flex the head and lateral flex the head. Short strip the muscle off the mastoid process while rotating the head toward your thumb. Grasp the length of the SCM with a pincer palpation and work towards the sternum and clavicle. Deep transverse friction the sternum and clavicular attachments.

Working on the SCM before you begin releasing the longissimus dorsi and splenius capitis will allow a more efficient treatment plan. These muscles assist in lateral flexion with SCM being a prime agonist. With SCM’s release, the lateral flexors palpate easier than before SCM’s treatment.

Releasing the SCM may also assist the relaxation of the trapezius. The two muscles share the same nerve – the accessory nerve. Bilaterally, the trapezius is the antagonist for flexion of the head – the prime action of the SCM.

nancy dail pic2Of course this is only the beginning of unraveling the stiff neck and solving the puzzle of the involved muscles and actions. There are many more muscles to visit in a specific order to release the stiffness, increase range of motion, and relieve pain from lack of movement, headache, or posture issues. Levator Scapula, splenius cervicis, specific suboccipitals, and even the scalenes play important roles in contributing to the common “stiff neck”.

Sternocleidomastoid diagram by Barbara Cummings illustrator; Myofascial Pain and Dsyfunction, Trigger Point Manual, Travell and Simmons

Technique picture from Kinesiology for Manual Therapies, McGraw-Hill, Dail, Agnew, and Floyd.

Learn more at the Dimensional Massage for Neck and Upper Extremity Pain with Nancy Dail on April 17-19, 2015. CLICK HERE to register today!

5 Reasons the Saturday Only class is great!

  1. 11.01.AnatomyClass.MuscleModelingYou have more time between classes to absorb information.

    The Saturday Only class meets just one day a week. This means students have more time to not only absorb the theoretical parts of the curriculum, but they have more time to practice and develop their hands-on skills as well!

  2. You can keep your job and go to school!

    By having class only one day a week, Saturday, you can keep your full time job while you are in school to start your new career in Massage Therapy!

  3. It only takes 1 year

    In 1 year, you give yourself the opportunity to begin a new career in a field that is flexible, rewarding, and challenging. Think about it? This time next year, you will be about to start your new career as a Massage Therapist! Wow!

  4. The Saturday Only class has AMAZING teachers

    Instructors Christopher Fritel and Kazuko DeVirgilio are experts in massage therapy. Together they will provide you a comprehensive education in anatomy & physiology, practical hands-on massage work, business, and more!

  5. This class schedule is offered only ONCE a year!

    Don’t miss out!

The March Saturday Only class starts March 14, 2015. CLICK HERE to learn more today!

Pediatric Massage

Sinclair cover mechby Marybetts Sinclair

Sensitive massage is a unique type of therapy that can speak directly to many of the greatest needs of children. It is stimulating, relaxing, emotionally nurturing and feels terrific. It can help children release tension, become more aware of their bodies, and form a body image that is positive and strong. When there are periods of rapid brain growth and the child’s self image is being formed, massage can be especially significant. For many kids, their childhood can have stressful times, and massage is a great way to learn to deal with stress.

Recent research on massage for children with a wide range of disabilities, including hospitalized newborns, children with asthma, autism, severe burns, visual impairment, rheumatoid arthritis. and other special groups has documented many of these benefits. For example, hospitalized newborns who are receiving gentle daily massages gain more weight on the same amount of formula and have decreased levels of stress hormones.

But we never force massage on children, instead we make it fun! In the pediatric massage class we will learn how to make massage more interesting and enjoyable, using novel toys, balls, items of different textures, heat and cold and more. (These are also forms of sensory stimulation which will help kids be more comfortable being handled.) For example, a little girl named Molly, who had Behr’s Syndrome, was treated in a fun way in massage class.

Normally, this inherited neurological condition meant that her hands were so sensitive she could not pick up anything, and had never been able to feed herself. First, we let her play with bathtub toys in a pan of warm water, then in a pan of cold water, and finally we managed to massage her hands in the water while she was distracted and paying no attention.. Then gradually, as she could tolerate more stimulation, her hands were massaged out of the water. Her mother followed up at home, massaging Molly’s hands every day, and in two weeks her occupational therapist reported Molly was finally able to tolerate holding a spoon. Now she could begin to learn to feed herself.

Learn more at the Pediatric Massage Therapy workshop with Mary Betts Sinclair on February 28 – March 1, 2015. CLICK HERE to register today.

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