Planting the fingers, knuckles and elbows in the plantar fascia

Today, after experimenting with Katy Bowman’s ‘Save Your Knees, Build a Butt’ webinar, my plantar fascia, calves, and hamstrings were dreaming of a Thai massage with a difference.


I’m lucky to have studied Thai Traditional Massage with a wonderful mentor, Homphrang, at her school, Baan Hom Samunphrai, just outside Chaing Mai, Thailand. I did the 60 Hour Thai Traditional Massage course with her in 2012, alongside four other students.

With Homphrang, bodywork genius and guru, although the photographer seemed more interested in the hanging plant above

My body was crying out for one particular part of the sequence today; there’s a bit where, after much working of the leg lines from the side, the legs are elevated, at a right angle from the torso and the foot in the standing practitioner’s hand, toes pulled back, plantar fascia taut, is kneaded like dough, then ironed out with the elbow, the practitioner’s body weight judiciously applied through the sole.


The position is a wonderful stretch for the posterior line in itself. I was wondering how interesting it would be to ask the body being worked to hold a pencil beneath the ishial tuberosities, to ensure correct alignment of the pelvis while the back line is being worked so intensely.


Also in this category of drool-worthy body work is the hooking the patient’s leg that is already positioned into a piriformis stretch, the foot turned at just the right angle to torque the lower leg back into alignment from the knee down, and then the practitioner’s foot and toes – full leverage available – works into the back of the thigh, soothing, clawing, releasing the client’s hamstrings.


Body work. Mmmmm. I’ve trained in it. I’ve practised it. Rarely have I experienced it. Gimme gimme gimme body work after a good stretch.


But my dream today is that a skilled body work practitioner meets a biomechanist (in the same body) and performs their work with a precise understanding of the ways in which the body needs to be reengineered to return to full vitality. 


This way, no pedicurist would remove the carefully formed callouses that form a vital part of anyone’s movement chain – thinking of a sorrowful anecdote from our hero Katy Bowman.


I wonder what I can come up with… oh you lucky world!

And – the juiciest quad stretch today has reawakened my soles in the loveliest way. Hooking those toes, facing forward those diamond ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) headlights, all on a plane – just let it all release and let those knee caps drop into deep relaxation. 

Also! Had this Bikram thought today – all this standing locked leg. Oh my goodness, the amount of hyperextension I’ve seen at the knees as nothing but nothing was stacked in the right place. 

I looked pretty whacked after 60 hours of formal training and most nights practicing what we’d learned that day: all worth it.
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