What Is It?
Unlike the customary Swedish massage many people envision when they think of a spa treatment, a Thai Massage is a fully clothed experience, received on the floor with no oils. Throughout the sequence of deep massage and stretching, the massage therapist will move and press on the client in a rhythmic manner to promote relaxation. The practice functions around the philosophy that the body is charted with Sen lines where air travels throughout the tissues and organs. Through the palpation of muscular tissue and stretching, the therapist can press into these Sen lines to further the process of ridding toxins from the body. Because many of the stretches are so similar to yoga, the practice is also an exhilarating experience that leaves the recipient energized, more flexible and centered.
More Benefits of Thai Massage
A huge benefit of Thai massage is increased blood circulation. When our muscles experience a decrease of blood supply to a particular area—usually somewhere we carry most of our stress, like the shoulders—muscles miss out on much of the precious oxygen that keeps the fibers pliable and healthy. This can lead to poor posture and horrendous bodily pain over a prolonged period of time. All massage modalities increase circulation to some extent, but because of Thai massage’s firm pressure and rhythmic stretches synchronized with the breath, the blood is moved more and the benefit can be greater.
Over time, the recipients of Thai massage will notice an increase in flexibility. Overall flexibility is extremely important for our bodies. It can reduce injury and increase range of motion, correct poor posture and help sustain healthy blood circulation. When the body lacks flexibility in certain areas, it will automatically compensate for the fault to protect the perceived injury. Unfortunately, this survival mechanism creates problems elsewhere that can wear the body down. Thai massage assists the client in building or maintaining flexibility for overall health.
This modality also releases stress. Stress is the unseen agent that causes us to walk with lifted shoulders, slouch at computer desks and ignore our bodies entirely. When the mind is under stress, the body begins to live a white-knuckled existence. A Thai massage will encourage muscles that have clenched in response to stress to relax, and the release can be powerful—physically and emotionally. We are more equipped to battle daily mental stress when our bodies are able to move, function, breathe and thrive.
The Birthplace of Thai Massage
Unlike French Fries that aren’t actually from France, Thai massage did originate in Thailand. The founding father of Thai massage is thought to have been Shivago Komarpaj, Buddha’s physician over 2, 500 years ago. Thanks to the influence of surrounding cultures, the form of this ancient modality has probably changed quite significantly since Shivago’s day, but the practice is still heavily used in both the spa and medical arenas of Thailand. It also continues to grow in popularity throughout America and Europe as another recognized form of massage therapy.
Things to Think About Before, During and After a Thai Massage
Don’t eat too much. Thai massage on a full stomach isn’t very fun. Things begin to move after lunchtime and the increased circulation is only going to help things move along more. To avoid a gaseous session, or uncomfortable bloating, eat light or encourage clients to eat light beforehand. Everyone will be much happier!
Clients must share medical conditions. Some practices of massage are contraindicated for certain illnesses, injuries or even pregnancy. Always be honest and thorough about medical history.
Communicate! It is important for both the therapist and the client to have a mutual understanding of the client’s limitations. A client should always make it clear if something is too painful and a massage therapist should always make sure to check in with the client, especially with more advanced stretches. Open communication helps prevent further injury.
Hydrate! Clients need to drink plenty of water before and after the massage. Water is a must throughout the day, regardless, but it is especially important when breaking down stiff muscle tissue. Toxins break free of tense areas and need extra help getting flushed out of the body. These toxins are what cause some people to feel sick after a therapeutic massage, so it’s especially important to re-hydrate the muscles and internal organs.
Keep an open mind. While the practice is very different from Western massage, the benefits are enormous and well worth the time to investigate a new avenue of healing. If you’re interested in learning about other massage techniques please visit our massage therapy resource center