Thai massage is a practice that has been around for over 2,500 years. Traditional Thai massage was first regarded as a healing art and has influences from both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.
Thai full-body massages are very different from what you might expect from a typical Western massage. You don’t always necessarily lay on a massage bed while therapists apply oil and creams to the body, kneading your pressure points.
Instead, you often remain clothed, on a mat, while your traditional Thai massage therapist shapes your body using all-manner of stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques. This is a marvellous way of relieving tension in the body, promoting relaxation, and ultimately improving your overall circulation and flexibility.
Thai massage is sometimes affectionately referred to as ‘assisted yoga’, as its principles are rooted in improving the flow of energy throughout your entire body.
Let’s take a closer look at Thai massage and the benefits of the practice area.
What does a Thai massage include?
When you have a Thai massage, you can wear your own loose-fitting clothes, or more commonly, your therapist will provide you with comfortable purpose-designed garments that allow you to remain covered throughout the procedure.
You should expect to lie on a mat, or a massage mattress on the floor (not a massage table). Once you are on the mat, your traditional Thai massage therapist will slowly and carefully move your body through a sequence of stretches, leveraging the weight and pressure of their own body as they assist you.
In a traditional Thai massage, they don’t typically use oil as your muscles aren’t kneaded as they are in say, a Swedish massage. However, in some cases, you can request a combination of oil and Tiger Balm if you are having a Thai fusion massage for example (a mix of Western oil massage and Thai massage).
You should also be prepared for your massage therapist to use their hands, thumbs, elbows, and knees to stretch out and pull at various parts of your body. Don’t be alarmed if they sit on you or try to stretch you into various positions, this is a common practice.
Often, the stretches will require you to put your body through various yoga-like movements, and your Thai massage specialist will guide your body slowly as you go (and helping to maintain various poses).
You may also find that your muscles feel especially sore or tense. In this case, you may feel some pain or discomfort. Simply let your practitioner know and they will alternate the amount of pressure being applied accordingly.
On that note, you should definitely inform your traditional Thai full body massage practitioner of any injuries that they should be aware of being starting the session.
What are the benefits of a traditional Thai massage?
There are so many ways in which Thai massage can benefit your health. Let’s take a look:
1 – Relieve headaches
If you are suffering from a migraine or any tension-related headaches, then a Thai massage can help to ease your symptoms.
In fact, there have been several studies involving patients who suffer from chronic headaches, where they found that Thai massage therapy indeed reduced the intensity of migraines and headaches.
The benefits of a Thai massage on the head can actually last anywhere from several days up to 15 weeks. As such, you may wish to find your groove and seek therapy at a frequency that suits you.
2 – Reduce back pain
Thai massage is also an effective, non-pharmaceutical method of reducing back pain.
Researches in Thailand studies the effects of regular Thai massage on a group of 120 people with non-specific lower back pain. Half of this group were treated with Thai, while others used various conservative joint mobilization techniques (e.g., hot packs and manual stretching).
Both of the groups were treated twice weekly over the course of four weeks, and both groups experienced significant pain relief. Both methods were effective, which goes to show how important regular massage is.
3 – Relieves pain stiffness in the joints
Thai massage therapy is also known to improve joint function, which is ideal if you suffer from pain or stiffness whenever you move about.
In a recent study centered around Thai massage and wand exercises on people with arthritis in the knees, researchers found that the participants were walking with greater ease and feeling significantly less pain after the eight-week program.
4 – Increased flexibility and range
Thai massage is excellent for increasing your range of motion and the overall flexibility of your body. If you have been struggling with athletic performance and want to be able to move around more freely without feeling stiff, then having a Thai massage regularly is our recommendation.
Many experts believe that Thai massage gives increased flexibility as the massage therapy itself promotes the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles throughout the body.
5 – Reduces anxiety
It’s not just physical benefits that come with Thai massage, but mental-health benefits as well. You see, Thai massage therapy is renowned for making people feel a great sense of calm and relaxation.
Certainly, Thai massage is quite an energy-intensive exercise compared to most typical Western massages, it has actually been shown to reduce anxiety and promote a feeling of calm.
In essence, a traditional Thai massage makes you feel good inside and out!
6 – Recover energy
The surprising thing about Thai massage is that after an hour-long session, you feel as though you are floating when you leave the massage parlour. This rejuvenating feeling is wonderful, especially as it is accompanied by feelings of relaxation as well.
It makes you feel calm, at ease but also bursting with energy.
In one study, researchers looked at the effects of Thai massage compared to Swedish massage on people who were particularly fatigued.
Once the participants were interviewed, they found that those who had experienced a Thai massage felt both mentally invigorated and physically charged.
The study group was small, but if you share this information with anyone who has experienced a Thai massage before, they will confirm it for you.
And that about sums it up. If you have never had a Thai massage before but have been thinking about it for a while, stop thinking! Simply find the best Thai massage spa, get yourself booked in, and believe me when I say, you’ll never look back!