Thai massage is an ancient treatment methodology with its roots in Indian Ayurvedic treatment principles. It was founded by an Indian Ayurvedic doctor, Jivaka Kuman Bhacca who is still the most revered icon in Thailand as the Father of Medicine, Thai Massage is a special type of assisted Yoga process where the giver plays a more active role while the taker remains passive.
Jivaka, Lord Buddha’s physician, was well known for his extraordinary treatment skills and high knowledge of herbal medicines. This special healing technique known as NuadBoran evolved in Thailand 2000 years back and is also termed Yoga Massage or Thai Yoga Massage.
Thai massage has two variations – Traditional Thai Massage and ancient Thai Massage. Though both appear similar in the application the latter form involves meditation of the massage giver and the taker before the treatment.
In this wellness guide, you will learn about:
A Detailed Guide to Thai Massage by Dr Prem – Introduction, History, Principle, Methods, Benefits, Contradictions and More Tips
History of Thai Massage
Propounded by Jivaka, this unique healing system like Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM) has a complex history with a mixed influence of Chinese, Indian, and South East Asian traditional medicines and culture. It has gradually evolved into the modern form with lots of variations practiced across the world.
The Traditional Thai Massage Therapy procedures were passed to the common man through oral instructions whereas the texts were preserved in Royal Courts. Most of these texts got destroyed by Burmese invaders in 1767. The remaining parts highlighting special treatment points, energy points, and herbal medicines were later displayed to the public in the famous Wat Po temple in Bangkok.
Thai Massage used to have lots of variations depending upon the socioeconomic status of the people. For instance, the Rajasamnak style of treatment was restricted only to royal families and aristocrats. The most commonly practiced style, ‘Chalosiak’ too has wide regional variations.
Thai Massage has been gaining wide acceptance in the west with lots of fusion being brought in but the traditional Thai Massage by well-trained and experienced massage givers provides outstanding effects.
Thai Massage is a type of Acupressure treatment that is based on diverting the trapped energy through different points of the body through specific massages and assisted yoga postures. Thai healing is based on the principle that sustaining life is done by a special force (lom) acquired from the sun, water, air, and food which flows throughout the body through invisible lines or routes (sen).
Thai massage therapists have identified 72,000 such routes. Physical disorders arise when the free natural movement of this vital force gets obstructed. Thai massage is aimed to release those obstacles allowing the free flow of vital energy throughout the body making it disease free.
Though diverting vital force through invisible routes is hypothetical but the coordination of the skin, tissue, bones, organs, and different body parts that sets in through this special massaging technique is highly rejuvenating for body and soul. It in stills a great level of relaxation and feel-good factor to the receiver automatically hastening the healing process.
Types Of Thai Massages
There are different types of Thai Massages that provide you with various benefits and cures such as:
Traditional Thai Massage
Traditional Massage is also known as ‘Yoga Massage’. The receiver stays fully clothed throughout the session and the massage is carried out on a padded mat on the floor. This massage uses a combination of acupressure and various yoga techniques that relieves joint and muscle tension providing vitality and relaxation.
Thai Herbal/ Pinda Massage
Thai Herbal or Pinda Massage is a typical combination of Tradition Thai and Ancestral Healing Methods. This massage involves the application of a hot poultice or plant pouches filled with medicated herbs all over the body that acts on the required acupuncture points to reduce pain, relax the body, and improve circulation.
Thai Oil Massage
A variety of aroma massage oils are used in Thai Oil Massage. This massage works through the different energy meridian lines of your body. The use of aromatherapy oils softens your skin, stimulates blood circulation, and clams your mind. It is usually performed on the massage stretcher and is inclined to provide more relaxation than Tradition massage.
Thai Foot Massage
This massage consists of applying massage oils to the specific areas of your foot soles. These areas correspond to different organs of your body. Thus, when these points are methodologically and gently pressured, this Thai massage benefits in improved functionality, enhanced free flow of energy, and releases toxins.
Methods and Procedures
Thai massage does not involve any lotion or potions. The receiver wears loose clothing during the treatment and lies on a mat or mattress. The receiver should remain in the most comfortable and relaxed position.
Constant body contact is maintained between the massage giver and the taker where the body muscles at specific points are stretched, pulled, or compressed. The massage giver has an important role to play in assisted yoga in turning and twisting certain body parts in different postures not possible for an individual to do alone.
Traditional Thai Massage demands a one-to-one treatment process where a single giver would provide treatment to a single patient. But nowadays, the massage is provided in a big room with about a dozen takers being treated by a few massage givers.
The massage giver identifies the invisible energy flow paths (sen) and massages accordingly. The giver can adjust his/her legs and feet for proper positioning of the receiver.
A normal Thai massage session lasts for 2 hours or more where the body muscles of the taker are stretched and compressed in a rhythm. The massage may involve pulling and twisting different body parts including fingers and ears etc.
A full Thai Massage session is a great experience heightening the physical and mental well-being of both the giver and the taker.
Benefits Of Thai Massages
There are various Thai Massage benefits. Among all the immense benefits some are listed below:
-Intense massage through constant body contact between the massage giver and taker improves the overall blood circulation.
– Releases muscular tension and reduces inflammation.
– Heightens mental relaxation and comfort level
-Reduces mental stress and anxieties
-Boosts body immunity system
– Promotes body flexibility and motion range
– Restores and revives energy
What To Expect During First Thai Massage
- As said before, you should be prepared for some intense moving, pulling, and kneading of your body. You do not need to worry about it, as a professional masseuse has accurate knowledge about the pressure levels suitable for your body. However, people who have never experienced any massages can feel discomfort during the process. Nevertheless, you can politely inform your therapist if you feel hurt or in pain and they will change and reduce the pressure levels accordingly.
- Feeling overwhelmed is natural and common at the start of the massage. Your mind and body will eventually respond to the process. You might feel exhausted or very light for a few initial minutes, which will gradually get better in a while. It is advised to free your mind and body to enjoy the massage and its effects effectively.
- Traditional Thai massages do not involve the use of massage oils. These massages are performed dry and focus on ‘Yoga’ stretches and postures. So, in case you are opposed to oil massages, you have nothing to be worried about.
- DO NOT consume alcohol or caffeine. Make sure you have your meal or food intake at least before an hour of getting a Thai massage.
- You can also prepare yourself physically by doing some stretching before your massage session. It will help to enable good flexibility during the session and manage muscle pain post the session.
Things To Avoid Post Thai Massage Session
Food coma is the last thing you would want to experience post an intense massage session. After food intake, your body redirects blood to your digestive system for digestion which can lead to extreme dizziness or lightheaded. Try to consume light foods such as fruits or healthy snacks.
Caffeine, Alcohol, and Other Substances
As you know, massages increase blood circulation in your body. Consuming coffee, alcohol, or other substances can cause an increase in heart rate and elevate anxious symptoms. To prevent these unpleasant effects, you must avoid these substances for a few hours after a Thai Massage.
The temperature of your shower after a massage session is important. Taking very hot showers can cause a drastic increase in the blood flow of your body making you dizzy or fainty.
Even though you feel relaxed and energized after a Thai massage, remember that your muscles are exhausted. Heavy physical activities will strain your muscles and cause an increase in pain.
Water is an essential requirement pre- and post-Thai Massage. Your body tends to release toxins and water helps to facilitate flushing them out of your system. Keeping yourself hydrated prevents dehydration and detoxification in your body.
Note – Thai massage involves higher pressure levels compared to other massages. Don’t forget to do mild stretching after a Thai massage or Traditional Thai massage to avoid soreness of stretched, pulled, and pushed muscles for longer and better results.
Traditional Thai Massage Therapy combines acupressure, compression, and passive stretching. These massages have profound effects on your cardiovascular system or circulatory system. Thereby, the following medical conditions should be considered before going for a Thai massage.
- Coronary Artery or Heart Disease
- Osteoporosis and Neurological Diseases
- High Blood Pressure
- Recent Surgeries, Burns, or Open Wounds
- Bleeding Disorder
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Please note that Thai massages are neither recommended nor suitable for pregnant women.
Wellness and Tourism Spots in Thailand for Thai Massage
With a wide assortment of allurements, Thailand is one of the most welcoming and visited countries in the world. It is also well-known for its signature Thai massages. People love visiting Thailand to experience amazing cuisine, out-of-the-world beaches, and resorts, peaceful temples, immaculate natural beauty, and the list goes on. Another Thai specialty that attracts tourists on a large scale is the Thai health and wellness facilities.
On your visit to Thailand, you can see an abundance of wellness spots throughout. Places like Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and how we can miss Bangkok, which is a hub of the finest medical tourism options. In all these places, a traveler can find an unceasing array of Thai massage spas, hotel spas, and wellness spas. The secret behind such a massive presence of spas in Thailand is the signature Thai massages. There are different types of Thai massages that soothe a person inside out.
Special Massages in Thailand
The very extraordinary and extremely famous is the “Nuat Thai” or “Thai Traditional Massage.” This massage has special healing powers and has been in practice for over 2500 years. The therapists massage the energy lines in the body and allow the release of pent-up feelings.
This peculiar massage transfers the massage seeker into a world of ecstasy. Not only this, Nuat Thai cures insomnia, and anxiety, improves blood circulation, migraine, asthma, flexibility, and many more.
“Thai herbal compress” is another very effective Thai massage. The procedure involves pressing a warm cushion filled with heated herbs on the body. The “sphere of herbs,” or LukPraKob in Thai, is gently pressed on the body to relieve the strain on muscles and cures cold and cough. This massage is a perfect combination of stress relief and relaxation.
Thailand also offers extremely refreshing and amazingly relaxing Thai foot massages. The massage is not only relaxing but has therapeutic benefits, like- the massage and relaxing parts stimulate the proper functioning of the parts of your foot. The therapists put pressure through fingers, thumb, and teakwood sticks they use to give a massage to your feet.
Other Wellness Attractions in Thailand
Apart from the signature Thai massages, Thailand has some terrific oil massages, hot stone massages, aromatherapy sessions, acupressure, meditation, detoxification programs, yoga, hydrotherapy, homeopathic treatments, and reflexology for the guests.
However, the wellness treatment list does not make Thailand the most visited country in the world; rather, it is the expertise in massage and other wellness therapies that Thai people have achieved after years of practice.
Important Facts About Thai Massages
- Thai massage can only consist of the use of the giver’s feet for massage. In this position, the giver walks on the body (back) of the receiver.
- The Traditional Thai massage begins with a meditation followed by a mantra. While the normal Thai massage does not involve both of these traditional cultures.
- The ancient Thai massages were usually only performed between one giver and one receiver. However, modernized Thai massages are also performed in groups where there are a bunch of receivers and several givers in a room.
- There are 72,000 energy meridians or pathways through which energy flows in your body. These invisible pathways are manipulated by your therapist with rhythmic pressures, postures, and deep statics that makes the massages beneficial.
A brigade of tourists every year travels to Thailand for a vacation to experience a mix of fun and wellness treatment.