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Tight muscles? You should try a Thai massage

Thai massage therapist stretches client's tight back muscles

What is Thai massage?

Thai massage has been described as “assisted yoga”, and it is probably the most active and physical form of massage therapy available. If you’re looking to simply lie on a table and drift off, this isn’t the treatment for you. Over the course of your session you’ll be twisted, turned and stretched into a surprising variety of positions, with the ultimate goal of boosting blood flow and lengthening every muscle in your body.

The history of Thai Massage

Thai Massage is one of the five branches of traditional Thai medicine, known as External Medicine, which also incorporates cupping and scraping of the skin. The other four are Internal Medicine (consuming herbs as part of a healthy diet), Spirit Medicine (involving amulets and incantations), Divination (astrology and numerology) and Buddhism, which is the guiding philosophy for positive mental health.

These five branches are all linked by Element Theory, which claims that all living things are made up of a combination of the four elements: earth, wind, water and fire. The elements must be brought into balance in order to lead a healthy life.

Historically, this system has links to ancient Chinese and Indian medicine, and has been practiced in various forms for thousands of years. As in these traditions, the spiritual purpose of massage is to unblock energy channels and bring harmony to the body.

What happens during a Thai Yoga Massage?

Traditional Thai Yoga Massage uses no oils or lotions, and you will be asked to wear soft, non-restrictive clothes (or you may be given a simple outfit to wear). Prepare to get up close and personal with your therapist, who will stretch, pull, rock and compress your body. This type of massage takes place on a mat on the floor, rather than on a table.

The massage will follow “sen” lines in the body, which trace the movement of energy, and also loosely correspond with the anatomical nervous and cardiovascular systems. As your therapist will not be rubbing or pressing on your muscles, the technique relies on the compression and release of your own body against itself.

Don’t be surprised if your therapist wants to pull on your fingers or toes, tug at your ears, crack your knuckles or even stand on your back. Although this experience may be intense the first time, it should never be too painful, so always let them know if you’re struggling.

Thai Massage with oil

The techniques of Thai Massage can also be incorporated into a table massage. In this case, you will remove your clothes and lie on a table, covered by towels. Your therapist will use oil and a combination of Acupressure, Deep Tissue Massage and manipulation to block and release the flow of blood to areas of tension.

What are the benefits of a Thai Massage?

Thai Massage can be experienced by anyone who is in good health, but should be avoided by those with high blood pressure or a history of blood clots.

The benefits of Thai massage may include:

  • Improves recovery time following exercise

  • Increases flexibility

  • Boosts circulation

  • Releases cortisol, leading to reduced stress-levels

  • Promotes a sense of deep relaxation

Thai Massage is a unique and powerful therapy that makes a nice change from other types of massage. You should finish your session feeling loose limbed and relaxed.

If you’re pregnant or suffering from a serious illness, you should consult your doctor before beginning any course of massage therapy.