Thailand is known for its expertise in traditional massages and the benefits of Thai traditional massage. Thai massage, which originated in India, has been around for over 2,500 years. Originally it is regarded as a healing art. Traditional Thai massage includes influences from both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Unlike typical Western-type massages, it does not involve lying on a massage bed while a massage therapist applies oil to the body and kneads the muscles and pressure points.
Instead, in Traditional Thai massage, one has to lie fully clothed on a mat on the ground while a practitioner uses stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques to relieve tension, promote relaxation, and improve flexibility and circulation. Thus it is sometimes referred to as assisted yoga.
Thai massage is focused on improving the flow of energy throughout the body. Thai massage is an ancient practice with many benefits that are supported by modern science. It may reduce the severity of one’s headaches, decrease lower back and joint pain, increase flexibility, calm anxieties, and energise the mind and body.
Thai massage is not a passive treatment. The practitioner would move through a gradual series of yoga-like positions in addition to working on the tension in the muscles.
Traditional Thai massage is a wonderfully energising and balancing treatment. In this article, we will take a closer look at the science-backed benefits of traditional Thai massage and what to expect if you opt for this type of massage.
Benefits of traditional Thai massage
Thai massage can benefit one’s health in numerous ways, many of which are supported by scientific studies.
Discussed below are a few key benefits that are supported by research.
- Relieves headaches – If one has migraine or experiences tension headaches, traditional Thai massage may help ease the symptoms. Researchers found that In several small studies involving patients with chronic headaches, Thai massage reduced the intensity of both migraine and tension headaches.
If one is interested in trying non-pharmaceutical remedies for headache relief, it is worth noting that researchers concluded that the benefits of Thai massage could last anywhere from several days to as long as around 15 weeks.
- Reduces back pain – Thai massage may be an effective, non-pharmaceutical means of reducing back pain.
Researchers in Thailand studied the effects of Thai massage on a group of 120 people with nonspecific low back pain. Half the test group was treated with Thai massage and the rest with other conservative management techniques that included joint mobilisation – a technique that involves applying pressure, hot packs, and manual stretching to painful areas.
Both groups were treated twice a week for a period of four weeks, and both groups had significant pain relief.
Some other studies have found that Thai massage reduces back pain associated with trigger points — tight, painful muscle clusters — in the upper back.
- Relieves joint stiffness and pain – Thai massage may improve joint function if one experiences pain and stiffness when he moves. Tight muscles can put pressure on the joints and cause musculoskeletal pain such as back pain or shoulder pain. Thai massage releases the pressure from joints and allows them to fall back into proper alignment, relieving the pain.
In one research study, researchers employed a program of Thai massage combined with wand exercises to study the effects on people with knee arthritis. The researchers found that the study participants felt less pain and walked with greater ease after the 8-week program.
In another study involving 60 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, researchers found that three weeks of Thai massage provided the same pain relief as three weeks of ibuprofen or pain killer medicines.
- Increases flexibility and range of motion – In cases where the range of motion and flexibility are affecting athletic performance or making it hard to get around, Thai massage has been shown to be of help to aid move more easily. The stretching action improves the movement of fluids (such as lymph, synovial and cerebrospinal) in the space between joints.
In a research project, a team of thirty-four soccer players were part of an experiment to test the effects of Thai massage on athletic performance. After receiving Thai massage three times in a 10-day period, the soccer players showed significant improvement in their ability to do sit-and-reach exercises.
Researchers hypothesise that the increase in flexibility may be because Thai massage has the ability to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to muscles. This, in turn, may help reduce pain and decrease muscle adhesions.
Researchers have also found that the Thai massage treatments improved the players’ speed and agility on the field.
- Eases anxiety – One of the most appealing aspects of massage therapy is the sense of calm and relaxation it can bring. Thai massage is more energetic than other forms of massage therapy, it has been shown to lower anxiety and increase a systemic feeling of calm. Studies have found that people who receive Thai massage tests lower on measures of psychological stress following treatment.
Brain scans of people who received Thai massage treatments showed more relaxation and much lower anxiety than people who underwent physical therapy treatments for the same conditions.
- Revives energy – Thai massage incorporates whole-body movements, many of which are yoga-like. For that reason, many people report that once they finish Thai massage sessions, they feel not only relaxed but also rejuvenated.
- Sleep Problems – Naturally soothing to the mind and body, Thai Massage helps one to sleep better and alleviate disturbed sleep patterns.
- Improves blood circulation – Improved blood circulation helps to remove toxins from the body. This increases immunity buildup against a wide range of diseases.
- Promotes mental relaxation and Reduces fatigue – Thai massage relaxes the body and mind to ease emotional or mental stress. Massage and stretching can effectively reduce body soreness and fatigue
Techniques of Thai Massage
In a traditional Thai massage, practitioners use their hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, and sometimes even their feet to reduce tension in the patient’s muscles. The combination of stretching, movement, and pressure is what distinguishes Thai massage from other types of massage.
Thai massage is based on the idea that energy moves through the body along predictable lines or pathways known as sens. To increase the flow of energy along the sens, the practitioner moves the body of the person undertaking the massage into yoga-like positions in addition to pulling and rocking the body in various ways.
Thai massage may be a good option for one if he wants a more active type of massage, one which involves lots of movements that makes him participate instead of lying down throughout your massage.
Typically, one would have to lie on a mat or massage mattress on the floor and not on a massage table. Once on the mat, the practitioner would slowly make the body move through multiple stretches, using the weight and pressure of the body to assist.
Unlike other massages, like the Swedish massage, oil is not used and the muscles typically are not kneaded. Instead, the practitioner uses their hands, thumbs, elbows, and knees to stretch, pull, and rock different parts of the body. They may even sit on you to stretch you into certain positions. Some types of stretches may involve going through yoga-like movements with the practitioner holding or pulling to maintain a pose.
If one’s muscles are sore or tense, he might feel some discomfort. In such cases, he should let the practitioner know so the pressure and stretching can be reduced.
If one has an injury, or some part of the body is particularly sensitive to pain, then also the practitioner should be informed before they start the massage session.
Considering the benefits that it holds, still, Thai massage may not be safe for everyone. If one has an underlying health condition, he should find out from the treating doctor if this traditional form of massage is safe and suitable or not. Thai massage is not recommended for pregnant women.
In addition, medical experts recommend that one should avoid massage if he or she has:
- bleeding disorders
- deep vein thrombosis
.Also, because Thai massage has profound effects on the circulatory system, one must make sure to check with the treating doctor before scheduling a massage, especially if he has a medical history of either of the following conditions :
- heart disease or coronary artery disease
- high blood pressure
- conditions that affect your spine, including osteoporosis and neurological diseases
- recent surgery
- open wounds