Thai massage employs a combination of acupressure, deep compressions and passive yoga-like stretching. Unlike its Western counterpart, Thai massage is practiced on a mat on the floor and the client is fully clothed in loose or stretchy, comfortable attire. Generally, no oil or cream is used, although sometimes herbal compresses or salves may be applied.
One of the reasons the popularity of Thai massage has spiked in recent years is the wide range of benefits that seems to be unique to this technique. Clients are reporting fast, effective and lasting results.
Following are some of the benefits clients experience with Thai massage:
INCREASED ENERGY. Some other forms of massage invoke a parasympathetic relaxation response, leaving the client feeling like they just woke up from a deep sleep at the end of the massage. While that is wonderful and has numerous benefits, Thai massage seems to have a more energizing effect on the nervous system. A focus on restoring movement in the Sen lines combined with the joint mobilization resulting from the passive stretching leaves the client feeling calm, yet alert and energized.
REDUCED FASCIAL RESTRICTION. The sequence of compressing, thumbing then stretching commonly used in Thai massage can result in a form of myofascial release.
INCREASED RANGE OF MOTION. By first warming an area with compression and acupressure, then following with a passive stretch, Thai massage can increase range of motion in a client in a lasting way. The effects mimic the results achieved in proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching.
IMPROVED POSTURE. When we reduce fascial restrictions and increase range of motion, our client can experience an immediate improvement in their posture. For many clients, this improved posture allows them to experience their body in a new way. Continuing to receive Thai massage on a regular basis can allow them to maintain this improved posture and all the physical and mental benefits it brings.
REDUCED BACK PAIN. Thai massage tends to focus on areas of the body often overlooked or underworked in other forms of massage, including the adductor muscles of the inner thigh, the abdomen, the rib cage and anterior trunk. These specific muscle groups sometimes lead to a forward to stooped posture when shortened or restricted. The forward posture that is pervasive in our culture is the leading cause of back pain.
One likely reason Thai massage is able to work these areas consistently is that clients are fully clothed. Many massage therapists and clients alike shy away from these areas because they can feel vulnerable or invasive. Also, draping can be a challenge in these areas. The simple fact of working through clothes as opposed to skin can alleviate many of these issues.
STROKE PATIENTS. A study conducted in Northern Thailand and published by the National Institutes of Health in the United States in 2012 sought to find the positive effects of Thai massage in stroke rehabilitation. The study concluded that patients who received Thai massage after a stroke experienced significant improvements in activities of daily living, mood, pain and sleep patterns.
Clients, however, are not the only ones who benefit from Thai massage. This practice has quite a bit to offer massage therapists, too—mainly the opportunity to maintain their own health and wellness and help prevent some of the injuries that so often force therapists out of the profession they love. Following are some of the top benefits Thai massage offers massage therapists:
REDUCED COMMON INJURIES. The techniques
and body mechanics of Thai massage do not strain the practitioner like many other forms of massage can. By relying on gravity and leverage instead of using muscle strength, Thai massage therapists avoid many of the injuries and pains that are common in this profession.
REDUCED FATIGUE. Working in a slow, meditative fashion combined with body mechanics that greatly reduce the exertion by the therapist leads to much less fatigue after a session or a full day’s work.
INCREASED MARKETABILITY TO CLIENTS AND
EMPLOYERS. Along with the physical benefits, Thai massage can also help you market yourself and your practice in new ways. The demand for Thai massage is increasing year after year, as more employers are seeking qualified Thai massage therapists to add to their staff and more clients are looking for therapists who practice this technique.
Learn more about the history of Thai massage, how you can incorporate this technique into your practice, and its benefits by taking our new online course: Thai Massage: Foundation and Basic Principles.