Thai Massage: the technique and benefits

If you’ve been looking for something different from the typical massage experience, Thai massage may be perfect for you. It’s unlike most traditional western forms of massage but just as relaxing and beneficial, if not more so.

So what makes it so different?

Unlike common modalities of massage like Swedish and Deep Tissue, Thai massage doesn’t require you to undress and climb under linens on a massage table. In fact, Thai is usually performed fully clothed on a mat on the floor, but the techniques can be altered to work on a table if you prefer. There also isn’t any use of oils or lotions since it doesn’t include any of the kneading or gliding of a Swedish or Deep Tissue massage. Instead, Thai massage mostly employs stretching, rocking, pulling, and compression.

What Does It Feel Like?

Some people refer to it as a passive form of yoga, and some practitioners prefer to call the practice ‘Thai Yoga Massage’ since you’ll be stretched and placed into all sorts of positions to stretch muscles you didn’t even know needed stretched. Instead of just using my hands and forearms, I’ll also incorporate the use of my knees and feet to move you through a series of motions and stretches similar to a yoga sequence.

While traditional Thai massage, as performed in Thailand, can be somewhat rough and abrupt in application, westernized versions have been modified to be much more gentle so you shouldn’t feel pain at any point in your session. Just like with any other massage modality, be sure to speak up if the pressure needs to be adjusted for your comfort level.

What Are The Benefits?

Just like with most other forms of massage, Thai massage can increase lymphatic flow, improve sleep, decrease pain, and improve range of motion and flexibility. However, what separates Thai massage from other modalities is that this passive range of motion is extremely beneficial for those suffering from arthritis and other conditions that may leave the joints painful and stiff.

What To Expect?

  • Sessions can range from 1-2 hours depending on your needs.
  • Because this modality is performed fully clothed, be sure to wear something loose and comfortable, similar to what you would normally exercise in.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before. A light meal or snack is alright, but remember you’ll be stretched in many ways, often putting some pressure on your stomach.
  • Remember to speak up if you ever feel uncomfortable or experience pain.