An Introduction to Traditional Thai Massage

What is Thai Massage? Traditional Thai massage uses gentle pressure and stretching techniques to relax the whole body. This is an ancient healing practice that originated in India. Unlike other massage techniques where a person passively lies on a bed, the client lies on the floor and participates more actively.

The fact about Thai massage that is commonly unknown is that it originates in India. Thai massage founder Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, a contemporary Buddha based Thai massage on the yogic principles of prana, otherwise known as invisible lines of energy from the pressure that run through the body. Originally regarded as a healing art, traditional Thai massage includes influences from both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine.

While a person of any age can get a Thai massage, it is not appropriate for everybody. People with certain health conditions, such as cancer or cardiovascular disease, those who are pregnant, and those who have just undergone surgery may want to seek medical advice first.

Difference Between Thai and Regular Body Massage

The main difference you’ll notice between a Thai massage and a regular body massage style is the lack of equipment. Whereas Swedish and deep tissue massages take place using a massage table, Thai massages take place on a floor mat to allow the client a more complete range of motion. Normally, the client lies on a mat or massage mattress on the floor, rather than a specialist massage table.

The therapist will slowly move your body through multiple stretching, using the weight and pressure of your body to assist the recipient once they are safely on the mat.

Oil isn’t used and your muscles aren’t usually kneaded, unlike Swedish massage therapy.

The therapist will use alternative methods of massage therapy by utilizing their hands, thumbs, elbows, and knees to stretch, pull, and rock various body zones. Don’t be surprised if they sit on you to stretch you into certain positions where applicable, this is typical of the massage and completely normal. With the practitioner holding or pulling you to maintain a pose, some types of stretches may involve going through yoga-like movements which you may be familiar with.

If any of your muscles become sore or tense, you may feel some discomfort and wish to stop or pause for a break. If this is ever the case, let your therapist know without hesitation or delay. They will use their skill and experience to adapt the procedure, relieving the pressure and identifying where stretching can be reduced.

It is always recommended to let the practitioner know before they start the massage session if you have an injury, or if some part of your body is particularly sensitive to pain. This will eliminate causing any further damage to the area and limit any pain or discomfort throughout your appointment.

What are the Health Benefits of Thai Massage?

Thai massage is a form of therapeutic touch that can benefit your health in numerous ways, many of which are supported by scientific studies. If you get a massage once a year, it will be relaxing, but it won’t undo a lifetime of muscle tension. Typically, once every week or two is ideal for keeping your muscle tissue pliable and in good shape.

There are specific common ailments that are known to benefit from Thai massage. Whilst some of these may be helped by a single treatment, it is worth considering an ongoing regular treatment, or series of treatments, to help address certain ailments or conditions.

Stress – many people feel stress at some time or another, and indeed, the stress in small quantities is not inherently bad for us. Long-term or extreme stress or stress that leads us to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms is however damaging to our health. Regular Thai massage has been shown to help to reduce stress. High levels of stress can lead to other illnesses or diseases, so it is vital to work on reducing your levels of stress, for your future health and well-being as well as your current state of mind.

Increased energy levels – Thai massage works on energy channels within the body. Often, these can become blocked which can impact our energy. Thai massage can help to increase energy levels, by releasing the tightness in the muscles which can restrict the energy flow within our bodies.

Flexibility – Thai massage works with yoga-like movement to gently encourage the body to stretch and flex. As with yoga, repeated stretching will help to increase the range of movement and flexibility within the body. As the Thai massage releases the tightness within your muscles, this too will help to increase your flexibility.

Back pain – back pain is extremely common. We spend many hours sitting; in our cars, our desks, and our sofas. Our sedentary lifestyle is not conducive to a healthy back. Often back pain is caused by muscle tightness, for example, the muscles around the hips and inner thighs. A regular Thai massage will help to reduce back pain, though it is important to consult a doctor if you have prolonged or consistent back pain.

Joint pain – Thai massage can help to improve the circulation of joint fluid, which can help to reduce joint pain. Joint pain can also be improved as the flexibility in the joints improves.

Headaches – those who suffer from repeated or regular headaches often turn to alternative therapies to help to improve their life. Thai massage has been shown to reduce the severity and frequency of headaches in sufferers.

How Does Thai Massage Work

In a traditional Thai massage, practitioners use their hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, and even their feet on occasion, to reduce tension in their client’s muscles. Thai massage is based on the principle that energy moves through your body via predictable pathways or lines commonly known as sens.

The practitioner will move your body into yoga-like positions in addition to pulling and rocking your body in various ways in an attempt to increase the flow of energy along with the sense. Thai massage can be distinguished from other types of the massage through the combination of stretching, movement, and pressure placed on specific body parts of the massage recipient.

If you seek a more active type of massage, where you move and participate instead of lying down throughout your massage then Thai massage is a plausible option for you to try.

How is Thai Massage Different from Other Massage Therapies?

Thai massage concentrates on moving your body around to optimise the energy channels within your body. In other forms of massage, you will lie still whilst the therapist kneads your muscles. In Thai massage, you will lie on the floor and the therapist moves your body into yoga-like stretches to work with your muscles and body in a different way. Traditional massage is more about relaxation, concentrating on specific areas of tension, whereas Thai massage focuses on improving the energy flows within the body, which has positive benefits for your general health and well-being. Much like Chinese medicine Thai massage concentrates on working on the body as a whole.

What to Expect from a Thai Yoga Massage?

A Thai massage takes place on the floor, rather than on a massage table. In a Thai massage, you will wear loose-fitting clothes. Your therapist will move your body in certain ways to release tension within your muscles and improve the energy flow through the channels in your body. As with all therapy, it is important that you tell your therapist about any sore or stiff points on your body prior to beginning your treatment. If you experience any discomfort during your treatment, you can stop at any time and take a break. Your therapist will move your body into yoga-like stretches which will help to improve the energy flows within your body as well as work on your flexibility which will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.


Thai massage is an ancient practice with many advantages that are advocated by modern-day research and the latest science. Thai massage is focused on improving the flow of energy throughout your body and is sometimes referred to as assisted yoga as it mimics the movements and is equally beneficial for both body and mind. It may reduce the intensity of your headaches, calm your anxieties, decrease lower back and joint pain, increase your flexibility, and both energise and revitalise you.

Your practitioner will move you through a gradual series of yoga-like positions in addition to working on the tension in your muscles. This is essential as Thai massage is anything but a passive treatment and you will need to be properly introduced to it in appropriate managed intervals.

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