Traditional Thai Massage
How can traditional Thai massage nourish your soul?
Traditional Thai massage (TTM) is a deep, full-body treatment that combines pressure techniques and stretching or rocking manoeuvres, often starting at the feet and progressing up to the head. It aims to enrich both the body and soul by strengthening the muscles, restoring energy, and relaxing the mind and body.
TTM has been practised for over 2500 years and was influenced by the healing systems found in China, India and Southeast Asia. These origins make it one with deep spiritual roots, in addition to physical therapy. Some academics believe a key element of TTM is borne from the Buddhist healing principle of “giving from two hands and the heart”, which involves the therapist focusing energies in their hands and sending loving-kindness or compassion from their heart to the other person.
The focus of TTM is on creating harmony and balance in the body, which is achieved by focusing the massage along the ten main ‘sen’ (or energy) lines through which the body’s life force flows. It is believed that the pressing and massaging along these sen lines removes energy blockages, eliminates pain and restores normal tissue mobility.
To ensure you receive the highest standard of treatment, choose a practitioner registered with a professional association such as Massage & Myotherapy Australia. This national organisation is committed to upholding excellence in practice, accepting only massage therapists with formal qualifications and requiring its members to abide by its code of ethics.
Benefits of traditional Thai massage
Well-known benefits include lowered stress levels and increased blood circulation. Research into the clinical effectiveness of TTM is continuing worldwide although it has been reported to assist with chronic back pain, which is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Studies also suggest it can be as effective as joint mobilisation in bringing about short-term reduction in lower back pain.
A clinical study found that administering traditional Thai Massage to basketball players during match breaks decreased anxiety, increased mental clarity and the movement and elasticity in athletes’ joints and muscles – leading to improved performance in the second half of the game.
The physical effects of TTM have also been shown to positively impact the walking ability of those with knee osteoarthritis and increase upper limb muscle strength in patients with Parkinson’s disease. There is also evidence to show it may provide psychological benefits for people experiencing depression by causing a reduction in their heart rate and anxiety.
Traditional Thai massage may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis
- Back pain
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Energy and vitality
- Foot, heel and ankle issues
- Joint issues
- Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
- Osteoporosis and bone density
- Sports performance
- Stress and tension
What to expect from a traditional Thai massage session
Before a session begins, a qualified therapist should ask you questions about your health history and obtain your informed consent to the treatment. You should also inform your therapist of any injuries or areas that cause you concern. To prepare for the session, you are likely to be asked to wear or change into comfortable clothing to aid movement during the massage.
A session generally lasts between an hour or two, and is often performed in a quiet and meditative environment to allow you to fully relax. Unlike other forms of massage such as remedial massage, TTM is often performed on the floor, with you actively participating in the massage to facilitate the stretching. Therapists may also use ‘the hands, elbows, knees and feet in unique and innovative ways’ during the massage to achieve the desired effect.
Traditional Thai massage differs from other massage techniques in that oil is not usually applied, except to heal certain conditions such as muscle trauma. You may also be offered the option to have heat applied, for example through sauna treatment or herbal compresses, as the application of heat is believed to aid blood flow to any affected areas.
As with any exercise or wellness program, please consult your medical professional before commencing traditional Thai massage. If you have an injury, health issue, or any concerns at all, do advise your therapist who will be happy to address these and make sure the session is personalised to your individual requirements.