Whenever I visit Thailand, I make sure I get a Thai Massage. I believe you do too. And I’m not referring to the saucy type, but rather the traditional Thai massage. This type of massage has become popular all over the world, and not just in this Eastern country where it originated.
The good thing about Thai massage is that you will not be required to be a passive participant. This is what everyone has in their mind: just lying covered with a blanket and the masseuse kneads your muscle tensions away. That is not how this particular type works.
A typical Thai massage session combines acupuncture, aided yoga postures as well as Indian Ayurvedic practices. It then helps to heal and relax your body.
Unlike some of the massages which involve rubbing of muscles, Thai massage involves pulling, stretching, rocking, and compression of the body. Perhaps you are wondering if this massage is really worth the hype.
I will try to enumerate for you some of the benefits of Thai Massage from a personal perspective as I have had several sessions all over the world.
What Is Thai Massage, And What Does It Feel Like?
Invented by a Buddhist Monk physician in Northern India, Thai Massage found its way to Thailand where it gained popularity over 2,500 years ago. It involves moving your body into various positions resembling those of yoga.
It may seem odd at first, but believe me; it’s more rigorous in nature than other forms of massage are. That is what makes it so energizing. The Thais have a belief that ten energy line does exist in one’s body that is essential in the treatment process.
Despite its spiritual nature, Thai massage is not meant for religious purposes, but rather to spur your spiritual uplifting. After a couple of minutes, you start to feel an improved mental and physical health.
The use of pressure to perform a full body adjustment, muscle stretching, and manipulation, therefore, confers you to an improved overall wellbeing at a deeper level. In addition to the body movements, a therapist/practitioner might also incorporate acupuncture into the sessions.
A traditional type of Thai massage does not involve the use of balms and oils. In fact, a recipient often stays fully clothed. There are variants these days that require you to have loose fitting clothes on because of the yogic movements. Modern music, heat, scents, and herbal poultices are currently used to create a calming effect on recipients.
The Benefits of Thai Massage
As an avid fan myself, Thai massage provides several science-backed benefits to a recipient. In some quarters, people believe that these benefits are just claims. That is far from the truth. As I am about to show you, all these have a scientific basis on them.
1. Improved Energy Flow
Thai Massage works on the belief that the human body comprises of 10 main energy lines that can effectively treat internal organs and the body at large. The blockage of these lines is what is believed to cause diseases and sicknesses.
One of the causes of energy lines blockage is tightened muscles. That is why you feel pain, your body becomes inflexible, and feel stiffened as well. If left unattended to, connecting tissues become shortened thereby affecting organ functions, immunity as well as body posture.
That is where the pressing technique of Thai Massage comes into play. By applying pressure to the stiff points, the muscles are relieved, which in turn allow for increased blood flow. Better blood circulation means increased nutrients and oxygen supply to body organs.
Enhanced energy flow through muscle stretching also has the spiral effect of giving the body its natural ability to get rid of wastes. Metabolic byproducts, carbon dioxide, and toxins are such wastes.
2. Relief from Pain
A 2015 research published in the Journal of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice notes that Thai massage is an effective way of pain relief. The research states that one of the relaxing, alternative methods of dealing with temporary relief from chronic pain is indeed Thai Massage.
In the course of the six studies conducted in this research, the people reviewed reported to have experienced between 25 and 80 percent reduced pain. Their relief lasted for about 15 weeks after having a session of Thai massage. It works in the same way as a foam roller in relieving pain.
More specifically, a 2012 study reveals that people with a painful condition called scapulocostal syndrome are the greatest beneficiaries. This study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement shows that a 30 minutes Thai massage for a period of 3 weeks reduced the pain intensity, muscle tension as well pains threshold.
The study then compared recipients of this type of massage with traditional methods of treatment therapy. Based on the presenting evidence, it concluded that Thai massage yielded the most benefits in regards to pain relief.
3. Reduced Stress
It is not only other types of massages that reduces one’s stress levels. Thai massage triggers the release of salivary alpha-amylase enzymes found in the oral cavity. The level of this hormone is a common indicator of stress levels in a person.
Someone experiencing high-stress levels has their alpha-amylase enzymes levels up the roof. Scheduling for a Thai massage brings down the enzyme levels, thereby theoretically reducing stress.
In addition, the massage has been found to reduce the amounts of cortisol, a stress hormone, thereby generating a relaxing sensation in individuals. A study posted in the Journal of Medical Science Monitor Basic Research confirms this assertion.
This 2015 study found out that a Thai massage was more effective in reducing stress indicators than simply having a rest to reduce psychological stress.
4. Treats Tension-Type Headaches and Migraines
Getting a traditional type Thai massage provides relief from headaches and other tension-related conditions. This is a benefit that I have personally experienced alongside the stress reduction and relaxation benefits.
There is a specific technique a practitioner uses to apply pressure on specific body meridians. This technique is called the court type Thai massage. Numerous studies have confirmed that it provides an effective alternative treatment for those suffering from chronic tension headaches.
These studies attribute the relief to blood and lymph circulation which in turn relaxes the sympathetic nervous system. Other studies have tried to compare the effectiveness of Thai massage with placebo ultrasound treatments, of which the former achieved significant results than the latter.
In other words, the massage increases your pressure point threshold for withstanding pain. This threshold is necessary before the onset of pain around your upper back as well as posterior neck muscles.
5. Increased Motion Ranges
The fundamental principles of Thai massage hinges on yoga poses to stretch the body. Accompanying presses on pressure points resulting from stiff muscles work in the same way as Swedish massage or giving yourself a rubdown with a handheld massager.
What this does is relieve tensions from muscles and ligaments that join bone at joints. You then develop more motion ranges as your limbs become more flexible than before. Ankle and shoulder rotation becomes easier, just as flexion after a Thai massage session.
6. A Great Way of Providing Relief from Osteoarthritis
Because Thai massage has a direct impact on your musculoskeletal system, it is then an ideal source of relief for patients with osteoarthritis condition. It causes great discomfort to patients due to the accompanying pain felt on your neck, knees, hands, and lower back.
According to research, sessions of either traditional Thai massage or Swedish massage lower the severity of the resulting conditions. Using a 6-minute walk test, recipients of Thai massage fared considerably better than strengthening exercises. The effects were generally similar to those provided by standard physical therapy.
7. A Great Way of Relaxing During Stroke Rehabilitation
A stroke has debilitating effects. You could be left with defects such as motor problems, depression, emotional instability, and depression. At such times, you need ways of helping you curb the detrimental effects as you rehabilitate.
There are reports of better sleep, happiness, reduced pain, reduced muscle spasms, and reduced muscle stiffness after undergoing sessions of Thai massage. Nurses and caregivers of stroke recoverees attest to these improvements.
Thai Massage Precautions
Thai massage differs from most of the other types due to its rigorous nature. Due to the increased movements, certain groups of people should not schedule for Thai massage therapy. If you have any of these health conditions, I would suggest you don’t schedule an appointment.
- Those who have had surgical procedures in the recent past and are still in recovery.
- Those who are pregnant
- Anyone suffering from hypertension
- Those suffering from acute illnesses
- Anyone recovering from an orthopedic condition
- Cancer patients
- Cardiovascular diseases
- People suffering from dermatitis
- Fever higher than 380C
- During your menstrual cycle (it’s a pity as this is the time I mostly feel like having one)
- Anyone with a wounded area
The benefits of Thai massage seem to outweigh those from other types of massage. The increased body movements and yoga-like stretches help loosen up joints, improves body fluid circulation, and relaxes the mind.
If you are a civilian or an athlete, then a Thai massage would be exceptionally beneficial to you. What you need to do is ensure that you don’t have any condition that may be aggravated by the massage. Again, only use therapy as a complementary treatment and make a point of talking to your doctor first to determine your suitability.