Traditional Thai massage: Learn all about its history and benefits
The traditional Thai massage is a combination of yoga postures and Indian massage practices. It was added to UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage of Humanity list last 2019. This massage is more than 2,500 years old already and it is still popular today due to its physical and mental healing properties.
Compared to Western massages, Thai massage differs when it comes to massage methods. For instance, a Thai massage does not use oils or lotions. Also, if you are going to get this type of massage, you will still be clothed during the treatment. Though there is still body contact between you and the therapist, instead of rubbing on your muscles like in a Western massage, your body will be pulled, stretched and compressed in Thai massage.
At a Thai massage, therapists often focus on meditation since it is an integral part of the therapy for it to be effective. Here, you will wear loose clothes and lie on a firm mattress where you will receive your massage. At most places, you may get this massage together with a dozen people at the same time in one room. However, the ancient styles require only two people in one room: the masseuse and you.
When getting a Thai massage, you will be required to pose in several positions similar to yoga before your therapist stretches your body and applies deep and rhythmic pressures to it. It often follows certain lines in your body called ‘sen’.
To fit your needs, the therapist can adjust the standard procedure and massage rhythm. Often, a Thai massage can last up to two hours and may include massage methods such as:
- Pulling of ears, fingers and toes
- Cracking of knuckles
- Walking on your back
- Pressing your palm, thumb, finger and forearm
History of Thai massage
Shivago Kompara also known as the ‘Father Doctor’ is said to be the founder of Thai massage over 2,500 years ago. As per various ancient files, Sivago has amazing medical skills and massive knowledge in herbal medicine. In fact, he was reported to have treated many great people in his time such as Buddha.
However, the history of Thai massage is more complex than the one stated above. In fact, it is said to have derived from the influences of Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultures and traditions of medicine.
In addition, there is no single routine that is accepted by everyone as the Thai massage procedures vary from region to region. For instance, pressure points are emphasized in the Southern part of Thailand. On the other hand, the Northern part of Thailand is more focused on stretching.
How to become a Thai massage therapist
If you want to become a Thai massage therapist, you have to render at least 800 hours of training to acquire a professional license. Also, you must register at the Department of Health Service Support (HSS) of the Public Health Ministry. To qualify for a license, you can attend the free training offered by HSS or you can go to one of the 181 schools across Thailand that offer standard HSS courses.
You can go to Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School located on the temple grounds of Wat Pho. It is deemed to be the centre of Thai medicine and massage since 1955 and the first massage training school approved by the Thai Ministry of Education. Basic courses about Thai medicine such as Thai massage, midwife-nurse, Thai pharmacy and Thai medical practice are offered in Wat Pho.
The principles of Thai massage
Thai massage is different from other forms of massages as it is done using various body parts such as the palm, fingers, elbow and even feet. Often, when you become ill, the meridian or energy lines within your body are not flowing as freely as they should be. Getting a Thai massage will correct its flow and remove any blockages to bring your body back into its natural balance. To do this, the use of body parts aside from the hands is necessary.
When you get a Thai massage, the massage therapist has high intuition when it comes to sensing where to apply pressure to your body and how long it should take before moving on to the next one. She will often aim to stretch out tensed and tight muscles, which aids in a smoother flow of energy around your body.
Combining leverage and balance of their body weight, the massage therapist ensures that only the correct pressure is applied to your body. With the use of their body weight, they can release the stress and tension within your muscles.
Starting with meridian work, your therapist will do palm and thumb presses which warms your muscles and improves your blood flow. Then, muscle tensions are released by working around your joints and stretching your limbs. Through massaging your meridian or energy lines, you can get the physical and mental benefits of a Thai massage.
Things you should be aware of when taking a Thai massage
As per the Public Health Ministry of Thailand, a Thai massage can be risky for pregnant women especially during their first trimester. A doctor from the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine even said that getting a Thai massage during pregnancy may lead to miscarriage.
Moreover, those who are more than six months pregnant should still be wary when getting a Thai massage as there has been a case of a pregnant woman who suffered a miscarriage and fell into a coma while getting one.
In addition, there are times when a Thai massage is not a fully relaxing experience as the stretching involved can make some sore muscles more painful. However, with a good therapist, you can rest assured that you can get the most benefits from Thai massage.
Benefits of getting a Thai massage for both the client and the therapist
It has been said that a Thai massage is equally useful both for the client and the therapist. It can be a moving meditation for the massage therapist and a relaxing massage for the client.
One of the reasons why it has gained fame around the world is due to the wide range of benefits that people can get from it. Also, many people are reporting effective, quick and lasting results from getting one. Read on below to check out the benefits of getting and giving a Thai massage:
Benefits of getting a Thai massage
Leaves you feeling energized
A lot of people say that they feel like they just woke up from a deep slumber at the end of the Thai massage. This is because the massage restores flow in the sen or energy lines which gives a more energizing effect on your nervous system. Also, passive stretching will leave you feeling calm yet energized.
Improves your posture
You can observe that your posture improves as you regularly take a Thai massage. This is because you no longer have to restrict your posture due to the muscle pain and other fascial restrictions that you feel.
After a hectic day full of work, getting a Thai massage can greatly reduce your fatigue due to the slow and meditative massage method used by your therapist.
Relieves muscle pain
Tense and tight muscles can put pressure on your joints, causing muscle soreness that leads to back pain or shoulder pain. By getting a Thai massage, the pressure points targeted by your therapist allows your joints to relax and fall back into their correct position, thus relieving your muscle pain.
Benefits of giving a Thai massage
Reduces risk of injuries
The massage methods of a Thai massage does not strain the therapist unlike other forms of massage. This is because they just rely on their gravity and leverage instead of muscle strength. Thus, this is less tiring and has a lower risk of injuries and pain.
Greater career opportunities
The demand for qualified massage therapists that specialize in Thai massage is increasing more and more as it gains fame around the world. Since many spas and massage clinics are looking for extra staff, learning this skill can help you market yourself and get more career openings.
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