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Thai massage began in India more than 2,500 years ago and is regarded as a healing art. Its founder is īvaka Komārabhacca, the personal physician of the Buddha and the Indian King. Its focus is to improve the flow of energy throughout the body. It is unlike traditional Western-style massages that involve lying on a massage bed whilst a massage therapist kneads muscles and manipulates pressure points. Thai massage practitioners use a floor mat and engage in a series of stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques to release tension, improve circulation, and increase flexibility. It sometimes is referred to as assisted yoga because of the movements used during a massage session.
There are many benefits to Thai massage.
- It is effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of migraines and tension headaches.
- It is a conservative method for treating lower back pain and tight, painful muscle clusters common in the upper back.
- It can improve joint function and relieve stiffness and pain.
- It helps increase flexibility and range of motion to improve athletic performance or relieve pain.
- It can restore energy and relieve anxiety.
Thai Massage Techniques
Thai massage therapists use their elbows, forearms, hands, and thumbs to reduce and relieve muscle tension in the body. It is not uncommon for some to use their feet during certain movements. The purpose of Thai massage techniques is to increase energy flow along the natural energy pathways in the body known as the sens. Thai massage practitioners gently guide the body into various positions while pulling and rocking it. It is this combination of movement, stretching, and pressure that differentiates Thai massage from other massage forms.
What to Expect During a Thai Massage
Be prepared to actively participate in the experience. Unlike with other types of massage that require an individual to lay still on a massage table, Thai massage requires active engagement as the practitioner moves your body from one position to another.
Other points of difference:
- Massage oil is used during a Thai massage with a combination of kneading the muscles and the systematic stretching and flexing of your body in guided movements.