Also referred to as the yoga massage, Thai massage is a unique system of massage therapy that originated out of Thailand some 2,500 years ago. It’s characterized by kneading, rolling and even pulling on various parts of the client’s body. Unlike most forms of massage, however, a specialist performing a Thai massage may use his or her thumbs, palms, knees, elbows and forearms. To learn more about this unique system of massage and the numerous benefits it offers, keep reading.
Thai Massage vs Swedish Massage: What’s The Difference?
It’s a common assumption that the terms “Swedish massage” and “Thai massage” refer to the same practice. While they both involve the kneading of muscles and tissue, there are several nuances between them that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Thai massage, for instance, focuses on precise trigger points throughout the body to promote healthy energy flow.
The massage therapist will target these trigger points to relieve tension, improve flexibility, promote blood flow, and to release fluid buildups through manual lymphatic drainage (MLD).
Sen Energy Flow
Traditional Thai belief says that good health originates from the natural flow of energy through the body. When a person’s energy flow is obstructed, he or she is more likely to succumb to illness, develop chronic disorders, experience pain, etc. Thai massage works to evenly distribute the body’s energy through trigger points or channels known as “Sen.”
While the exact number of Sen remains unknown, the general belief is that falls somewhere alongside the Chinese Qi meridians – which are frequently used in acupuncture. The massage therapist locates these Sen points, pressing down, stretching or using various other method of manipulation to distribute the client’s energy.
What’s The Purpose of Thai Massage?
There are a number of key benefits associated with Thai massage, one of which is its ability to treat and prevent muskuskeletal disorders (MSD). MSDs are viewed as one of the leading causes of disability, accounting for nearly a third of all worker injuries and illnesses in 2011 (source).
So, what exactly are muskuskeletal disorders? MSDs are essentially any type of injury involving the joints, ligaments, nerves, tendons and/or ligaments. For example, a warehouse worker may develop an MSD from constantly lifting heavy objects. Each time he or she bends to pick up a box or object, it places stress on the spin and supportive structures. Thai massage alleviates the pain and discomfort of MSDs such as this.
But Thai massage is able to treat much more than just MSDs. The therapeutic practice reduces stress, flushes toxins from the body, improved mood, and promotes an all-around healthier body – physically and mentally.
Photo Credit: By Tara Angkor Hotel (Flickr: Classical Thai Massage) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons