Thai Massage- Is it like traditional massage?
by Lisa Poole on Tuesday, February 12, 2019
I wanted to write a blog about Thai massage and how it is like table massage or maybe how its different. You should understand that I am the type of person that wants to know all the whys and hows and explanations of. So I start writing my blog finding definitions, sources and what not. I am struggling with it so I decide to clear my head and rest my aching neck. I lie on the floor with a couple of rubber balls under my neck and just breathe into it. While I am there feeling that hurt so good sensation I realize no one really cares “how Thai massage is like traditional table massage”. What everyone wants to know is; will it feel good, will I feel better, do I have to do anything?
SO….. What is Thai Massage, Thai Yoga, Thai Yoga Massage, Thai Bodywork, Thai Yoga Bodywork, Thai Massage and Bodywork….?
Those are all the names for the same thing. Thai massage is massage done on a Thai mat on the floor. You will not be naked under a sheet and no oil will be used. You need to wear loose fitting clothing (exercise like clothes). You will be lying and sitting on the floor. You will be asked to move and participate during the session (as in PTO - please turn over lol). There are assisted stretches, compression work, acupressure points and gentle holds. Basically it IS a massage done on the floor and it can also be done on the table (for thoses who cannot get on and off the floor). It is all about touch and bringing about a reduction of pain, stress, anxiety and leaving feeling better. Oh wait just like traditional table massage :)
I have taken many classes for table massage to learn “new and exciting” techniques. I have also taken a few Thai massage classes. Those fancy named table techniques are also done during a Thai massage. They may not have the same name but the touch and results are the same.
I was lucky earlier in February to have other therapist work on me. It is amazing when someone is just feeling what is going on in my body. To have them hold and wait for things to relax. I forget sometimes how good that is. When it is happening you do not care about the hows and whys. You just breathe and feel. So how is Thai massage different from table? It's not really. It is about finding a deep relaxed state where your tissues can let go and your mind can find some peace.
But if you want to know all the hows and whys I have broken it down.
Myofascial Release as done in Thai would be via compression or a gentle hold. As defined *link 1* “Myofascial Release is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.” As one instructor of mine puts it, you find the area of tension or “frozen chicken” and hold while listening to the body for changes.
Thai massage follow Sen energy lines. When you look at a diagram of Sen lines they are laid out very similar to how our bodies nerves run. These lines are also similar to acupressure points. “Acupressure is a massage therapy technique based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that uses finger pressure to mobilize chi — or life force energy — at specific spots on the body called acupressure points, which are also known as acupuncture points or acupoints.“*link 2*
The class I took in DNM (Dermo Neuro Modulating) talks about finding the area of tension and how to use the nervous system to bring pain relief. “Dermo Neuro Modulating is a structured, interactive approach to manual therapy that considers the nervous system of the patient from skin cell to sense of self. Techniques are slow, light, kind, intelligent, responsive and effective. Positioning of limbs and trunk affects deeper nerve trunks (by shortening and widening their container), and is combined with skin stretch directed toward cutaneous fields of nerves that branch outward into skin (which may draw neural structure further through its container).” *link 3* DNM in my opinion is similar to acupressure which is similar Sen lines. They may go about it differently but it all is about bringing pain relief by working with the nervous system.
Then you add in some stretching. Stretching is used in sports, yoga and massage. “Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle or tendon (or muscle group) is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility, and range of motion.” *link 4* Stretching can be done in both traditional table massage and Thai massage.
I took an orthopedic massage class (table work) where we used myofascial release techniques, nerve (DNM) techniques and incorporated stretches. Hmmmmm see what I am getting at. It is all about touch. Finding the tension and then using the right touch to bring about the desired results.
All of these modern western massage techniques have been used in Thai massage for over 2000 years. The western approach towards Thai massage can be very analytical and scientific. Where a traditional Thai therapist interpret the work as more spiritual, it is about the energy of man. Treating the whole mind and body.
Is Thai massage different than table massage? Yes in the way a therapist and client “think” about it, but when it comes to the ways of being touched it is all similar. Two therapist can go to the same class learn the same technique look like they are doing it the same but to the client it can feel very different. Massage is about finding someone you trust and you like their touch. Then you can be in the moment, your body can relax and let go. If that therapist does Thai massage or table it doesn’t really matter as long as there is trust and their touch is right for you.