Thai massage benefits, techniques, what to expect (2023)

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Thai massage, which originated in India, has been around for over 2,500 years. Originally considered a healing art, traditional Thai massage includes influences from traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.

Unlike typical Western-type massages, it does not involve lying on a massage bed while a masseur applies oil to your body and massages your muscles and pressure points.

Instead, you lie fully clothed on a mat on the floor while the practitioner uses stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques to relieve tension, promote relaxation, and improve flexibility and circulation.

Sometimes called assisted yoga, Thai massage focuses on improving the flow of energy throughout the body.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the science-backed benefits of traditional Thai massage and what to expect if you opt for this type of massage.

Thai massage can benefit your health in many ways, many of which are supported by scientific studies.

Below, we explore six key research-backed benefits.

if you havemigrainethe experiencetension headaches, traditional Thai massage can help relieve your symptoms.

In several small studies involving patients with chronic headaches, researchers found that Thai massage reduced the intensity of both.migrainemitension headaches.

(Video) The Many Benefits of Thai Massage

If you're interested in trying non-pharmaceutical remedies for headache relief, it's worth noting that researchers have concluded that the benefits of Thai massage can last anywhere from several days to as long as 15 weeks.

Thai massage can be an effective, non-pharmaceutical means of reducingback pain.

researchersin Thailand studied the effects of Thai massage in a group of 120 people with non-specific low back pain. Half of the test group were treated with Thai massage and the rest with other conservative management techniques including joint mobilization (a technique that involves applying pressure), warm compresses, and manual stretching of painful areas.

Both groups were treated twice a week for 4 weeks and both groups experienced significant pain relief.

Of othersstudiesfound that thai massage reduces back pain associated with trigger points (tense and painful muscle groups) in the upper back.

Thai massage can improve the function of your joints if you experience pain andrigiditywhen you move

In a study,researchersused a program of Thai massage combined with stick exercises to study the effects on people with knee arthritis. The researchers found that the study participants felt less pain and walked more easily after the 8-week program.

in otherfor studyInvolving 60 patients with knee osteoarthritis, researchers found that 3 weeks of Thai massage provided the same pain relief as 3 weeks of ibuprofen.

4. Increases flexibility and range of motion

(Video) The Biological Benefits of Frequent Massage

If your range of motion and flexibility are affecting your athletic performance or making it difficult to move, Thai massage can help you move more easily.

Thirty-four soccer players participated in ato tryto test the effects of Thai massage on sports performance. After receiving Thai massage three times over a 10-day period, the soccer players showed significant improvement in their ability to perform sit-and-reach exercises.

The researchers hypothesize that the increased flexibility may be because Thai massage has the ability to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles. This, in turn, can help reduce pain and lessen muscle adhesions.

The researchers also found that Thai massage treatments improved players' speed and agility on the field.

One of the most appealing aspects of massage therapy is the feeling of calm and relaxation it can bring.

Although Thai massage is more energetic than other forms of massage therapy, it has been shown to decreaseanxietyand increase a systemic sense of calm.

Studiesfound that people who receive Thai massage have lower scores on measures of psychological stress after treatment.

Brain scans of people who received Thai massage treatmentsshowed more relaxation and much less anxietythan people who have undergone physiotherapy treatments for the same conditions.

Thai massage incorporates full-body movements, many of which are similar to yoga. For this reason, many people report that they come away from Thai massage sessions feeling not only relaxed, but also rejuvenated.

(Video) Introduction to Thai Massage

In afor study, the researchers compared the effects of Thai massage andswedish massagein people who were tired.

They interviewed the participants after the massages and found that those who received the Thai massage felt mentally refreshed and physically energized.

The study size was small, so more research is needed to confirm these results.

In a traditional Thai massage, practitioners use their hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, and sometimes even their feet to reduce tension in the muscles.

Thai massage is based on the idea that energy moves through the body along predictable lines or paths known as senses.

To increase the flow of energy through the senses, the practitioner will move their body in yoga postures, as well as pull and sway their body in various ways.

The combination of stretching, movement and pressure is what distinguishes Thai massage from other types of massage.

Thai massage may be a good option if you want a more active type of massage where you move and participate rather than lie down during the massage.

With Thai massage, you may wear your own loose-fitting clothing, or the practitioner may ask you to change into uniform-like clothing: a loose-fitting cotton blouse and drawstring pants. You keep your clothes on during the massage.

Usually you lie on a massage mat or mattress on the floor, not a massage table. Once on the mat, your doctor will slowly move your body through several stretches, using your body's weight and pressure to help you.

(Video) Thai Massage Demonstration

Unlike a Swedish massage, no oil is used and the muscles are not usually kneaded. Instead, the practitioner will use the hands, thumbs, elbows, and knees to stretch, pull, and balance different parts of the body. They can even sit on you to stretch you into certain positions.

Some types of stretching may involve yoga-like movements with the practitioner holding or pulling to maintain a pose.

If your muscles are sore or tight, you may experience some discomfort. If you do, tell your doctor so the pressure and stretch can be reduced.

If you have an injury or any part of your body is particularly sensitive to pain, inform the professional before beginning the massage session.

Because Thai massage has profound effects on your circulatory system, check with your doctor before scheduling a massage, especially if you have:

  • heart disease orcoronary artery disease
  • hypertension
  • conditions that affect your spine, includingosteoporosisand neurological diseases
  • diabetes
  • recent surgery
  • open wounds
  • Cancer

Thai massage is not recommended for pregnant women.

Additionally, medical experts recommend that you avoid massage if you have:

  • bleeding disorders
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • Burns
  • thrombocytopenia

Thai massage is an ancient practice with many benefits backed by modern science. It can reduce the severity of your headaches, decrease lower back and joint pain, increase your flexibility, calm your anxieties, and energize your mind and body.

Thai massage is not a passive treatment. Your practitioner will guide you through a gradual series of yoga poses, as well as working the tension in your muscles.

Thai massage may not be safe for everyone. If you have an underlying health problem, ask your doctor if this traditional form of massage is safe for you.

(Video) Table Thai Massage Therapy Techniques For Feet, Legs, Thighs & Glutes – Meera Hoffman


What to expect when you get a Thai massage? ›

Unlike a Swedish massage, oil isn't used and your muscles typically aren't kneaded. Instead, the practitioner will use their hands, thumbs, elbows, and knees to stretch, pull, and rock different parts of your body. They may even sit on you to stretch you into certain positions.

Are you clothed during a Thai massage? ›

You will remain fully clothed for a Thai massage, so you should wear clothing that is comfortable and can stretch easily.

Why does my body hurt after a Thai massage? ›

It's normal to feel sore after a massage. After stimulating muscles that you may not usually use, you might experience delayed onset muscle soreness. This is a physical response to the inflammation as your body heals. This can happen if your muscles aren't accustomed to massage.

Do you shower before Thai massage? ›

Take a warm shower

First, the warm water will begin allowing your mind and body to relax making it more open to receiving massage. By cleaning your body prior to a massage, you can also mitigate some personal hygiene insecurities, if you have any, plus it is greatly appreciated by your massage therapist.

What clothes do you take off for a full body massage? ›

For a full-body massage, you can opt to keep your pants on or go completely in the buff. You'll find that most massage therapists are very skilled at protecting your modesty and making you feel comfortable; you'll never have to uncover anything you'd rather not.

Do I need to tip Thai massage? ›

However, as a customer, you should know how much to give to make them feel happy, most Thai Massagers feel happy if you give them around 15% of the massage price per hour.

How long does a Thai massage take? ›

Thai Massage Quick Facts

Duration: In Thailand a treatment can often last up to 2 hours however in Western countries typically a Thai Massage will last between 30 and 90 minutes. Body Parts treated: Back, gluteal muscles, legs (front and back), arms, head, and shoulders.

Is Thai massage better than deep tissue? ›

If you're looking to relieve tension, chronic pain, or sports injuries, a deep tissue massage might be a better fit; meanwhile, Thai massages are great for improved movement, energy boosts, and circulation.

Should you shower after Thai massage? ›

Taking a shower or bath at this time can potentially lead to skin damage or inflammation. So the answers here are to avoid showering and bathing for a few hours both before AND after a massage, cupping, or spa-type session.

How often should you get a Thai massage? ›

We would recommend having a Thai Massage two or three times a month so that your body can get the maximum benefit from the massage treatment.

Do you need to undress for Thai massage? ›

The massage therapist does not perform a Thai massage using oil, as unlike many other massage traditions it's not based on skin to skin contact. Rather than strip down, massage patients remain fully clothed during a Thai massage.

Who should avoid Thai massage? ›

People with certain health conditions, such as cancer or cardiovascular disease, those who are pregnant, and those who have just undergone surgery should not get a Thai massage, as the technique could pose health risks.

What happens inside your body after a massage? ›

Massage stimulates receptors that transmit sensory signals to the central nervous system, and this in turn causes the reduction in tension in muscles and the feeling of relaxation. Massage causes the release of endorphins which has been shown to reduce pain and muscle tension.

Can massage therapists feel knots? ›

Massage therapists are trained to feel where knots occur by looking for tension in the back, neck and shoulders. They find this tension and release it by applying deep compression with their thumb, fingers or elbow, and holding for 20-30 seconds.

Can a Thai massage do damage? ›

There are risks of plaque buildup in your blood arteries and this plaque might break when the therapist exerts pressure on your body while massaging. Blood clots will be released and can travel through the circulatory system to your brain, heart, lungs and other sensitive organs and damage them.

Why do I feel tired after Thai massage? ›

You may feel tired, as if you want to lie down and take a nap,this is completely normal. If you can, make sure you have nowhere to go and nothing to do after your massage. Massage is not just work on the body; it is work on the mind too. It helps to destress and relax you; this in turn may make you feel tired.

What clothes for Thai massage? ›

Thai Massage has a lot of movement and stretching. Thus, it requires a loose comfortable clothing. Leave the leather pants and pencil skirts at home! The best practice is to wear a t-shirt and yoga pants, sweatpants, or shorts.

What not to do during a massage? ›

What NOT to Say / Do with Your Massage Therapist
  1. Ask your massage therapist to go see a movie / come to your house / etc. ...
  2. Excessive noises. ...
  3. Comment on our looks/attractiveness. ...
  4. Poke your head out of the room to let us know you're ready. ...
  5. Start undressing while we are still in the room. ...
  6. Touch us.
Jul 3, 2020

Do I tip a massage therapist? ›

Since tips are standard protocol for massage therapists, you should assume a 20 percent tip in any massage or spa treatment situation (unless a self-employed therapist specifically tells you their rate is all-inclusive). Not sure? When in doubt, always ask, says Post, who says tipping is always appreciated.

How much do you tip for a full body massage? ›

We spoke to two etiquette experts, who suggested leaving a 15% to 20% tip, if you're able. Twenty percent is generous for the massage therapist and easy on the brain, which may be feeling more relaxed than ever after a massage. The math is straightforward.

What not to do before a massage? ›

Ten Things Not To Do Before a Massage
  1. Don't Sunburn. ...
  2. Don't "Caffeinate" ...
  3. Don't Eat a Large Meal. ...
  4. Don't Run a Marathon. ...
  5. Don't Apply Lotion or Oil. ...
  6. Don't Apply Topical Medications, Patches or Tapes. ...
  7. Don't Take Prescription Pain Medication.
Jul 21, 2015

Should you talk during a massage? ›

Is it okay to talk during a massage? Yes it is, as the client you can choose to converse with your therapist whenever you want. If you want to talk, feel chatty or just want to be heard it can be an important part of the letting go process.

Is 20 baht a good tip? ›

A 20 Baht tip for the bell-boy or porter who carries your bags to your room is fairly standard. I also think it's nice to leave a small tip for the room maid at the end of your stay. Hotel workers may only make 200 Baht a day or less and although they won't always expect a tip it will be appreciated.

How much do you tip for a sensual massage? ›

Standard tip rate

The general guideline on tipping for a massage is around 25 percent of the total cost. It's a standard that's pretty similar to tipping at a restaurant. At a minimum, you should tip around 20 percent.

How much do you tip after an hour massage? ›

In general, the 20% rule applies to tipping your massage therapist. So, if you're wondering how much to tip for a $100 massage, you'd want to tip $20. If you're considering how much to tip for a 60-minute massage (that costs $100) – you'd still tip $20. However, generosity is generally very appreciated.

Is Thai massage better than regular massage? ›

Benefits: Thai massage is more dynamic and focuses on enhancing the energy flow. It has a bit more of a healing affect than Swedish massage, which is more focused on relaxation, mainly using long strokes and rubbing techniques to relieve stress and pain.

Which massage is better Thai or Swedish? ›

Both styles can lower the resting heart rate, relax muscles and relieve back pain. The inclusion of stretching in Thai massages may increase the range of motion more than Swedish massage. Both styles are beneficial to health and are known to reduce anxiety as well as to improve moods.

What should I drink after a Thai massage? ›

Myth 2: As long as I feel fine, there's no need to drink water after a massage. Truth: Drinking water after a massage is important and reduces soreness. One way to boost your odds for not being sore the next day is increase your water intake after your appointment.

How long are you sore after a Thai massage? ›

Inflammation and discomfort usually last a few hours to about a day and a half. The same things you do to treat sore muscles after exercise may help soreness after a massage. Massage does not have to hurt to be effective. Many massage therapists are trained in multiple techniques that range in pressure and timing.

How long after a massage will I feel better? ›

Ideally, post-massage soreness should subside within a day. This is all a normal part of allowing your body to recover and enjoy the wellness that comes with massage therapy. The more regular you are, the less frequently you will experience pain post your massage sessions or maybe even never again!

What are the disadvantages of Thai massage? ›

There are a few potential risks of Thai massage, just like any form of massage. It may cause changes in your heart rate. This could be harmful if you have a heart condition. There is also a small risk of injury to muscles or bones from a rough massage.

What parts of the body should not be massaged? ›

Contraindications of Massage Therapy
  • Cuts or open wounds.
  • Bruises.
  • Varicose veins.
  • Broken bones.
  • Burns.
  • Some skin conditions.

What happens if you don't drink water after a massage? ›

What happens if you don't drink water after a massage? The simple answer is you might experience pain, fatigue, and what is commonly called the DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, after your massage.

Why do I feel strange after a massage? ›

A deep tissue massage usually leaves the muscles feeling sore, as if clients have done intense exercise, and when there is muscle soreness, the immune system naturally activates T-Cells to try to repair those muscles. As such, this immune system response can make some clients feel as if they are ill.

What happens to your brain during a massage? ›

Recent studies have shown that massage stimulates activity in the left side of the brain, which is the side that is most active when a person is pleased, happy, or excited. The right side of the brain, in contrast, is often activated when an individual is sad, stressed, or depressed.

What should I wear for a Thai massage? ›

First and foremost, you should wear loose, comfortable clothes that doesn't restrict any movements, like you would for an active athletic activity. If you have them, flexible garments, like stretchy yoga attire, work really well.

What is the difference between Thai massage and regular massage? ›

Rather than just using hands, fists, forearms and elbows — the standard tools of the Swedish masseuse — the at large Thai masseuse may use legs and feet during the massage. Oftentimes, they will use a combination of both to gain leverage as they initiate deep stretches of the client's arms, legs, hips, and shoulders.

How much do you tip on a $50 massage? ›

How much should you tip for a $50 massage? The standard tipping rate for a massage is 20%. So, for a $50 massage, you can tip $10. You can increase or lower your tip depending on how satisfied you are with their services.

How much do you tip Thai massage? ›

However, as a customer, you should know how much to give to make them feel happy, most Thai Massagers feel happy if you give them around 15% of the massage price per hour.

Do you tip after a massage? ›

Since tips are standard protocol for massage therapists, you should assume a 20 percent tip in any massage or spa treatment situation (unless a self-employed therapist specifically tells you their rate is all-inclusive). Not sure? When in doubt, always ask, says Post, who says tipping is always appreciated.

Which is better deep tissue or Thai massage? ›

If you're looking to relieve tension, chronic pain, or sports injuries, a deep tissue massage might be a better fit; meanwhile, Thai massages are great for improved movement, energy boosts, and circulation.

How often should I get a Thai massage? ›

We would recommend having a Thai Massage two or three times a month so that your body can get the maximum benefit from the massage treatment.

Why does Thai massage feel so good? ›

Thai massage combines compression, acupressure, and passive stretching. These increase the range of motion in your joints and muscles. This can also improve your posture. Helps with back pain.

What should you do immediately after a massage? ›

So, if you missed your massage therapist's little chat, here's a quick recap of what you should be doing post-massage.
  1. DRINK WATER. Massage increases your blood circulation and hydrates your muscle tissues. ...
  2. STRETCH. ...
  3. EAT. ...
  4. REST. ...
  5. HAVE A BATH. ...
Jul 11, 2016

How should you feel after a Thai massage? ›

After a Thai massage, a person may feel very relaxed. However, they need to keep in mind that their muscles have been worked, stretched, and prodded. After a Thai massage, a person should rest and drink plenty of water. There are no guidelines for how often a person should get a Thai massage.


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