The Difference between a Thai and Swedish Massage?
For those of you that may be experiencing a Thai style massage for the first time, you might be in for some delightful surprises. There are a number of key differentiators between the Thai and asian massage therapy techniques, and the more “orthodox” methods traditionally exercised by western massage therapists. The majority of these distinctions will be evident immediately, and a couple may be scandalous! But as you relax and ease yourself into the massage you’ll soon realise that the Thai Style massage exists for very good reasons.
THAI MASSAGE VS. SWEDISH MASSAGE
The primary difference that you will first notice between a traditional Thai massage and the Swedish massage styles is the absence of any equipment. Where the Swedish and deep tissue massages are performed on a massage table, Thai massages are generally carried out on a floor mat. This gives the patient a much larger range of motion — which is quite useful, as unlike the Swedish massage styles, you will not just be lying on your stomach or back when you have a traditional Thai Sabai massage.
Your massage therapist will receive an even greater advantage by working on the ground as opposed to being hunched over a table. When a Thai massage is being performed, the masseuse manoeuvres all around the patient which in turn allows them to access a wider range of angles over each individual area of the body, even in such cases when the patient is much larger than the massage therapist.
While the Swedish style masseuse uses their hands, fists, forearms and elbows the Thai style masseuse may use legs and feet during the massage. On occasion, the masseuse will use a combination of both arms and legs to gain extra leverage as they initiate deep stretches of the patient’s legs, arms, shoulders and hips.
What’s included in a Thai massage?
A Thai massage typically includes a combination of yoga-like stretches, applied pressure using the hands, feet, elbows and knees, and assisted yoga postures. The massage therapist may also use traditional Thai massage tools such as a wooden stick to apply pressure to specific points on the body. The massage usually takes place on a mat on the floor, rather than a massage table. The focus is on energy lines, or sen, and the therapist uses a combination of gentle and deep strokes to stimulate circulation and release tension.
Sometimes called the Lazy Man’s Yoga
There is so much stretching involved in a standard Thai massage that the massage is sometimes referred to as the Lazy Man’s Yoga or a Thai yoga massage. A similar level of relaxation and stretching of muscles may be experienced after a Thai massage, without the exertion of a full-on yoga class. The patient simply relaxes and breathes while the massage therapist turns and folds legs, hips and arms into stretching poses thus making the patient feel calm, relaxed and rejuvenated.
What are the health benefits of Thai massage?
Stress relief: Thai massage can help to reduce stress and tension in the body and mind.
Improved flexibility: The stretches and yoga-like positions used in Thai massage can help to increase flexibility and range of motion.
Pain relief: Thai massage can be effective in reducing pain and discomfort in the muscles and joints.
Improved circulation: The massage techniques used in Thai massage can help to improve blood flow and oxygenation to the body’s tissues.
Increased energy: Thai massage can help to balance the body’s energy systems and promote a sense of well-being.
Improved sleep: Thai massage can help to improve the quality of sleep and reduce insomnia.
Improved immune function: Thai massage can help to improve the function of the immune system.
It’s worth noting that the benefits of massage may vary depending on the individual, and certain conditions may not be suitable for Thai massage. It’s always good to consult with a healthcare professional before trying this or any other form of massage.
Thai massage re-energises
Research has shown that Thai massage can help to increase the recipients physical energy levels. On one trial study the effects of Thai and Swedish massages were examined in people who were experiencing forms of fatigue. The findings revealed that the Thai massage increased energy and mental stimulation, whilst the Swedish massage was found to be more likely to improve relaxation and sleep.
The Sabai Thai massage technique which is some 2500 years old is based on the concept of energy lines, or Sen. Most Thai massage practitioners believe that there are various levels of Sen, or channels, of energy within the body.
The channels of energy correspond to various parts of the body, such as the bones, muscles, tissue, blood, and the body’s nerves. Some channels are also thought to affect the mind and consciousness.
One theory suggests that tighter muscles can cause blockages within the channels. These blockages reduce the flow of life energy, which results in stiffness, pain, and illness. Thai massage uses different techniques that either open or constrict different Sen to correct the flow of life energy. The belief in energy flows are common in asian massage techniques. In Thailand this energy is called Sen, in China this is known as Chi, in Japan Ki, and in India it is called Prana.
Reduces stress levels
The traditional Thai massage consists of manoeuvering and manipulating the body to relieve physical and emotional tension.
Different forms of stress are not always a negative thing. More often than not, stress can act as a motivator that can assist to push people towards higher performance and greater accomplishments in their personal and professional lives.
That said, excess levels of stress can negatively affect both mental and physical health. Some forms of chronic, or long-lasting, stress can lead people to serious illnesses, including depression and cardiovascular disease.
Thai massage uses a gentle pressure and stretching techniques to relax the body. In conclusion, the researchers decided that Thai massage is much more effective at reducing stress levels in healthy people than simply resting.
Helps blood circulation
The Thai massage can help to promote the circulation of both blood and lymph through the use of gentle stretches. These yoga-like stretches increase the recipient’s overall blood circulation, which helps to fill the body’s tissues with oxygen. This helps to promote both cell growth and heart health.
Another study also examined the benefits of the Thai foot massage in people with peripheral neuropathy, a common complication of diabetes. The researchers found that this massage helped improve people’s balance. It is believed that this is a result of improved blood circulation, which, in turn, stimulates the somatosensory system. The somatosensory system plays a major role in balance.
It’s been a known fact for a while now that due to common lifestyle habits and the unnatural physical act of sitting for long hours, our postures have been badly affected.
After prolonged periods of time spent sitting, our body’s vertebrae is compressed, resulting in them becoming closer to each other due to the effect of gravity and also due to the stress of sitting in awkward positions.
The offspin effects of this are that the muscles in the back contort to accommodate this new position which causes bad posture to develop. This causes the nearby nerve fibers and blood vessels to get pinched between the two vertebrae, not to mention the muscles and ligaments.
When massage therapy is carried out, it helps to relax these muscles, relieving the physical pressure on the nerves and blood vessels. Some massage therapies such as Thai Massage can aid in straightening out the spine through physical manipulations. This in turn reduces the discomfort in the body and results in lowered stress levels.
The Royal Thai Massage has been around for a long time. It was developed by Buddhist monks in Thailand about 2,500 years ago. In that part of the world, it has plenty of styles that vary from one location to another.
Originally, the word Royal was incorporated to differentiate it from the other type of Thai massage – the Rural version.
The traditional Royal Thai massage was done with the receiver fully clothed. It could only be done with the use of the masseuse’s thumbs while maintaining strict etiquette on the distance between the recipient and the masseuse.
On the other hand, the Rural version allowed the masseuses to use their thumbs, palms, arms, knees, elbows and feet so that they can use techniques with a variety of intensity levels.
This massage technique has its roots from traditional Thai medicine. It was something the Thai people performed not only to relieve tension all over the body, but also to touch on the person’s energy lines and to enhance bodily function.