If you are experiencing joint pain ranging from mild to debilitating, the ancient art of Thai massage can help. Thai massage in a nutshell is a combination of gentle massage, healing intention, and stretches applied passively to the client’s body. Developed over 2500 years ago by an ayurvedic doctor and yogi, it is oftentimes referred to as “The Lazy Man’s Yoga.” The combination of stretches and energy movement opens joints, elongates muscles, and generally creates space in painful areas to bring relief.
Thai massage has positive impacts on every system of the mind and body. It has meditative qualities that soothe the mind and calm the nervous system. When you add to that, it’s physical impacts, you may just be persuaded that this is the massage for you. There are, however, some conditions for which Thai massage should not be used for. Here is some expert advice on what to expect with a Thai massage.
- know how Thai massage can help your joint pain
- know you don’t have to go to Thailand
- know the difference between Thai massage and other forms of massage
- dress in clothing that allows for movement of your body
- drink a lot of water after the massage
- get a massage if you are injured or hypermobile
- feel rushed
- go on a full stomach
- plan a strenuous workout or heavy lifting after the work
- talk or think too much
Thai massage has a wide range of benefits. Here are some benefits for how it will impact specific areas of your body.
- Muscular Impact: Some joint pain is caused by tight (shortened) muscles which pull on the joint, causing pressure and sometimes misalignment of the joint. The combination of gentle massage and stretches in Thai massage relaxes and lengthens tight muscles. This takes pressure off the joints and allows them to fall back into proper alignment, relieving the pain. Additionally, the muscular flexibility gained in a Thai massage allows for greater range of motion in the joints.
- Skeletal Impact: The opening created by the stretches in Thai Massage relieves excess stress on the skeletal body including the spine. The reduced stress on the on the skeleton reduces stress on the joints, alleviating pain.
- Articular Impact: Stretches increase the space between the joints, allowing fluids (such as lymph, synovial and cerebrospinal) to circulate – effectively “greasing the joints,” increasing mobility, and reducing healing time.
- Postural Impact: The impact Thai Massage has on the body is similar to that of yoga. The stretches guide the body back into proper alignment, improving overall posture. Thai Massage has been proven to correct skeletal problems, even reversing some degenerative spinal diseases such as kyphosis, scoliosis and lordosis. Improved posture allows joints to move within their intended ranges and positions, reversing and / or preventing pain within the them.
There are plenty of massage therapists that specialize in Thai massage here in the United States. Many of them are members of national massage therapy organizations that offer online referral listings of therapists in your area. American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) at amtamassage.org, American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), and the Thai Healing Alliance International are good places to start looking. Also check with local massage schools that specialize in Asian bodywork. They can put you in touch with alumni and faculty who offer Thai massage.
The main difference you will notice when you receive the work is the stretching. While Thai massage is not the only massage modality that includes stretches, it is most likely the one with the most extensive amount. The work is done on a mat on the floor instead of a massage table, which allows the therapist better leverage for application of the stretches. Due to the slow, meditative nature of the work, a typical Thai massage session lasts 1.5 hours.
Most Thai massages will not include the use of lotions or oils. Your therapist will ask you to dress in loose fitting clothing, which allows for movement while maintaining modesty and privacy.
While all types of massage have detoxifying effects on the body, Thai is especially that way. Proper hydration is essential after the work to assist your body in the process of ridding itself of toxins.
The healing qualities of Thai massage are helpful for most everyone. Clients of all ages enjoy the work and its benefits. However, as with other forms of massage, there are some situations in which you should not receive the work, or it should be altered to meet your specific needs. Your therapist should take a thorough health history prior to working on you, so they can tailor the work to your needs. Some of the situations relating to joint pain that warrant avoidance or alteration of the work include:
- Acute injury – wait at least 72 hours and get a proper diagnosis by a medical professional prior to receiving the work. In case of fracture, wait until your doctor has confirmed that the fracture is set.
- Dislocated joints or joints that are prone to dislocate – Your therapist should avoid stretching the joints in question.
- Hypermobile joints, loose or lax ligaments – Your therapist should avoid stretching the areas in question.
As mentioned above, traditional Thai massage sessions are 1.5 hours in length. Add to that the review of your health history and general getting to know you time. Your first session could take longer than you anticipate. Plan to spend at least 2 hours at your appointment. There is nothing worse than stressing out while trying to receive a massage.
It is best not to eat a big meal within 2 hours, or a small meal within 1 hour of receiving the work. Thai Massage has great benefits for your digestive system, which you won’t want to miss out on.
Allow your muscles and neuroreceptors to adjust to their newly opened state before subjecting it to high impact activities, which could result in spasm. Take the day off to let your body recoup.
A quiet mind is the best way to reap the full meditative and spiritual benefits of a Thai Massage. Close your eyes, relax and enjoy.
Once you have determined that Thai massage is right for you, get ready to lay back and enjoy the healing. The benefits are for more extensive than can be listed in one article. This modality will not only help relieve your pain, it will relax you, invigorate you, and leave you in a blissful state of mind.