More than Stretching: Five Other Reasons Thai Massage is Good for You

Thai Massage has been known for its dynamic stretches, since becoming popular in the United States in the 1990s. It looks more like yoga than what we in the west consider to be massage therapy. In fact, it is often called, “lazy man’s yoga”. While people tend to flock towards Thai Massage to help with their flexibility, this ancient modality is way more than just stretching. Here are five other reasons why Thai Massage is one of the best healing modalities you should make a part of your self-care arsenal.

  1. Mental Health

Thai Massage supports mental well-being. It is no secret that nurturing touch can be calming and is even necessary for proper human development. Massage therapy in general is known for its stress relieving qualities, and Thai Massage is no exception. It has been shown to decrease psychological stress by increasing parasympathetic activity, which slows the heart rate and allows the body to “rest and digest”. Thai Massage has also been shown to decrease depression and anxiety.

  1. Pregnancy

Prenatal Thai Massage shares the benefits of both massage therapy and yoga. Pregnancy changes the body dramatically over nine months. Movement combined with muscle manipulation, allows the muscles and tendons to be well-conditioned in preparation for childbirth. Safely applying the techniques slowly and gently will help alleviate stress and pain. Along with decreasing muscle and joint tension, Thai Massage improves sleep and holds space for a deeper connection between mother and child. Pregnant moms that will benefit from Prenatal Thai Massage are:

  • Healthy women who are not experiencing any medical issues that would prevent them from receiving massage and/or yoga.
  • Moms that are physically active and want to remain so during pregnancy. This includes runners, yoga practitioners, dancers, professional athletes, etc.
  • Clients that are severely allergic to most massage lubricants, and wish to stay fully clothed.
  • Women that are uncomfortable disrobing due to PTSD from physical or sexual abuse.
  1. Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are triggered by stress and feels like a tight band around the head. The pain can travel to other parts of the neck and shoulders. Oftentimes, tension headaches disrupt sleep and everyday life activities. These disruptions lead to more stress…which leads to more headaches! It’s a vicious cycle! Thai Massage helps relieve tension headaches by using acupressure on the face, scalp, neck, and shoulders, along with gentle joint mobilization. The combination of these methods can decrease tissue rigidity, improve sleep, and alleviate overall feelings of pain and discomfort.

  1. Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition that is the result of abnormal brain development or brain injury. It can occur prior to birth or during labor and delivery. Each person with cerebral palsy will have varying levels of functionality. Some may be completely immobile, while others only need a minimal amount of help with daily tasks. In all cases, the damage to the brain is permanent, though treatment and therapy can help manage the effects on the body. These effects include:

  • Physical limitations and loss of function and mobility
  • Difficulty with muscle coordination, control, tone, and reflexes
  • Difficulty with balance and posture
  • Fine or gross motor skills challenges

A 2015 study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand concluded that “Thai Massage decreased muscle spasticity and is suggested to be an alternative treatment for reducing spasticity in young people [6-18] with cerebral palsy” (Malila et.al. 2015).

  1. Diabetes

One of the main conditions associated with diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. This sort of nerve damage results in a burning or tingling sensation, commonly occurring in the hands and feet. Along with these sensations, people with diabetes may also experience lack of balance, coordination, and muscle weakness. Thai foot massage has been shown to be beneficial for diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. Results of a study performed at Khon Kaen University showed that “Thai foot massage is a viable alternative treatment for balance performance, ROM of the foot, and the foot sensation in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy” (Chatchawan et. al. 2015).

Thai Massage has diverse healing qualities that benefit us physically and emotionally. An improvement in flexibility, circulation, and mobility are just the iceberg.

References

Chatchawan, U., Eungpinichpong, W., et al. (2015). Effects of Thai foot massage on balance performance in diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy: a randomized parallel-controlled trial. Med Sci Monit Basic Res. 2015; 21:68–75. doi: 10.12659/msmbr.894163. PMID: 25892354.

Malila, P., Seeda, K., Machom, S., Eungpinithpong, W. (2015). Effects of Thai massage on spasticity in young people with cerebral palsy. J Med Assoc Thai. 2015 Jun; 98 (Suppl 5): S92–S96.

Vanessa Hazzard, B.A.Sc., L.M.T. is an author, educator, and massage therapist with 13 years of experience in the field. She is author of Prenatal Thai Massage: for Relaxation & Pain Relief. Her volunteerism and commitment to mental health and trauma-awareness in yoga and bodywork has landed her features on NPR, Philly.com, and speaking engagements at Drexel University and non-profit organizations. Vanessa has shared her expertise as an advisory board member for massage therapy schools, as well as Belmont Behavioral Health’s mood disorder program. Over the past decade, she has taught hundreds of massage therapy professionals at spas, wellness centers, and retreats. Vanessa has attended International Training Massage (ITM) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and earned her Bachelors of Applied Science in Massage Therapy at Siena Heights University. For classes and sessions, visit www.nirvanalandcontinuinged.com

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