What is Traditional Thai Massage?

Thai massage dates back to over 2500 years and is based on a combination of influences from India, China, and indigenous Thai traditions.  A complete Thai massage incorporates acupressure along the sen lines, range of motion for joint mobility, and passive yoga-like stretching to increase flexibility.  In Thailand, traditional Thai massage is both a complex theoretical science, and an informal art.  Throughout Thailand, Thai massage is taught as part of a medical discipline, and is practiced in many villages by healers who have learned from family and friends.  The most important function of Thai massage is to stimulate the body’s energy and natural healing process.  Thai massage is to be considered energy work because therapists are guided by an intricate network of Sen lines.  Sen lines are pathways that run along the entire body.  Acupressure points are found along the Sen lines, which are used by the therapists to stimulate or relax the body’s energy, which affects the patients mind and body promoting the natural healing process.  Thai massage can vary to suit a wide range of physical needs, all ages and abilities, and complements all levels of exercise.

Thai massage clinics in Thailand are like salons or barbershops in the West, they aren’t balanced with peace and harmony, but rather a gathering of people talking, random people coming in and out, and they lack privacy.  Thais consider their massage clinics to be a social gathering place.  In the West, our massage environments are much different.  We expect peace, relaxation, and privacy to make for the ultimate massage experience.

Thai massage is performed on a Thai mat, think of a futon style mattress.  The client is always fully clothed in loose, or workout style clothes.  Because the client is clothed oils and lotions are not used in Thai massage.  A typical Thai massage starts at 90 minutes and can last for up to 5 hours, or longer.  The length of a Thai massage depends on what the client wants and requires.   Thai massage is very detailed and works the whole body based on 4 principles.  Thai therapists always start with extremities and work their way in to the center of the body.  Thai therapists start at the feet and work their way up to purify the energy as it moves through the body and up toward the head; this will also help balance the chakras.  Thai massage is always performed in order of the sen lines to warm up the muscles and lymphatic system, then joint mobilization, and finish with stretching.  In order to keep the body’s energies balanced, the massage must work the entire body. 


*Cited from Encyclopedia of Thai Massage;
  Dr. C. Pierce Salguero and David Roylance