Introduction to Popular Massage Styles

Traditional Thai massage or Thai Yoga Massage is one of the ancient massage styles, and the technique formulated by Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, the personal physician of Lord Buddha, 2,500 years ago. In that sense it originated on Indian land. However after the death of Buddha, many Buddhist monks who migrated to Thailand carried with them this healing art which flourished within the ambience of the Thai temples with basics rooted in the wisdom of Ayurvedic principles and overt influences of Chinese medicine. Gradually it came to be called Thai Massage Therapy. Today it is a popular alternative healing methodology.

The uniqueness of this Thai body massage is that it is a blend of shiatsu, yoga, and meditation. The masseuse twists and stretches the body in various yoga-like postures. In jest it is often referred to as “yoga for the lazy”. The intensity and the frequency of the postures is dependent on the body composition of the person. 

In Ayurveda the body is composed of one or a mix of three dosha (elements), namely vata, kapha, and pitta. The stretches are often performed to harmonize the balance of these doshas in the body of the person. The masseuse also applies pressure on various points along the ten energy lines, or sip-chen, using his hands, fingers, elbows, forearms, or even feet. 

This brings about a redistribution of energy, which soothes and relaxes the mind and body. A typical Thai massage session can last anywhere between 60 minutes to 2 hours. At the end one is left energized and invigorated.

A Thai oil massage is often practiced in southern Thailand. The yoga and shiatsu techniques are supplemented with a traditional oil massage. This is not a popular practice however nonetheless effective. Sometimes warm herbal compresses are also used to treat specific ailments. This is typical of the southern style of Thai massage.

The advantage of authentic Thai Massage is that it can be done anywhere as it does not require the person to naked and does not require any equipment or special arrangements; just a mat and adequate floor space to perform the various poses. Loose comfortable clothing is advised.

Benefits of Thai Massage

  • Balances the endocrine system
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves overall flexibility
  • Improves blood and lymphatic circulation
  • Alleviates back and muscle soreness
  • Fights fatigue and depression
  • Opens energy channels and eases the flow of life force or prana
  • Improves joint flexibility and range of motion
  • Enhances the body rhythms
  • Brings about emotional and physical well being.

There are a number of elements that can be incorporated into any therapeutic body massage to greatly enhance its benefits. When massage techniques are customised to suit the varying needs of clients, the benefits of therapeutic massage are greatly enhanced. Let us take a look at some of the popular therapeutic massage techniques that form the primary elements of massage.

Swedish Massage:

Swedish massage is the cornerstone of all western massage techniques. This massage uses techniques such as effleurage to soothe the muscles and relieve stress.

Deep Tissue Massage Styles

Derived from Swedish massage, deep tissue massage builds on these basics to take massage to a deeper level. In deep tissue massage, the therapeutic massage therapist concentrates on releasing stress and adhesion from deep within the fascia by using deep, intense movements. This helps to alleviate chronic pain and also flushes out toxins from the body. Deep tissue massage is frequently used in the rehabilitation of sports related injuries.

Trigger Point Therapy:

Have you ever had a pounding headache that was relieved when someone massages your shoulder? This is essentially what trigger point therapy is all about. In this example, the trigger point, or the point where all the stress was collected, was in your shoulder, however it manifested itself in the form of an ache in your head. Trigger point therapy allows practitioners to identify the locations of these trigger points and then relieve the knots and tensions from the area through therapeutic massage bodywork.

Hot Stone Massage:

Hot stone massage adds a further dimension to therapeutic massage therapy by the use of heated stones that are placed on the body. Other variations of hot stone massage, such as La Stone therapy use both hot and cold stones to aid the massage process. The hot stones not only help to relieve muscular soreness by providing heat to the affected area, they also make the muscles more pliable for the therapeutic massage bodywork to follow. The alternate application of hot and cold stones also helps to flush out toxins and raises the body’s natural immunity.

Prenatal Massage Styles

Prenatal massage is probably one of the most important forms of massage therapy, as it not only directly impacts the health of a pregnant mother, however also of her unborn child. This therapeutic massage therapy is beneficial for both mother and child and also eases the aches, pains, and discomfort associated with pregnancy.

James Styles

James writes for a number of different blogs, and enjoys fishing and wine. James lives in Nebraska with his family.