Thai massage: technique, benefits and contraindications

Thai massage: technique, benefits and contraindications

Thai massage, based on compression and acupressure, releases energy and promotes the elimination of toxins. Let’s find out better.


  • The origins of Thai massage
  • The technique of Thai massage
  • How the session takes place
  • Benefits and contraindications of Thai massage
  • Thai oil massage, an allowed variation
  • Curiosity


The origins of Thai massage

The origins of Thai massage are lost in the mists of time. It is thought to date back to about 2500 years ago by Jivaka Kumar Bhacca , personal physician of the founder of Buddhism  Siddhartha Gautama , and by King Bimbishara, a scholar of phytotherapy and energy techniques.


In Thai language this massage is called Nuad phaen borarn : nuad means  “touch to heal” and borarn means  “ancient and worthy of reverence”.


This type of treatment has long been handed down only through oral tradition and has been enriched with influences from Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian cultures . The Thai massage we know today is in fact  the synthesis of many healing traditions .


They reached present-day Thailand in the third century BC, Buddhist monks promoted this technique as a practice of “loving kindness”, spreading it throughout the surrounding territory, identified in ancient Siam.


The first written documents relating to this practice were almost all destroyed in 1767 during the Burmese invasion . Fortunately some fragments were saved and in 1832 they allowed King Rama III to have 60 figures of the body engraved on the walls of today ‘s Wat Pho temple in Bangkok  , representing positions and energetic lines; in a sense, they can be considered as the first textbooks on today’s Thai massage.


The technique of Thai massage

The Thai massage starts from the assumption that there is an energetic network that runs through our body , with about 72,000 channels, of which 10 are contemplated, called Sen.


These energy channels, which remind us of the meridians of traditional Chinese medicine , are treated by the operator with hands , feet , elbows, forearms, knees, pressures of various kinds. The body is stretched, stretched, flexed , in a very delicate but deep way, using some yoga asanas ; this is why Thai massage is called passive yoga .


How the session takes place

Before starting the treatment, the masseur introduces a preliminary phase of getting to know the patient to understand how to intervene. According to tradition, she kneels beside him and places her right hand on his belly , because the hara area is considered the gateway to all those deeply connected to breathing.


The Thai massage begins with light maneuvers that gradually increase in intensity , without ever trespassing beyond the pain threshold. How often is it necessary to undergo Thai massage? For those who are particularly contracted, even two sessions a week may be necessary, although one is sufficient to produce the first beneficial effects.


The masseur uses acupressure and compressions. The body must rest on a soft surface. Usually the recipient remains clothed or covered , either by tradition or to keep the  muscles warm .


The duration of the original Thai massage can range from an hour and a half to three hours. The cost can be around 60 euros, with higher rates if the times are prolonged.


Benefits and contraindications of Thai massage

Thai massage operates on several levels: physical, chemical, mental. In fact, it releases energy, increases vascular activity, promotes the elimination of toxins, loosens the muscles. The session aims to leave the body relaxed and the mind ready , clear, freed from toxic thoughts.


To summarize, here are the benefits it brings:

  • increases muscle elasticity;
  • reactivates blood and lymphatic circulation;
  • helps to realign posture ;
  • relieves neck pain and back pain ;
  • counteracts sleep disorders ;
  • relieves anxiety and stress .


Very indicated in case of problems such as neuralgia , lordosis or disorders related to depression , such as insomnia .


There are some contraindications, or better cases in which  it is better not to undergo a Thai massage :

  • heart disease and hypertension ;
  • varicose veins ;
  • pregnancy ;
  • degenerative diseases such as cancer;
  • fever ;
  • skin infections;
  • skin wounds or burns;
  • hiatal hernia .


Thai oil massage, an allowed variation

As explained above, Thai massage has undergone many influences over time and there are some variations to the original practice allowed; among these the treatment with oil , then on the skin.


In this case, the 10 lines of Thai massage, the Sen , come into play even more . These lines, which appear to be about 2 cm under the skin,  branch out across the body like a circuit. When treated with pressure, touch or friction, reflex stimulation of the internal organs occurs. The technique involves frictions, rolling , always with very delicate manipulations.


The oil massage plays an important role in re- oxygenating the connective tissue. The pressures and frictions act in depth on the lymphatic and circulatory system with evident benefits, such as the drainage of excess fluids and lactic acid , with a consequent attenuation of inflammation. It also stimulates the immune system and eliminates toxins .


The oil is heated on the palm of the hand and then spread on the skin. Some essential oils are used in particular for their specific properties such as jasmine oil , lemongrass oil and Ylang Ylang oil .


  • Jasmine oil . Counteracts psycho-physical stress and promotes sleep and relaxation of the nervous system . It is therefore suitable for relaxing treatments. It also strengthens the immune system, improves the flexibility of the body and balances the female hormone system.
  • Lemongrass oil.  It stimulates vitality  and stimulates the senses thanks also to the pungent aroma. It moisturizes the skin, stimulates body and mind , stimulates blood circulation, increases the activity of the nervous system and metabolism, fights depression and anxiety. It is indicated for massages of the lower and upper limbs and back.
  • Ylang Ylang oil . It has calming  and aphrodisiac properties , relieves hypertension and instills self-confidence.


The Californian massage seems to have been inspired by the Thai oil massage for purpose, practice and technique. This discipline was born in California in the seventies and has been perfected over time to operate on multiple sensory levels.



At first glance, a professional Thai masseur almost looks like a dancer . In fact, the movements are very choreographic : the stretching of the muscles is done with wrist gripping maneuvers (the patient and the masseur grasp each other’s wrists) or ankle.


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