In a traditional Thai massage, practitioners use their hands, thumbs, elbows, forearms, and sometimes even their feet to reduce tension in your muscles.
Thai massage is based on the idea that energy moves through your body along predictable lines or pathways known as sens.
To increase the flow of energy along the sens, the practitioner will move your body into yoga-like positions in addition to pulling and rocking your body in various ways.
The combination of stretching, movement, and pressure is what distinguishes Thai massage from other types of massage.
Thai massage may be a good option for you if you want a more active type of massage, where you move and participate instead of lying down throughout your massage.
What to expect
With Thai massage, you can wear your own loose-fitting clothes, or the practitioner may have you change into scrub-like garments — a loose cotton top and drawstring pants. You keep your clothes on throughout the massage.
Typically, you’ll lie on a mat or massage mattress on the floor, not on a massage table. Once on the mat, your practitioner will slowly move your body through multiple stretches, using the weight and pressure of their body to assist you.
Unlike a Swedish massage, oil isn’t used and your muscles typically aren’t kneaded. Instead, the practitioner will use their hands, thumbs, elbows, and knees to stretch, pull, and rock different parts of your body. They may even sit on you to stretch you into certain positions.
Some types of stretches may involve going through yoga-like movements with the practitioner holding or pulling you to maintain a pose.
If your muscles are sore or tense, you may feel some discomfort. If you do, let your practitioner know so the pressure and stretching can be reduced.
If you have an injury, or some part of your body is particularly sensitive to pain, be sure to let the practitioner know before they start the massage session.