Traditional Thai Massage

Image: Traditional Thai

Traditional Thai Massage is an extraordinary method of aligning the energies of the body, originating from the time of the Buddha. Nuad Phan Boran as is it called in Thailand, correctly translates only as Ancient Massage or Traditional Massage. More widely known today as Thai Massage, is seen as a practical application of the Buddhist principle of ‘Metta’ or loving kindness, forming the cornerstone of a quietly effective healing of body, mind and soul.

Elements of Yoga and Ayurveda from India are combined with universal energy healing principles to balance the flow of energy throughout the body. It is performed with the client comfortably clothed on a special Thai mat. Sessions usually last for at least one hour.

Thai Massage consists of a series of interactive, flowing movements, stretches and rhythmic massage, along the body’s energy lines and pressure points. This experience is often deeply meditative, and can result in a profound release of mental and physical stress.

Benefits of Thai Massage

  • Helps detoxify the body and boosts immune system function.
  • Increases circulation, lowers blood pressure.
  • Relaxes sore muscles and joints
  • Increases flexibility and re-aligns posture
  • Improves breathing
  • Improves balance
  • Helps increase concentration and creativity
  • Reduces and relieves stress and anxiety
  • Increases energy levels and endurance in physical activities
  • Strengthen the body’s internal chi energy (the life force that flows through our meridians)

History of Thai Massage

Traditional Thai Massage is a therapeutic technique that dates back thousands of years. Its precise origin is unknown, but practitioners traditionally trace their lineage to Chivaka Komarapatr. A private doctor and friend of the Buddha, he is said to have successfully used massage and stretching techniques along with herbal and other remedies to treat ailments and conditions amongst the nuns and monks that were traveling with the Buddha.

At that time, medical institutions and practices of the monastery were integral parts of the religious system. When Buddhism reached Thailand in the 3rd or 2nd century BC, temples were built with adjacent dispensaries and medical schools.

A long time has passed and thus, many historical evidences have disappeared. Most text have been lost during various invasions. Only fragments of the existing precious medical texts survived. These were used as a basis for the famous epigraphs at Wat Po in Bangkok so that people of the next generation can practice all techniques.

Thai Massage

1) Is Thai Massage done on a table, bed or floor?

Traditionally Thai Massage is always done on the floor, but elements of the practice are being effectively adapted by practitioners more accustomed to working on tables or beds. However, many of the advanced movements and stretches can only be done safely and effectively on the floor.

2) What should I wear?

Comfortable, loose-fitting Yoga or athletic clothes are best to accommodate the twisting and stretching movements in the session. A pair of loose Thai fishermen’s pants and a shirt are also provided for you here.

3) How long are the sessions?

Traditionally, authentic Thai Massage treatments are at least one and a half hour long, sometimes lasting for several hours. In the western world we have less time, so shorter sessions are also a viable option.

4) Why are sessions so long?

Since the main objective is energy balancing, the physical moves become part of a deeper, more meditative spiral of healing that feels increasingly good, resulting in a profoundly deep and integrated sense of physical, mental and spiritual well-being for both giver and receiver.

5) What are the benefits for the receiver?

Stress relief, revitalization and a euphoric feeling of overall wellbeing are most often used to describe the benefits of the treatment. Physiologically, the body gets re-aligned in a way that increases flexibility and circulation. We get to remember how good it can feel to be in our bodies.

6) Is it safe for the elderly, children, the injured or sick?

Since the work is tailor made for each individual in each different treatment session, it can be done safely, with certain modifications to accommodate contra-indications as needed with all the above-mentioned types of people with remarkable results.

7) How often should I receive Thai Massage?

How often you use Thai Massage is always a personal choice. Since you are the only one inhabiting your body, you know best! Initially, clients may come more frequently to begin the balancing work, and move to less frequent visits as the body responds.

8) Is it ok to eat before/after the session?

In order to have more energy in the body available for the work and since an important part of the treatment may involve pressing points around the abdomen, it is better not to eat a heavy meal for at least 1 hour before the session. Snacks are ok. To allow the process to continue after the practitioner ends the actual session, it is better not to eat or do strenuous exercise for at least an hour afterwards. Drinking copious amounts of warm water or hot tea is highly beneficial, as liquids help flush out toxins that may have been released during the treatment.

9) Where did Thai Massage originate?

It is said to have originated in India. Some say it grew out of the ancient healing systems practiced in South India in the region now known as Kerala. Later, after becoming a part of ancient Ayurveda, existed in the North of India (now Nepal). At the time of the Enlightenment of the Buddha. The physician Chivaka Komarapatr, a private doctor of the Buddha along with herbal and other remedies to treat ailments and conditions amongst the monks that were traveling with the Buddha, spreading Buddhism and these medicinal techniques all over Southeast Asia. He is also a founder and Father Doctor of Traditional Medicine in Thailand.


Massage Therapy

Image: massage picture

Registered Massage Therapy is a comprehensive range of techniques consisting of hands-on manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. It targets muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments and joints for the purpose of optimizing health. Assessment and treatment can include orthopedic and neurological tests, soft tissue manipulation, hydrotherapy, remedial exercise and client education.

The purpose of massage therapy is to prevent, develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function or relieve pain. Massage therapy helps alleviate the soft tissue discomfort associated with everyday and occupational stresses, muscular over-use and many chronic pain conditions. If employed early enough after trauma and injury, massage therapy can greatly reduce the development of painful muscular patterning. It is a health option that achieves results in the relief of an array of discomforts originating from stress, muscular overuse and chronic pain syndromes.

While many individuals might provide massage, massage therapy is best received from a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). An RMT is an individual who has completed a 2-3 year diploma program at a recognized school of massage therapy and who has passed the entry-to-practice Certification Examinations that ensures they have the competencies necessary to safely and effectively offer massage therapy services.

The practice of massage therapy is regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) and is therefore a Regulated Health Profession. Only individuals who have completed the requisite training and have met the strict competency requirements of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (the regulatory authority for the profession of massage therapy), can call themselves a “Massage Therapist” or a “Registered Massage Therapist”. An RMT can provide a receipt that will be accepted by your extended health benefits plan for reimbursement of massage therapy services.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

There are tremendous benefits to be achieved through massage therapy treatments from a Registered Massage Therapist. Whether you’d like to achieve relaxation, reduce muscle tension or find relief from chronic pain, a therapeutic massage can enhance your quality of life, and increase your overall sense of emotional and physical well-being.

Massage therapy can benefit people of all ages. While it helps with injuries, illness and stress, the strength of massage therapy in preventing illness and chronic conditions before they develop cannot be overlooked. Massage therapy can be used in the treatment of both acute and chronic conditions.

Therapeutic massage can play an important part in health maintenance by:

  • Reducing or eliminating pain
  • Improving joint mobility
  • Improving circulation
  • Improving immune system function
  • Increasing lymphatic drainage
  • Reducing depression and anxiety
  • Reducing muscle tension
  • Increasing body awareness

Conditions Massage Therapy Can Alleviate

Massage therapy can be beneficial to people of all ages, and is widely used to help obtain relief from many specific situations, including:

  • Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis
  • Stress relief and associated conditions
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
  • Back pain
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Circulatory and Respiratory problems
  • Pregnancy and labour discomfort
  • Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation
1) Can anyone receive massage therapy?

Yes, massage therapy is appropriate for individuals of all ages, including infants, children, and the elderly; however, there are some conditions for which massage therapy is not appropriate. A qualified Massage Therapist (RMT or MT) is trained to recognize these cases.

2) Do I have to remove my clothing for Massage Therapy?

No. Your comfort as a client is of the utmost importance, whether that is in the context of the clothing you wear or the treatment you receive. Massage Therapists can provide treatment whether you elect to remove any, some, or all of your clothing. All RMTs are trained in proper draping procedures to ensure that your privacy is completely respected at all times during treatment. Additionally, Luke offer Traditional Thai Massage, done fully clothed on mats.

Your comfort and ability to relax is paramount to an effective treatment. Your consent is sought before treatment is provided. If you are uncomfortable, your RMT wants you to let them know immediately, whether that discomfort involves the treatment, draping or any pain you may experience. Be sure and discuss the most effective means of treatment with your Massage Therapist.

3) Does Massage Therapy hurt?

As with many treatments affecting the soft tissue, there are times when massage therapy can cause some slight to moderate discomfort, but it is not harmful. A comfort scale can be established and the therapist will always work within your level of tolerance.

4) How often should I receive Massage Therapy?

Sometimes one treatment is enough for symptom relief; however, massage therapy is most beneficial in acute conditions when used over a series of treatments and then followed up with maintenance or preventive treatments. Through mutual discussion, your Massage Therapist can help you establish a frequency of visits which fits your physical needs and lifestyle. Your Massage Therapist is most interested in your recovery and in the maintenance of your health.

5) What happens on the first visit?

As well as receiving treatment on the first visit, you will complete a confidential health history form as part of your assessment. It is important that the Massage Therapist know if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications. The Massage Therapist will listen to your concerns and assess your individual needs before giving the treatment.

6) Who pays for Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is not publicly funded by the provincial government in Ontario. Individual clients, either directly or through an insurance plan, pay for massage therapy services. Most progressive extended health insurance plans cover massage therapy treatments when provided by a Registered Massage Therapist. Most do not require a physician’s order for treatments, although a few may still have this requirement.

Most plans require that the covered individual pay for the treatment upon the provision of services and submit the expense for reimbursement. Contact your employer for more information. You may wish to consult with Revenue Canada or your financial planner to determine if claims for massage therapy under “Medical Expenses” on your income tax return will be permitted. Most Massage Therapists are required to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and must advise clients when this is the case.

7) Will my Massage Therapist keep my information confidential?

As regulated health professionals, Massage Therapists are required as a part of the standards set by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario to maintain the information you provide, both verbally and in written form, in the strictest of confidence. In addition, Registered Massage Therapists are covered by Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. As a result, information that is collected about clients may be collected only with consent, may only be disclosed with consent or to your immediate health providers (circle of care), and must be secured and maintained.