Thai acupressure is about manipulating certain acupressure points (acupoints) in the receiver’s body to attain health benefits. Acupressure therapy is usually given by applying pressure on acupoints with the thumbs, although other body parts or even certain tools may also be used.
Typically, these special energetic points can be found along the Sen Sib Energy Lines, and their locations are primarily based on the inscriptions as registered on the ancient marble stone tablets at the Wat Pho temple.
Massage and Thai Massage students and bodyworkers are often highly interested in gaining knowledge about these acupoints, because they are related to alleviating or curing certain discomforts or illnesses. Nevertheless, there’s a common misconception that you just need to know where these acupoints are on/in the body, that you press a few times on several of them, and that certain health conditions will be resolved.
It’s tempting and also wishful thinking that things would work like this, that is, having some magic formulas, the magic pill to heal in a simple way. What is often neglected is that applying Thai acupressure is only part of giving Thai Massage. Applying acupressure basically fits in a broader massage treatment routine that usually consists of a full body Thai Massage, which commonly also includes stretches, palming with the hands, joint mobilizations, kneading and stroking, while the receiver is placed in various positions.
It means that you first need to study Thai Massage as a whole and learn to give proper Thai Massage sessions, before you can start to think about applying therapeutic acupressure. Nevertheless, you will frequently find Thai acupressure courses and workshops that ignore this aspect, and simply teach you a bunch of acupressure points “formulas” for common illnesses or discomforts (“press this point 10 times, than this other one 5 times, repeat 3 times, and headaches will be gone”), without requiring general Thai Massage knowledge and practice as a prerequisite.
Another thing to pay attention to are the acupressure points which are taught in Thai Reflexology or Thai Foot Massage trainings. Several of these courses and workshops teach you a mixture of Thai acupressure points and Chinese Reflexology Points, sometimes even entirely based on Chinese acupressure. Some Thai Foot Massage courses even embark on Ancient Egyptian Reflexology or Western Reflexology. An example of a Chinese style Foot Massage training you can encounter in the 30-hours Foot Massage course of the Wat Pho Medical Massage School in Bangkok.
In any case, Thai therapeutic acupressure is a very valuable addition to Thai Massage, based on ancient medical knowledge as recorded on the stone tablets at the Wat Pho temple. It can certainly be given as is — standalone — to tackle a specific health condition, but then rather as an integral part of a Thai Massage treatment that is spread over several days or weeks. It can also be incorporated in a single full body Thai Massage session.
Nonetheless, the specific Thai Foot Massage, Thai Hand Massage, and Thai Face Massage modalities are often considered complete treatments (they don’t include a whole-body massage) in which Thai reflexology i.e. acupressure points are addressed to alleviate or heal a broad range of health conditions in the belief that acupressure points in the face, hands, and feet reflect the function and organs of the entire body.
There’s a certain truth to this in the sense that several Sen Energy Lines pass through the hands, feet and head (face), but in my opinion it means that you can release blockages in the acupoints that are found along these Sen Lines at those locations (hands, feet, and head), but not necessarily resolve blockages of other acupressure points found on the Energy Lines at other locations in the body. As such, I think it’s doubtful that all ailments can be resolved by only working on the feet, hands, or head.