Thai Foot Massage is in fact a combination of Massage and Reflexology and is about using massage to open up the energy channels (Thai Sen), stimulate the flow of vital or life energy, and it incorporates pressing on so-called reflexology or acupressure points.
A session can be done with or without using oils or creams. When oil is used there’s more sliding and stroking, without oils there is typically more acupressure, and/or mobilization or stretches applied.
A Thai Foot Massage practitioner may use thumbs, other fingers, knuckles, elbows, forearms, the knees and feet and certain tools (often wooden sticks) to work on the feet. The client usually sits in a comfortable soft chair leaning back, and the practitioner would sit on the floor or on a little stool.
Typically the treatment is extended to the calves, or even to the whole leg, and at the end of a session often a bit of arm, shoulder and neck work is applied also.
Like Traditional Thai Massage, Thai Foot Massage is very popular in Thailand. And surely, after a long day standing or walking, a session is not only pleasant and good for the feet, but in fact for the whole body. The latter incorporates the main idea of reflexology that pressing on certain (therapeutic) points under, on the sides, or on top of the feet, the whole body and internal organs benefit.
Thai Foot Massage and Reflexology seems to be a blend of both ancient Indian (Ayurvedic) and Chinese (Traditional Thai Medicine) concepts and techniques and historically it was only offered at home and in Thai temples (the so-called “Wats”) by Buddhist Monks. Today, it is available virtually everywhere in Thailand, on public markets, in massage parlors, on the beaches, and so on, and increasingly in the rest of the world in spas and massage salons.
When it comes to “pressure point maps” of the feet, we need to be cautious though. There are a variety of different map systems available, which often seem to contradict each other. Neither should we compare Thai Foot Reflexology with Western Reflexology, although there are certainly quite some parallels.
The benefits of Thai Foot Massage include an improvement of blood circulation, improvement of lymphatic drainage, a boost to the immune system, improved mobility and range of motion, stress reduction, a better sleep, better mood and concentration ability, and a feeling of general well being and calmness.