Thai Massage — or Thai Yoga Massage — is generally considered a rather tough massage treatment modality, and not without reason. Sessions can be given with firm pressure and acupressure, vigorous joint mobilization, and deep stretches. It can be quite a workout for the receiver.
Nonetheless, Thai Massage can also be applied gently and soft, making it suitable for babies and infants, people with injuries or certain disabilities, pregnant women, and, yes, for elderly people. To be clear: Thai Massage is for everyone, every age-group.
Thai Massage Benefits for Older People
In fact, in my experience as a Thai Massage therapist, I’ve seen really wonderful beneficial health effects for older and old people. The thing is that many elderly people often lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle, and as a result have quite a diminished blood circulation, short or tensed muscles, and stiff joints, which again leads to many discomforts or even additional illnesses.
As such, even just a little bit of stimulation and opening of the joints, muscle tissues, and blood circulation can give really spectacular results for elderly people. They may suddenly be able to turn their neck again, feel more warmth in their bodies, have more feeling in their feet, walk better and have better balance, and almost feel like twenty again, even if the results objectively seen seem to be rather slim.
I think that Thai Massage is so beneficial for older people, because they never even remotely imagined that their condition could be improved — that is, getting older simply meant that things only get worse physically — but in my practice, these were often the people being very grateful after a session, happily coming back for more, even to the point of becoming “Thai Massage addicts.”
As a whole, Thai Massage applied as a geriatric massage can yield a range of health benefits, which includes an improved blood and lymph circulation, quicker wound healing, less back pains, reduced arthritic pains, increased balance and mobility, more flexibility and range of motion, less anxiousness, depression and loneliness, improved cognitive skills, and a general sense of well-being.
Special Precautions and Contraindications
As with all types of massage therapies, certain precautions and contraindications need to be taken into account.
For elderly people, extra caution need to be observed for those with broken bones, osteoporosis, arthritis, inflamed, swollen or bruised areas, open wounds, varicose veins, recent surgery, certain heart conditions or cancer, blood clots, and “thin skin.”
Thai Massage Techniques for Elderly People
Depending on the specifics of an individual person — that is, their general health condition and state of their body — all known Thai Massage techniques can be applied for older persons, with moderation, of course. This includes assisted stretches, chiropractic, and giving pressure or acupressure.
Nevertheless, it will usually be more suitable to carry out softer techniques, such as squeezing, soft hand palming, leaning in with bodyweight, circling, rolling, rubbing, rocking and harmonics, traction, stroking, and gentle percussions.
Additionally, older people could experience difficulties being massaged in certain positions; they may not be able to lie down for longer periods on the back or on the belly, they may not be able to sit long, and such. A massage therapist needs to take these factors in consideration and needs to adapt the techniques used accordingly.
In Thai Massage, a treatment for elderly people is usually given in the side lying position, the massage position that’s also used for pregnant women.
The Thai Massage side position is a very pleasant position for the receiver, which can be supported easily with a range of pillows or other props for increased comfort, and moreover, while sparing strains for the receiver’s back, belly, and chest it still allows for a complete full body Thai Massage.
It may also be that older people are not able to get or lie down on a mat, on the floor (or they may not be able to get off the floor after the massage), and in such cases it may be a solution to give Thai Massage on the massage table. Of course, Table Thai Massage tends to somewhat limit the number and range of massage techniques that can be applied, but it can still make for a very complete Thai Massage session when carried out by a proficient massage therapist.