Thai Massage is part of the Thai Traditional Medicine system (the Thai Healing Arts) and is a common denomination of a vast set of quite distinct treatments. In fact, “Thai Massage” in itself says very little.
Let me give a comparison that can serve as an example. So, when someone says they want to have a Thai Massage it’s a bit the same as saying that one will have dinner in a restaurant. I mean, what restaurant, where, and what are you going to eat? And if one then responds with “Pizza,” the next question comes up: what kind of Pizza?
Moreover, you must agree that the experience of having a certain dish in a certain restaurant is not only influenced by what exactly you’re going to eat, but also by the setting, reputation, service and ambiance of the restaurant, the price of the food, and… very, very much by the cook.
Now, all that applies to having “dinner in a restaurant” goes for “Thai Massage” also. Being just a general name for a variety of massage treatments in Thailand, I’ll further on below list the many kinds of Thai Massage treatment modalities recognized, with a little description, and a link to more details about the specific treatments.
Remember that not only the sort of Thai Massage treatment matters, but also ambiance, price, setting, and the style, lineage, experience and proficiency of the therapist i.e. masseur. Additionally, depending on the treatment it can be offered on the floor on a special mat, sitting on a chair, or lying on a massage bed or table.
And also depending on the country, let’s say, for instance, the USA, Canada, Germany, or Argentina, Singapore or Thailand, the idea of what a Thai Massage is or should be and in what setting it should be given varies. This is often culturally defined, locally adapted, and has much to do with historic and social perceptions.
Yet, all Thai Massage treatments basically use the same concepts and techniques (such as stretches, hand palm pressure, and acupressure while manipulating the so-called Thai Sib Sen or Thai Energy meridians) although it depends on the sort of massage applied which techniques are exactly used. Moreover, some types of Thai Massage use certain tools, herbal compresses, creams, and oils, a combination of those, or none of that at all.
Thai Abdominal Chi Massage
Thai Abdominal Chi and Internal Organs Massage, also called Chi Nei tsang, is a healing massage modality that blends traditional Chinese, Thai Massage and meditation techniques while focusing predominantly on the abdominal area. Usually, hands, palms, fingers, knuckles, and elbows are used to apply the massage, and sometimes the feet.
Thai Amatarot Massage
Amatarot Massage uses a wooden stick or rod with various appliances that are stuck to the end of the rod, with which acupressure is given to the client’s body.
Thai Bamboo Massage
Thai Bamboo Massage uses polished, hollow bamboo rods of different sizes – warm or cold – to roll or glide on muscles to soften, relax and stretch them.
Thai Barefoot Massage
Barefoot Massage treatments are done with using only the feet. These treatments have a more “earthy” quality than the ones done with the hands or other parts of the body. More pressure can be applied also, with less effort. Sometimes therapists use a stick, rod or rope to keep their balance while “walking” over the client.
Thai Breast Massage
The techniques used with Breast Massage are usually derived from Thai Massage and focus on the pectoralis muscles and the soft tissues of the breasts. Usually, circling, rubbing, kneading and squeezing strokes and movements are applied around and on the breasts. The overall idea is to increase lymph and blood flow and stimulate the mammary glands. Often used by postpartum mothers.
Thai Ched Haek Detox Massage
Ched Hak Thai Massage is an ancient Lanna detox technique that uses claws of animals in the procedures during the treatment. The instrument used, is blessed and considered of power, and is wiped on the client’s body, while the therapist uses prayers and chants of empowerment.
Thai Fire Therapy Massage
Thai Fire Therapy Massage or Yam Khang is a Lanna style Thai healing modality that uses heat, oils, and only the feet to massage the body of the patient. With the hot foot dipped in oils the practitioner treats the client, while using a wooden stick to keep balance.
Thai Facial Massage
In Thai Facial Massage several concepts can be applied: the use of reflexology i.e. Thai acupressure points, cupping, peeling, Thai herbal mixtures applied as masks, scrubs, the use of essential or base oils, and also massage which consists of rubbing, pulling, kneading, pressing, circular movements, squeezing, and shaking techniques, and so on.
Thai Foot Massage & Reflexology
Thai Foot Massage is usually a blend of Thai and Chinese Massage and Reflexology and it’s about pressing on so-called reflexology or acupressure points. A session can be done with or without using oils or creams. The practitioner may use thumbs, other fingers, knuckles, elbows, forearms, the knees and feet and certain wooden tools to work on the feet.
Thai Genital Detox Massage
Thai Genital Detox Massage, also known as Karsai Nei Tsang, is a traditional form of therapeutic genital healing and sexual organs detox massage originating and exercised in Thailand and applied for both men and women. It’s a specialization of Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Massage.
Thai Hand Massage
With Hand Massage the therapist typically uses massage, acupressure, pressure, mobilizations, reflex points and Thai energy lines to treat the hands, underarms, and wrists. Usually this treatment is not given separately but as part of a full body massage.
Thai Herbal Compress Massage
Herbal Compress Massage, also referred to as Herbal Ball Massage, can be applied hot or cold. Thai herbal compress treatments are used to soothe and to relieve pain and inflammations. Important in the application are the selection of herbs with therapeutic qualities. Typically, a mix of herbs is wrapped in a compress, then steamed and when hot, applied to the body by pressing, gliding or smearing in circular, linear and/or rolling movements.
Thai Heated Salt-Filled Pot Compress Massage
Heated salt-filled clay pot compresses are typically used in the Thai postpartum period. Nevertheless, it’s a treatment also applied in other situations, in case of health issues with the abdominal, digestive or genital organs. In addition, techniques with hot salt pot compresses are also used to release tension in the shoulders and lower back muscles.
Thai Infant & Baby Massage
Thai Infant or Baby massage is Thai Massage that is specifically adapted to small children and usually applied with relaxing or soothing oils and creams. Sessions are generally short.
Thai Jabkasai Massage
Jabkasai or Jap Kasai Genital Massage has been practiced in Thailand for centuries. The therapeutic treatment is done directly on and around the testicles. The penis isn’t touched.
Thai Jap Sen Massage
The Jap Sen or Nerve Touch Massage style is a Thai Massage style done by “grasping or plucking the sen lines” and was founded by the late Lek Chaiya also known as “Mama Lek.”
Thai Kud Thong
Usually, Kud Thong Childbirth Massage is not given before the 28th week of the pregnancy. Aims of Kud Thong are to soothe tension in the womb, help to position the baby better, help the baby to move more freely, reduce pressure on the urinary system, and prepare and relax the future mother for an easy labor process.
Thai Lanna Massage
Northern Lanna Thai Massage differs somewhat from mainstream Thai Massage. The main goal of Thai Lanna Massage is to relieve tensions and stiffness (it’s thought that this focus has to do with the mountainous area in the North), and it’s usually applied softer and more gently than Southern style Thai massage.
Thai Loincloth Stretching Massage
The Pa Kao Mah is a Thai Sarong, Scarf or Loincloth. Using the cloth in a Thai Massage session is rising in popularity. The Pa Kao Mah is wrapped around the body or certain body parts, such as the neck or legs, and with slowly pulling, sliding and lifting movements the client is gently stretched.
Thai Neck, Head & Shoulder Massage
Although basically part of a full body Thai Massage, these sessions only treat the head, neck & shoulders. It makes some sense because these are parts of the body that suffer a lot from tension, especially nowadays in modern societies where work stress and prolonged sitting positions with strenuous activity for the eyes, head, neck and shoulders have become rather common.
Thai Oil Massage & Aromatherapy
Thai Oil Massage and Aromatherapy are in fact two treatment modalities. Thai Oil Massage is about giving deep pressure, gliding, rolling, stroking, rubbing and stretching movements using all parts of the body in combination with the application of base oils or essential oils. Aromatherapy massage is based on the idea that adding scented plant oils and/or plant essential oils to a base oil addresses specific ailments of the receiver.
Thai Pregnancy Massage
Thai Massage for Pregnant Women is part of Traditional Thai Midwifery practices. Thai Massage applied for pregnant women can help to alleviate fatigue, (lower) back pain, pain in the legs and feet, and generally help to stretch and relax muscles and joints, and increase flexibility and energy levels.
Thai Tok Sen Massage
Tok Sen Massage is a Northern Lanna Thai healing art, which uses of a short-handled hammer and a chisel of wood, bone or ivory to rhythmically tap along the Thai Sen energy lines of the body.
Thai Traditional Massage
Traditional Thai Massage, also called Nuad Thai or Nuad Boran, is based on passive yoga, stretches, and firm pressure and acupressure. With stretching exercises, yoga poses, and pressure along specific energy channels (the Sen Meridians) Thai Massage can help us in being freed of physical, mental, and emotional blockages and tensions.
Thai Womb Lifting is Thai traditional healing modality, which involves hot sea salt crystals in a clay pot wrapped in medicinal leaves and applied as a compress. It also incorporates acupressure on the abdomen, legs, buttocks and back. The uterus is manipulated externally with the hands.
Thai Yoga Massage
There’s no real difference between Thai Traditional Massage and Thai Yoga Massage than in the name. However, generally in Northern Thailand (Chiang Mai region) yoga-like stretches are more often used during a Thai Massage session than in Thailand’s southern regions (Bangkok and down). The name Thai Yoga Massage is in fact a Western invention.
Thai Yok Thong & Uterus Massage
Uterus Massage or Yok Thong works directly — both internally and externally — on the uterus and ovaries. It can be applied both during the pregnancy or as a postpartum treatment to realign the uterus and ovaries, or in generally for women that have health issues with the genital organs.