Thai Massage Therapy for Neck,
Shoulder, and Back Pain
Today many people suffer from neck, back, and shoulder pain. Much of the discomfort we feel can be attributed to lifestyle and work factors. Excessive use of computers, mobile phones, and sedentary desk work and lifestyles often cause poor posture which results in pain, stiffness, and tension.
Fortunately, the ancient remedy of Thai massage can be especially effective for alleviating pain and discomfort while also promoting relaxation, body awareness, and better posture.
Thai Massage is unique because it also uses yoga like stretches and acupressure.
The stretch in the picture is one of many that can be beneficial for back pain.
What Makes Thai Massage so Effective?
There are several things that make Thai massage unique and especially effective for alleviating pain. First, in addition to massage it also uses yoga and assisted stretching as part of the therapy. Similarly, Thai massage is done in a variety of positions which aid in creating more movement and mobility in the body. In Thai massage clients will lay in three positions face up, face down, and on their sides. This allows the therapist to reach many areas of the body, use assisted stretching, and mobilize joints, all while the client receives a therapeutic massage.
The Thai Massage Sequence
Additionally, acupressure is a part of many routines and this helps to further release muscular tension and trigger points. Thai massage for neck, back, and shoulder pain thus uses a combination of massage, acupressure, assisted movements, and yoga like stretches. The use of various techniques is much more powerful than only using pressure during a massage.
Thai massage follows sequences that allow for an unfolding process that benefits both the body and mind. Sequences may be modified according to a persons particular dosha (personal constitution), but typically the sequence will start at the feet with pressure and rotations. After that, pressure is applied to the inner ankles and up the inner part of the lower legs. Gentle rocking may be applied to the knees, before gently pressing up the top of the thighs. The video below from our class demonstrates these beginning movements.
You can see from the video how Thai massage uses traction, compression, and movement of the legs to affect the lower back and hips. Stretching of the legs is also common in Thai massage and can be done by lifting the legs up so that they are 90 degrees to the floor. This stretches the hamstrings and posterior energy lines.
The above video also demonstrates how abdominal massage can be combined with gentle rocking of the legs.
Thai Massage & ayurveda
Thai medicine and massage shares many theories and practices with yoga and Ayurveda. The word Ayurveda means "life science" and is an ancient system of natural medicine that comes from India. As Thailand is located between India and China, many of the practices in Thai massage are similar to both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.
One common theory in all of these systems is 5-Element theory which proposes connections between the natural elements, the human body, and disease processes. In Thai medicine the five elements include: earth, water, fire, wind (air), and ether or internal space. In Chinese medicine ether is replaced with metal as an element. Five element theory is also linked to body characteristics, emotional temperaments, and internal processes. For instance, a person with a big body and large bone structures could be classified as having either a water or earth constitution. However, people with a fire element constitution tend to have athletic bodies, sharp distinct eyes, and strong intellectual abilities. The five elements also connect to the three doshas in Ayurveda.