Thai massage lumbar stretchThai massage lumbar stretch

What is Thai Massage?

Thai massage has been practiced in Thailand for thousands of years. It combines stretching and acupressure along ten energy channels called sen sib. Recipients wear loose-fitting clothing and therapists work on a massage mat or other cushioned floor mat. Thai massage is typically a full body massage that can last up to two hours.
Thai massage is found everywhere in Thailand for a very low price, both in spas and in stalls on the streets. There are many schools where you can learn this style of massage as well. The most famous school is the Watpo Thai Traditional Massage School in Bangkok. Many people also travel to Chiang Mai to study at the Thai Massage School of Thailand and the Old Medicine Hospital.
Street massage in Chiang Mai
Modern Thai massage practiced today is the product of a 19th-century synthesis of various healing traditions from all over Thailand. There is considerable variation from region to region across Thailand, and no single routine or framework is universally accepted among healers.
Thai massage is slowly becoming more popular in Canada. Many larger cities have clinics or spas that are designed specifically for massage done on the floor. Other clinics offer a modified form of this massage that is done on a traditional massage table rather than the floor.


Acupressure is pressure that a therapist applies with thumbs, elbows and knees. It uses the same principles as acupuncture to promote relaxation and wellness.

Sen Sib

Sen sib are the ten life energy channels that radiate out from the abdominal cavity to the entire body. Thai massage removes blockages that can obstruct these channels.
Sen Sib


Prana means the wind of life and is the life energy in Thai massage. An obstruction in the flow of Prana can cause discomfort or illness to a person.

Thai Massage Treatments

A typical Thai treatment begins at the feet and works up the body. Therapists massage and stretch the recipient using their hands, elbows, arms, knees and feet. They massage the recipient by applying deep pressure called acupressure along energy channels called sen sib. And they stretch the recipient by moving their body into many different yoga-like positions that help increase range of motion. This last reason is why Thai massage is sometimes called lazy man’s yoga or assisted yoga.
Thai massage has obvious benefits for increasing flexibility and range of motion, but there are other benefits as well. The stretches help relax your muscles, loosen your body and improve the range of motion in all your joints. The movement in this style of massage helps to enhance the circulation of blood in the body. This brings more oxygen to your brain and lowers the chance of blood clotting. And a Thai massage encourages slow and deep breathing that balances your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The results is that your body functions better, stronger and faster.
Both the therapist and the recipient are energized by this style of massage. A monthly Thai massage is recommended for those who do not get enough physical exercise. But the effects of regular Thai massage are cumulative. If the goal is one of health maintenance, a Thai massage every week or two can help one feel better and reduce tension and stress levels.
Street massage in Chiang Mai

Origin of Thai Massage

Thai massage is an ancient practice that has existed in Thailand for over two thousand years. Most attribute the origin of this massage to Buddhist monks. But this style has influences from Indian, Chinese and other Southeast Asian medicine traditions and techniques.
For centuries, Thai families passed down their knowledge of massage techniques from generation to generation. Buddhist monks wrote formal manuscripts about Thai massage in ancient Pali. Many of these manuscripts were destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese invaders. Then, in 1832, King Rama III instructed Thai therapists to use the epigraphs at Wat Pho to reclaim the lost techniques.
Thailand is now popular tourist destination and many people travel to Thailand specifically to learn Thai massage. Some therapists specialize in the Thai techniques, but many more incorporate the techniques into their existing expertise.
Professional Thai massage practitioners are regulated by the Ministry of Education in Thailand, though there is a limited oversight in other countries. In Canada, this governance is provided by the Natural Health Practioners of Canada (NHPC); the largest holistic health association in Canada.
Wat Pho massage tablet

Types of Thai Massage

Therapists around the world call Thai massage by many names. English designations include traditional Thai massage, Royal Thai massage, Thai stretching massage, and Thai yoga massage. But there are many Thai words as well. The word for traditional Thai massage is nuad boran. Nuat phaen thai means Thai-style massage. Nuat phaen boran means ancient-style massage. And nuat boran translates as traditional Thai medical massage.
The massage styles vary from north to south in Thailand. Massage in southern Thailand is sometimes called Bangkok massage, or southern style. Massage in northern Thailand is sometimes called Lanna style massage, or northern style.
Thai massage on the beach

Royal Thai Massage

Royal Style massage, intended for royalty, maintains a larger distance between the therapist and recipient.
Royal Thai Massage

Herbal Ball Massage

Thai herbal compress therapy uses a steamed pouch containing a selection of herbs such as plai and turmeric.
Herbal Ball Massag

Tok Sen Massage

Tok Sen massage uses a wooden mallet and wedge made from the wood of a tamarind tree to tap along the energy channels.
Tok Sen Massage
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