All about Thai Massage
Massage involves the manipulation of soft tissues within the body, usually by hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearms or feet, to treat bodily stress or pain.
Performed by a trained massage therapist, the treatment is done with the client either lying on a massage table or matt or sitting in a massage chair.
One of the oldest forms of healing therapy known, the origins date back thousands of years with references appearing in documents from Ancient China, India, Japan, Egypt, Arabic Nations, Greece and Rome.
The origins of Massage
The first known text in Chinese dates from 2700 BCE and was titled “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine”. First published in English in 1949, it is still a staple for massage therapy training.
In Europe, massage began to be widely used during the Renaissance period and the original techniques which are regarded as the foundation of Swedish massage were developed in the early 1800’s by Per Henrik Ling.
His work was refined by a Dutchman called Johan Georg Mezger who created the basic hand strokes we now associate with Swedish massage.
Swedish massage was introduced to the US in the 1850’s by two American medical gymnasts who had spent time in Sweden and graduated from a two-year program at the Royal Central Institute.
Although massage fell out of favour in the 1930’s and 40’s due to scientific and technological advances, people’s interest in the practice was rekindled during the 1970’s, particularly amongst athletes.
Health Benefits of Massage
There are many health benefits associated with massage, some of which can be felt after just one treatment. Pain relief from musculoskeletal injury is one of the primary benefits, and a major reason why massage became so popular amongst athletes.
The relief can usually be felt after the first session and undergoing regular therapeutic treatments can help with chronic injury, particularly in the lower back, neck and shoulders.
There are a number of theories as to what causes the positive effects of massage. They include enhanced skeletal muscle regrowth and remodelling, activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, the prevention of fibrosis or scar tissue and the stimulation of endorphin release.
Studies are still ongoing to confirm some of these theories but what is not in dispute is the fact that massage provides increased relaxation.
Massage Therapy on Koh Tao
Koh Tao has a wide variety of spas and massage parlours, from small family-run businesses to large, luxury resorts. Each of these venues has their own list of treatments available that enables Koh Tao to offer numerous different types of massage.
As you would expect, this is the predominant type of massage offered on the island. Based on a combination of traditions from acupressure, reflexology and yoga, Thai massage focuses on the energy lines of the body and aims to clear blockages, stimulating the flow of blood and lymph.
Providing a deep, full-body massage, which starts at the feet and works up the body, it involves a number of stretching exercises which help to improve your flexibility and joint movement as well as increasing blood circulation.
Thai massage is a dry massage so does not use oils. Instead, you will be provided with loose fitting clothes, allowing the therapist to treat you without your movement being restricted.
Swedish massage is the most commonly used and widely known type of massage in the world. Using five styles of strokes; effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, friction and vibration or shaking, the technique applied can vary in intensity depending on both the style of the therapist and the preference of the client.
The aim of this massage is to release tension in the muscles, and so aid relaxation. Secondary effects include the stimulation of nerve endings and an increase in the flow of blood and lymph, making it helpful in reducing pain and joint stiffness.
Swedish massage is usually performed using oil to lubricate the therapists movements
Aromatherapy massage is an oil-based massage that uses essential oils selected by the customer on the basis of either their smell or their beneficial properties. The benefits are thought to be generated by stimulation of the limbic system within the brain.
Oils that may be used include chamomile (calming), rosemary (energising) and eucalyptus (decongesting). Many therapists may have their own premixed blends which combine a number of oils.
The massage technique used is usually the same as with a Swedish massage but may also contain some skills from lymphatic style massage.
Aloe Vera massage
An Aloe Vera massage uses the Swedish massage technique combined with Aloe Vera lotion. As it spreads the lotion across the body, it is a great massage to get if you have spent too long in the sun as moisturising the skin with natural oils can help to repair and minimise the damage caused.
In addition to this, the improved circulation, increased relaxation and decreased stress achieved from massage helps to promote overall wellbeing which aids the body’s natural healing process.
Sports massage is designed to help correct problems and imbalances in the body’s soft tissue caused by repetitive and demanding physical activity.
Receiving a sports massage both before and after exercise, can help improve performance, increase energy levels, relieve swelling, promote flexibility and prevent injury.
Using compression techniques and a soothing oil, it provides a strong massage aimed at relieving muscle fatigue and tension, particularly in the back, shoulders and legs.
Reflexology, which can also be known as zone therapy, is a treatment in which pressure is applied to the hands, feet and ears.
It utilises a pseudoscientific system of zones and reflex areas which cause an image of the body to be reflected on the hands and feet.
Applied using specialised thumb, finger and hand techniques, it is based around the Ancient Chinese beliefs in Qi (vital energy) and aims to keep the Qi flowing through the body to keep us balanced and prevent disease.
Lymphatic drainage massage
The lymphatic system is a structure of vessels which move cellular waste within the body to the heart so it can be filtered and removed.
Lymphatic drainage massage uses the application of gentle pressure to stimulate this system and remove waste fluids.
Certain injuries and medical conditions can cause the build-up of fluids in the body, known as lymphedema.
By removing the excess fluids, it is possible to reduce the pain and swelling they cause and prevent a decrease in mobility which could be detrimental to recovery.
The lymph fluid also contains lymphocytes and white blood cells which help the body fight infection so lymphatic massage can also lead to improved immune function and increased energy levels.
Craniosacral therapy is a form of massage which uses light touches to improve cranial bone motion and fluid movement. Developed within the field of osteopathy, it has migrated into the wider treatment field and is now practiced by massage therapists and other health professionals.
These touches can be applied to the cranium, spine and pelvis to release any tensions within the brain and spinal cord.
The treatment is believed to be particularly useful to treat migraines and headaches, balance problems, stress and tension-related disorders, dental trauma and head and facial injuries.
Ayurvedic head massage
Ayurvedic head massage is a technique which aims to stimulate the lymphatic system and induce a state of tranquility.
The therapist will apply oil to the scalp and then use various techniques to pull the oil through the hair before moving on to massage the face, neck and shoulders.
Originating in India, it was considered an important daily practice for those who want to lead a healthy lifestyle.
This treatment helps to condition the scalp, reducing the effect of issues such as psoriasis and dandruff, as well as increasing the strength and shine of the hair.
As well as the benefits to the scalp and hair, ayurvedic head massage has numerous positive effects on the whole body including elevating mood, by causing the release of endorphins, relieving chronic strain in the neck and shoulders and relieving symptoms of insomnia and depression.
Hot Stone massage
Hot Stone massage, which is thought to have originated in the US around 20 years ago, uses the placement of hot, smooth stones at specific points on the body to allow the therapist to apply deeper pressure, without causing discomfort.
The treatment utilises techniques from Swedish massage and the therapist may also hold heated stones in their hands while they work.
Hot stone massage can be beneficial in treating anxiety, depression, insomnia and back pain and it is also believed the stones can help absorb negative energy and rejuvenate your chakras.
Pra Krop – Thai Herb Hot Compress massage
Pra Krop is a Thai style massage during which a mixture of herbs is placed in a tightly wrapped, hot steamed cloth and then pressed on to the body.
As with hot stone massage, the use of heat allows the therapist to provide a deeper treatment, without the need for increased pressure.
The mix of herbs usually includes pra, ginger, turmeric and lemongrass and the compress is applied to the body using circular and rolling motions.
Pra Krop is particularly good for relieving deep muscle aches, joint pain and swelling.
Koh Tao Massage
Whatever massage treatment you are looking for whilst visiting Thailand, Koh Tao provides a wide range of treatments to ease those aches and pains.
You can sooth sore muscles after a day of scuba diving, snorkeling or hiking the mountainous viewpoints or maybe to help you relax and get a good nights sleep after a strenuous day down at one of the many beaches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Koh Tao offer a range of massage treatments?
There are many reputable massage and spa shops offering a range of massage treatments on Koh Tao. Treatments include a traditional thai massage, foot massage as well as oil, aloe vera, aroma therapy and thai herbal massages. You can also get facials, body scrubs, foot scrubs, ear candles, waxing , manicure, pedicure and much more.
What is Thai Massage?
Thai massage can be very therapeutic and uses hands, elbows, forearms, knees, legs and feet the masseuse moves in a series of assisted yoga like positions and stretches whilst applying deep muscle compression, joint mobilization and acupressure.
How much does massage cost on Koh Tao?
A typical Thai or Oil massage on Koh Tao will cost you 300baht for a 1 hour massage and is great value for visitors who want to unwind, relax and refresh after a strenuous day of activities.
Is Thai massage safe?
Thai massage on Koh Tao is considered to be very safe. Any pre-existing injuries should be discussed with the masseuse as Thai massage may not be suitable for some people who have suffered particular injuries in the past. Often the masseuse will ask how gentle you wish the massage to be. Thai massage is best for people who want an active form of massage that will reduce and relieve stress. Thai massage uses a sequence of movements similar to Yoga stretching and you can expect to be stretched and twisted into various positions.
How do I know if its the right massage for me?
To identify a suitable type of massage therapy you need to discuss with your masseuse any pre existing conditions, such as a postural dysfunction or any back issues so they are fully aware of your conditions and needs.
Where to get Thai massage on Koh Tao
There are lots of reputable massage shops on Koh Tao including Infinity massage in Mae Haad, Impress Massage in Sairee and Family Thai massage in Chalok Baan Kao. Please contact us if you require more information.