I have received questions from students about how firm the touch should be in Thai Massage, and here are some comments about this:
I work very intuitively. Some clients don't feel much if your touch is very soft, whereas others are very sensitive and feel pain very easily. One good idea is to ask clients before a session if they prefer soft, medium or strong work. That will give you a hint. The rest is experience and intuition and will come to you over time. It is different with each client.
As a general rule Thai massage is done with a fairly firm touch, however my internal mantra is "softness". That has nothing to do with the intensity of the touch, but it has everything to do with the quality of touch. It is the power of softness. Softness does not necessarily mean a light touch. It is the feeling of sinking into a muscle with power (coming from your body weight and as a whole body movement) and gentleness and softness.
There are very different levels of Thai Massage practitioners. I have experienced Thai massage sessions where the touch was harsh, insensitive, too fast, and I felt like a slab of meat being pushed around. Other sessions put me into a trance and I felt refreshed and energized for hours after the treatment.
The only way how you can use Thai massage sessions as a gauge to measure touch is when you receive it from several different practitioners so that you have something to compare it with. This is much easier here in Thailand since I can get a one hour Thai Massage for about $5.- In the west it is often cost prohibitive to get lots of sessions. But you might find people who are interested in doing trades. When I started out, I just gave away lots of sessions for free, and that gave me a lot of valuable feedback and experience.
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I think that is a great answer to a sometimes complex question. I've worked on many conditions in my career and the first thing I know to expect, is that it will be different each time, even if it is with the same person. I appreciate your insights and look forward to what the future holds.
Michael P. Barnes LMBT 8913, RMT