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How To Understand Thai Massage Stretches And Traction

Thai Massage stretching and traction

When learning Thai Massage, you will notice that there are many techniques which are not much used in other modalities.

Two examples are stretches and traction moves. Do you know what exactly the difference is between stretches and traction? This video demonstrates it clearly with examples from both types of techniques.

Stretching in Thai Massage

The purpose of stretching is to re-establish full or normal range of motion by relaxing muscles and getting them to release tightness and tension.

In Thai Massage therapy stretches are used extensively. They are often called passive yoga or applied yoga moves.

Thai Massage is sometimes referred to as ‘Thai Yoga‘. Frequently people assume that this system consists mostly of yoga-like stretches, and it is a fact that many Thai Massage schools and courses teach primarily sequences of stretching techniques.

However there is more to it. It is important to keep in mind that stretches are just one element of this system.

There are many other elements like massage techniques, rocking moves, energy line work, and the subject of this article – traction.

Traction in Thai Massage

What exactly is traction? It is the opposite of compression. The body is constantly subjected to compression by the force of gravity.

Whenever we are standing, walking, or even sitting, many joints are being compressed by the weight of the body. That’s the effect of gravity.

This mostly affects weight-bearing joints like the spinal vertebrae, the hip, the knee, and the ankle joints.

It does not affect non-weight bearing joints, like elbows or fingers, to the same degree, but even for those joints traction is beneficial.

There are other factors that impact healthy conditions in joints. Here are some examples:

Aging with its gradual deterioration of physical functioning
Negative lifestyle habits (lack of movement and exercise)
Repetitive use (as in typing – carpal tunnel syndrome)
Overuse (as with tennis – tennis elbow)
Deterioration of spinal disks or joint cartilage
Arthritis and other diseases

So what’s the benefit and purpose of traction?

To open up compressed joint space
Traction feels opening, freeing and lengthening
It counteracts compression and releases tension
It facilitates better energy flow in the body

Tractioning is something that is generally not much used in massage therapy. Thai Massage is unique in that it has a large repertoire of many different traction techniques.

Traction can be applied to quite a number of body parts: toes, fingers, arms, legs, neck, shoulder, and the spine.

What is the difference between stretching and traction?

Here is the main difference: Stretches in Thai Massage work on muscles and traction works on joints.

In Thai Massage stretches and traction moves can be done separately as two types of techniques, i.e. you either do a stretch or you do traction.

However they can also be combined within the same technique. This would be a tractioning stretch, as demonstrated in the video.

How can you learn stretches and traction?

Thai Healing Massage Academy provides many online training courses which teach all aspects of Thai Massage – stretches, traction, massage, and energy line work.

Here are the benefits of our training programs:

You can learn Thai Massage from anywhere in the world
Convenient, cost-effective, and professional online environment
Use any device to access the training in your own membership portal
Support by the instructor and a friendly student community

Please visit our training library here:

The author, Shama Kern

The author, Shama Kern, is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 Thai Massage online training courses. He has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 20 years.

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