Thai Healing Massage Academy | Thai Massage Online Courses

thai massage back stretch

Learn Thai Massage


Convenient - Effective

Professional Training since 2001

Thai Healing Massage Academy logo

Helpful Self-Care Tips For Thai Massage Therapists

Thai Massage self care

How do you learn Thai Massage in such a way that it helps you to preserve your health, prolong your career, and be inspired in your profession?

Thai Massage is a helping profession in which the Thai Massage therapist helps clients to improve their health.

It’s also a very rewarding and inspiring profession. Besides helping clients, it can also help the therapists in several ways. But this doesn’t happen automatically. They need to do something about it.

Why do Thai Massage therapists need self-care?

body mind spirit diagram

If the therapists are not in good shape both physically and mentally, they won’t be able to help their clients for very long.

They won’t get the results that they are looking for, and they won’t be at their best as healers – yes, they practice a healing art.

They might burn out in their profession by jeopardizing their own health and well-being.

The evidence is that the massage therapy profession has a high dropout rate.

How can you prevent that and instead build a long-lasting, inspiring, and rewarding Thai Massage career?

  • You need to recognize the symptoms of potential problems
  • You need to know how to deal with them

Potential issues in a Thai Massage career

warning icon

When learning and practicing Thai Massage, there are some things that you need to be aware of since they can potentially cause you problems. Here are some examples:

Overuse of hands, wrists, and thumbs
Putting out more energy than you are able to regenerate
Putting all your energy into your client’s well-being while neglecting your own
Not having a routine to maintain your own physical and mental health

Protecting your health in Thai Massage therapy

Let’s look at these scenarios more in detail. We will look at their causes and then analyze their solutions.

Issue #1. Overuse of hands, wrists, and thumbs

Potential problem: overuse of thumbs


In traditional Thai Massage, there is an emphasis on doing lots of thumb pressure techniques.

This is mostly done to work on the energy (sen) lines.

Depending on the style or school, there are 16 primary energy lines in the Thai Massage system and many additional ones which are not taught as much.

The ones that are primarily taught and used are 6 energy lines on the legs, 6 energy lines on the arms, and 4 energy lines on the back.

If all those energy lines are worked by using thumb pressure, as taught in traditional Thai Massage schools, there is a high risk of overworking, stressing, or even injuring the thumbs of the practitioner.

The solution for overusing the thumbs

There are several ways of minimizing the use of thumbs:

  • One is to change the body mechanics of thumb work by using rolling movements instead of linear direct pressure.
  • Another one is to replace a lot of the thumb work with other body parts like elbows or forearms.
  • A third solution is to replace the direct linear pressure techniques with rocking moves.

Potential problem: overuse of wrists

thai massage butterfly technique

In traditional Thai Massage, there is a technique called the ‘butterfly’ press.

It works by using both hands together with the wrists angled out at about 90 degrees, and then leaning into the body.

Especially if this is done on a large back, this can be hard on the wrists and could lead to problems like carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.

The solution for overusing your wrists

Again there are several options that allow you to reduce your wrist use.

  • One is to change body mechanics by reducing the angle of the wrists from about 90 degrees to a lesser angle of about 45 degrees.
    With the proper training, this can easily be done.
  • A second option is to replace the static linear butterfly presses with more dynamic and fluid rocking movements.
  • A third option is to replace the butterfly hand technique with techniques that use other body parts like forearms, knees, or feet.
    This can easily be done on the back, where the butterfly tends to be used a lot.

Potential problem: overuse of hands


There are different styles of traditional Thai Massage. Most teach a high percentage of techniques that are done with your hands.

Especially the ‘Royal’ Style relies exclusively on the use of hands and thumbs.

Using your hands that much carries the risk of tiring, stressing and even injuring them over time.

Sure, if someone has big strong hands, this will affect him less. But if someone has small hands while working on much larger and heavier clients, this will impact her much more.

The solution for overusing your hands

Considering these potential problems, Thai Massage therapists in Thailand had to come up with alternatives to preserve their health.

This has resulted in a style that is sometimes referred to as the ‘commoner’ style.

This style has been primarily developed in the northern part of Thailand. This ‘commoner’ style gets its name from the fact that it is being used on ‘common’ people.

Thai Massage with forearm

This style uses many body parts like forearms, elbows, knees, and feet.

Practitioners get to use their body weight effectively by getting on top of clients and by working with lots of body contact to get better leverage.

In contrast, the ‘royal’ style was developed for working on the members of the royal family.

Disadvantages of the royal style

When working on royals, the practitioners are not allowed to use any other body parts besides their hands.

They are not allowed to use body contact besides touching with their hands, and they are not allowed to get on top of the royal client.

This is obviously much harder on the therapists. It does not allow them to use their body weight as leverage and prevents them from relieving their hands by using other body parts.

While the ‘royal style’ might sound fancy and impressive, it is actually the worst way for therapists to do Thai Massage.

This ‘commoner’ style is an organic development to prevent the overuse of hands. Therefore it is by far the better style to practice for the health of the therapist.

It allows you to reduce the use of your hands by replacing them with other body parts. It is quite possible to do a Thai Massage session where you don’t use your hands for half of the session.

Issue #2: Putting out more energy than you can regenerate

What are the reasons for overworking in the massage profession and/or depleting your physical and mental capacity?

  • It is quite natural that therapists are enthusiastic about their profession. They often feel the urge to book as many clients as possible and to take on as much work as comes their way. Some feel guilty for saying ‘no’ to a booking request.
  • For those in private practice, there is an incentive to work as many hours as possible. Unlike in a salaried job, every Thai Massage session means more money for the therapist.
  • For those employed in a spa or hotel, you have little control over the bookings and might get scheduled more than you can handle or more than is good for you.
  • If the work is too mechanical and repetitive, boredom can become an issue. A lack of inspiration can deplete your energy quickly.

We need to be aware that good Thai Massage therapy work by a caring therapist is not only a physical effort, but also uses up the energy of the therapist.

We all have a certain amount or level of energy available, physically and mentally. How much that is depends on the individual.

If we use up more energy than we can replenish, then our reservoir levels get lower. If they get too low, the result is a crash and burn-out, either temporarily or permanently.

Image of scale - balance in massage therapy

Practical self-care tips for Thai Massage therapists

The fact is that massage therapy has quite a high turnover and burn-out rate. To prevent that from happening, therapists have to learn how to manage their physical and mental energy household.

They have to learn how much they can give without hurting or depleting themselves. They have to learn what helps them to maintain and regenerate their energy levels.

There are many ways of achieving that. Here are some ideas. They might not all work for you, but you will need some kind of program in your life that is all about self-care.

  • Listening to music
  • Exercise/sports
  • Good diet
  • Nature
  • Reading
  • Learning new healing arts
  • Social interactions
  • yoga practice
  • massage exchanges
  • getting enough sleep
  • taking a vacation
  • reducing work hours

Issue #3: Putting all your energy into your client’s well-being while neglecting your own

There is a fundamental principle that is mentioned in the bible and is attributed to Jesus: “Physician heal thyself”. There are similar statements in other classical literature and cultures.

This applies to Thai Massage or any other healing art as well.

I can help badge
Did you help yourself first?

Therapists are typically focused on helping their clients. That’s great, and that’s how it should be.

However, what happens if the therapists neglect their own well-being?

They won’t be able to help their clients as effectively, and they won’t set a good example for their clients either.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes for a moment. To whom would you rather entrust your health care?

A therapist who is in good shape, has good energy, is positive, and radiates the power of health?
Or someone who is overweight, struggling with their health, lacking good energy, and needs medications just to keep themselves going?

We teach and heal and inspire not just by what we do, but by who we are. Often our energy speaks louder than our words and our actions.

Issue #4: Not maintaining your own health

Especially in Thai Massage, there is an important principle. This is that the health benefits are not just a one-way street, meaning that the client is the only one who benefits.

Thai Massage is not just a system of techniques that are applied to someone. It is a holistic system where both clients and therapists benefit.

The client’s benefits are quite obvious, but how do the therapists benefit?

In Thai Massage the therapists use excellent body mechanics and lots of physical manipulations. These require some degree of flexibility and fitness on their part.

This is much more important than in table massage where the therapists just need to be able to stand next to the table.

Good Thai Massage helps both clients and therapists

Tai Chi movement

Good Thai Massage is like a dance between therapist and client.

The therapist moves gracefully like a Tai Chi practitioner and is using breath and energy to make the techniques more effective.

At the end of a good session, both client and therapist feel better, and more energized, and both experience health and energetic benefits.

In contrast, if therapists work only mechanically without paying much attention to ergonomics, breath, graceful movements, and energy, their work will exhaust and hurt them in the long run.

Good Thai Massage therapists help clients while helping themselves as well. This is an art that is more present in Thai Massage than in many other massage styles.

The reason is that Thai Massage is more physically and also more energetically involved than other styles.

The physical aspect comes from the many stretches and body manipulations.
The energetic aspect comes from the sen line work.

For Thai Massage therapists it is not enough to do some exercises on the side, but their physical and energetic health and well-being are actually a part of the correct application of Thai Massage.

This is often not taught in Thai Massage schools and courses. Many just teach basic sequences in a mechanical way.

Thai Massage training course options

So where can you learn Thai Massage in such a refined way that it helps you to preserve your health, prolong your career, and inspire you in your profession?

Thai Healing Massage Academy provides many convenient and cost-effective online training courses which focus on learning Thai Massage as a healing art – not just a sequence of techniques.

Our Thai Massage courses are designed to be therapist-friendly and easy to follow with practical therapeutic applications that will make your sessions more effective.

You will learn much more than techniques – you will learn the heart and soul, the essence and the beauty of Thai Massage. Check out our training courses here:

Specialized Thai Massage Therapy Courses

Visit Thai Healing Massage Academy’s ONLINE training library with 20 Thai Massage courses for all your training needs and all levels of skills.

author's picture

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

Suggested Reading
Thai Massage Can Save Your Hands And Prolong Your Career
Massage Therapist’s Career Saver Tips

3 thoughts on “Helpful Self-Care Tips For Thai Massage Therapists”

  1. Hi Shama,
    Very well informative article. I completely agree with you what you mentioned about self care. if i am not well how can i serve others!! I want to know from you about self care. While i can easily serve others but unfortunately if i am unable get someone else to take care of me, can i use electric massagers? I am talking about portable one? Is it harmful ? Will look forward to your reply.


    • Massage tools definitely have their place. I have used a ‘massage hammer’ for self care and a wooden tool for massaging my feet. I have also owned an electric back and neck massage device which worked just fine.


Leave a Comment