Thai Massage fact and fiction
Thai Massage is often erroneously regarded as a strong and even painful system. However this has nothing to do with the massage, and everything to do with the therapist.
The fact is that Thai Massage can be done strongly or very gently, depending on how the therapist is working.
It is true that there are many Thai Massage therapists who tend to work on the strong side. However this is not necessarily a professional decision, but often simply a lack of sensitivity.
The best of both worlds in Thai Massage
So are we stuck with two options – either strong and painful work, or gentle and pleasant work? What if it were possible to combine the two?
Although these two options appear to be opposites, they can in fact be compatible through a way of working which I will call…
The power of softness in Thai Massage
You could also call it ‘force versus sensitivity’, or ‘power versus force’. Here is how it works. When massaging, you are applying pressure on tissue. This can be done in two ways:
- Through muscle power – this means that you are working with an effort, with the strength of your muscle power, and with little sensitivity.
- Through the power of softness – this means that you are using your body weight instead of muscle effort. You are working in a slow, sensitive way which requires hardly any effort.
Muscle power in Thai Massage tires you out, and it is often a painful experience for your client. The power of softness does not tire you, and it is a much more pleasant experience for your client.
The secret is in the execution
Here is the interesting thing: Pressure in Thai Massage, done with the power of softness, does NOT mean that you are applying less pressure compared to the muscle effort version.
It only means that you are applying the pressure in a different way.
Let’s look at an analogy. We all know the saying that ‘it’s the tone that makes the music’.
Two people can play the violin. One sounds harsh and scratchy, and the other sounds heavenly. Same violin, same music, but a different execution. The problem was not the violin, but the player.
Or let’s say you talk to someone. If you use harsh words you will most likely get negative results. But if you use polite diplomatic words you will get much better results.
Your words were exactly the same, but the way HOW you spoke them made all the difference. The issue was NOT the English language, but the person who spoke it.
Sensitivity in Thai Massage
The ‘power of softness’ is not a contradiction, but a different style of working. I have personally tested this with many students, and they in turn have tested it with their practice partners. The reactions are always the same.
Muscling Thai Massage techniques is painful. However executing them in a relaxed way, using only body weight, by sinking slowly and gently into a muscle, is easy on the therapist, and effective as well as pleasant for the client.
The ‘power of softness’ is not a lesser degree of strength, but a different way of applying the pressure. It requires sensitivity and the concept of softness in one’s mind.
The real power of softness
Here is a surprising result which I have tested many times. If you slowly sink into a muscle during a Thai Massage technique, using only body weight, you can apply A LOT MORE pressure without causing any pain compared to using muscle power where even a small amount of pressure can cause pain.
The same applies to stretches in Thai Massage. If you do them rapidly and without sensitivity, they will cause pain. However if you do them slowly, with sensitivity, while listening to the client’s body and observing reactions, you can stretch more with less discomfort.
The obituary of painful Thai Massage
We can bury the idea that Thai Massage is painful and place the blame or the responsibility where it belongs – on the therapist. It has nothing to do with the style, and everything to do with the execution.
If you use the power of softness, you can do powerful work without causing unnecessary pain. And you can be more effective therapeutically while providing a more enjoyable experience for your clients.
How to learn the power of softness?
Thai Healing Massage Academy teaches you to work in this sensitive, holistic, pleasant and effective way through our online training classes.
We provide Thai Massage training for all levels with personalized online instructor support.
If you want to learn the entire system of Thai Massage, check out our Complete Thai Massage online training program.
If you are looking for advanced therapeutic training, we have 20 programs to choose from.
The author, Shama Kern, is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy. He has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 18 years and he is the creator of 20 online training courses.