What’s better – a floor mat or a table for Thai Massage?
If you go to Thailand, you will find that Thai Massage is mostly done and taught on a floor mat. Why is that?
Thai Massage is a therapeutic system dating back hundreds of years. It was designed to help people with their aches and pains.
Fancy environments, decorations, or expensive equipment like tables were not considered necessary or useful, and, as you will see, not even practical.
This has been changing when Thai Massage training schools have been expanding into the western world where massage tables are the norm.
Here is the question: Is it better to learn Thai Massage on the floor or on a massage table – and why? Let’s start with reasons for working on the floor.
This is how Thai Massage is traditionally done in Thailand. There is no question that working on the floor has some serious advantages over working on a table. Let’s look at some of those advantages:
When you learn Thai Massage, consider what works best for you and your clients
Number one: You can use your body weight much more effectively because you can get right on top of a client. You can’t do that on a table unless you are the acrobatic type and climb up and stand on a table.
But if you do that, you might as well work on the floor, which is a lot easier.
Your client has a much bigger support surface on a good-size floor mat than on a table where arms and legs have to be kept close to the body so that they don’t slide off the table.
That’s a real issue because there is a lot of movement in Thai Massage.
Number three: It is much easier for you to move clients around on a floor mat. On a table you have to ask the client to turn over or turn sideways. On a floor mat you can do that for them. This is less disruptive for the client, and it flows much better.
Number four: Unlike on a table, you can use ALL Thai Massage techniques on a floor mat.
There are some techniques which are very difficult or impossible to do on a table. On a floor mat you have no limitations.
You can use more body parts on a floor mat – like knees and feet – which again is difficult or impossible on a table.
There are some quite acrobatic practitioners who climb up on a table and do some amazing stuff, but for the average Thai Massage therapist this is not a good option.
Number six: You have a better flow on the floor because you can easily move around the client without losing body contact.
If you work on a table, you have to disengage and walk around the table all the time.
This is one of those little details which makes Thai Massage flow much better on the floor.
It is easier on your body to work on the floor. On the table you engage mostly your upper body.
However on the floor you can work with your entire body which is much better for your body mechanics, and it takes less effort.
Not-so-good reasons for working on a table
Now that being said, there are reasons and situations where you might choose to do Thai Massage on a table.
Some of these reasons are not very good reasons, and some are perfectly valid reasons. Let’s start with the not-so-good reasons.
Number one: I have personally seen many times that therapists are just so used to working on a table that they feel strange about working on a floor mat, and they’re just not willing to try it. In their minds, massage is done on a table and nowhere else.
Number two: There are also therapists who just assume that their clients would not want to lie on a floor mat, or cannot get down on a floor mat. In my experience of doing Thai Massage for two decades, this is not true in most cases.
It’s a matter of presentation
If you present it properly to your clients, and if you believe it yourself, you can easily convince clients that it is in their best interest to get Thai Massage on a floor mat.
I have helped elderly clients get down on the floor if they had trouble doing it on their own, and generally this was not a problem.
So don’t let your mind, your own resistance, get in the way of working on a floor mat. At least give it a try. You might be amazed how good it feels and how much easier it is on your body.
Good reasons for working on a table.
Number one: You have a physical condition that makes it very difficult or impossible to move around on a floor mat.
Number two: Your work space is so small that you can’t fit a mat into it.
Number three: You work in a spa which doesn’t provide floor mats and expects you to work on a table.
Number four: You blend Thai Massage with other massage styles which are done on a table – like you mix in some Thai Massage moves with your Swedish massage.
Number five: It can be great for ‘teaser’ work. In other words, you can use it as a way to gradually introduce Thai Massage to your clientele without starting them out on a full blown Thai Massage session.
You can add a few Thai techniques to make your clients curious, and at some point you can suggest to do a full Thai Massage session for them, and then you could move them to a floor mat.
Number six: You have clients who are so elderly or in such bad shape that it is really difficult to get them onto the floor.
Number seven: You just don’t want to work on the floor. We all make our choices, and in the end it is up to you what you choose.
All I’m saying is that working on the floor has some significant advantages, and I suggest that you at least try it, if possible. You might end up liking it.
Options for learning Thai Massage with THMA
Here at Thai Healing Massage Academy, all our online training courses are demonstrated in the traditional Thai style on a floor mat.
However many of our students adapt it to table work. That can be done with a little creativity.
Whatever you choose to do, you can learn a lot from our online training courses, no matter if you are new to Thai Massage or if you are an experienced practitioner already.
We have 20 online training courses with in depth training that have helped thousands of students become professional Thai Massage therapists.
Resources for finding more information or enrolling in our courses:
The author, Shama Kern, is the founder of Thai Healing Massage Academy. He has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 20 years, and he is the creator of 20 Thai Massage online training courses.