The Scientifically Reported Benefits of Thai Massage
Thai massage has numerous health benefits…
Many of the benefits of Thai massage have been supported by scientific studies. Here we look at
- Stress / anxiety
- Back pain
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Flexibility / range of motion
- Energy levels
Thai Massage for Reducing Stress
One popular aspect of Thai massage therapy is the sense of relaxation and calm it brings. Even though it is more energetic than some other forms of massage therapy, Thai massage has been shown to lower anxiety and stress.
Using gentle pressure, manipulation and stretching techniques to relax the body, Thai massage relieves emotional and physical tension which is stored in the body.
A certain level of stress is not necessarily a bad thing, it can act as a motivator and a source of drive which can be helpful in certain circumstances in life. However, too much stress can adversely affect physical and health. Protracted and / or chronic stress can be the cause of serious illnesses, including depression and cardiovascular disease.
A study in 2015 identified that Thai massage significantly reduces levels of a certain stress marker called sAA which is found in present saliva, and that Thai massage is more effective at reducing stress in healthy people than simply relaxing.
Immediate Effects of Traditional Thai Massage on Psychological Stress as Indicated by Salivary Alpha-Amylase Levels in Healthy Persons – see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4599180/
In another piece of research, brain scans of people who received Thai massage treatments revealed lower levels of anxiety and more than other people who underwent other physical therapy treatments for the condition known as scapulocostal syndrome (SCS).
Acute effects of traditional Thai massage on electroencephalogram in patients with scapulocostal syndrome – see: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22579427/
Thai Massage for Relieving Headaches
Traditional Thai massage may help ease the symptoms of migraine or tension headaches according to several small studies. Researchers found that Thai massage reduced the intensity of pain associated with both migraine and chronic tension headaches.
Effects of Thai traditional massage on pressure pain threshold and headache intensity in patients with chronic tension-type and migraine headaches – see: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24738648/
The study also concluded that the benefits of Thai massage could last anywhere from several days to around 15 weeks.
In a further study, ‘court-type’ Thai massage (a specific form of Thai massage that involves applying pressure to specific energy channels) was shown to be an effective treatment for people who suffer from chronic tension headaches, showing that the Thai massage led to a reduction in tissue hardness.
A Randomized Controlled Trial on the Effectiveness of Court-Type Traditional Thai Massage versus Amitriptyline in Patients with Chronic Tension-Type Headache – see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587431/
Reducing Back Pain with Thai Massage
Thai massage has also reported to be an effective, non-pharmaceutical way of reducing the discomfort associated with lower back pain.
Researchers in Thailand studied the effects of Thai massage on 120 people with non-specific low back pain. People were treated twice a week for four weeks. One half of the group were treated with Thai massage, whilst the other half received treatment using other
conservative management techniques, included joint mobilization through application of pressure, manual stretching and hot packs.
The study showed that both the traditional Thai massage and the conservative joint mobilization techniques were equally effective in the short-term reduction of pain and disability in people with chronic nonspecific lower back pain.
The Effectiveness of Thai Massage and Joint Mobilization – see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5495387/
Thai Massage for Relieving Joint Pain and Stiffness
Thai massage has been shown to improve joint function for people who experience stiffness pain when moving. In one study, researchers used a programme of Thai massage combined with wand exercises to study the effects on people suffering pain from knee arthritis. The study found that after the eight week program the participants walked with greater ease and experienced less pain.
The Effectiveness of Thai Exercise with Traditional Massage on the Pain, Walking Ability and QOL of Older People with Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial in the Community – see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3927027/
In a further study, 60 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were given three weeks of Thai massage, which was found to provide the same level of pain relief as a three week course of ibuprofen.
Thai Massage, and Thai Herbal Compress versus Oral Ibuprofen in Symptomatic Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Trial – see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4165631/
Increasing Flexibility and Range of Motion with Thai Massage
Thai massage may help improve mobility in terms of range of motion and flexibility. The yoga-like stretches work to reduce stress and improve circulation and the gradual, gentle stretching enhances flexibility, enabling a greater range of motion to achieved over time.
In a study of thirty four soccer players to test the effects of Thai massage on athletic performance, participants received Thai massage three times in a ten day period. As a result, the soccer players showed a significant improvement in their ability to do sit-and-reach exercises.
The researchers hypothesized that the increased flexibility may be the result of Thai massage improving blood flow and oxygen supply to the muscles, as well as improving the circulation of synovial fluid which reduces friction between the joints, which in turn may help to reduce pain and decrease muscle adhesions.
The researchers also reported that the Thai massage treatments led to an improvement in the soccer players’ agility and on the field.
Effects of Thai massage on physical fitness in soccer players – see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4339173/
Improvement in Energy Levels
Thai massage incorporates yoga-like whole body movements, and people often say that after a Thai massage they feel not only relaxed, but also rejuvenated.
Research has shown that Thai massage can increase a person’s physical energy levels. In one, albeit small, randomized trial, researchers compared the effects of Thai massage and Swedish massage in people who were experiencing tiredness, fatigue and depleted energy.
A randomised crossover trial comparing Thai and Swedish massage for fatigue and depleted energy – see: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1360859217302383
The results showed that:
- Thai massage tended to increased mental stimulation and energy
- Swedish massage was generally more likely to improve relaxation and sleep
Thai massage is based on the concept of energy lines, or Sen – channels of energy within the body which correspond to different parts of the body, eg the bones, nerves, blood and muscles.
The theory suggests that muscles which are tight can blockages within different Sen. The blockages reduce the flow of life energy, which in turn results in pain, stiffness, and in some cases, illness. Thai massage uses different techniques that help to either open or constrict different Sen, which rebalances and corrects the flow of life energy.
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We are open every day for Thai Massage from 11 am to 10 pm (last appointment 9.30pm)
Call us: 020 8752 0302
Or feel free to drop in and make an appointment in person at Thai Touch Therapy, 309 Uxbridge Road, Acton Hill, London W3 9QU.