What is a traditional Thai Foot Massage?
Traditional Thai Foot Massage is an ancient, unique and powerful healing therapy for sore legs and feet. It is essentially a blend of acupressure, energy balancing and stretching with applied yoga exercise. This massage therapy is one of the most enjoyable and healthful aspects of visiting Thailand. For therapists, this therapy can be a very useful addition to their skillset and a completely new income stream.
While most Western massage therapies focus on tissue manipulation and the working of the muscles and joints, Thai traditional foot massage focuses on manipulation of the pressure points, “Sen” (energy) lines, and basic body forces. Sen Lines are linked to the Meridians of Chinese medicine and to the “Nadi” of Indian yogic tradition in Thailand. It is believed that there are 72,000 Sen Lines out of which 10 are regarded as principle Sen Lines.
A type of relaxing therapy, a traditional Thai foot massage helps relieve muscle fatigue and reduce tension in the foot. Traditional Thai Foot Massage, being hundreds of years old, is a holistic experience of original resource, rare tradition and local intelligence. This type of foot massage works effectively on various disorders such as stress, chronic back pain, allergies, high blood pressure, insomnia, migraine, arthritis, diabetes, and digestive problems. It is also a remarkable treatment for boosting overall good health, increasing energy levels and providing a general sense of wellbeing.
History of Traditional Thai Foot Massage
Traditional Thai foot massage has its roots in India. Over two thousand years ago, this form of therapy was brought to Thailand by Ayurvedic doctors and Buddhist monks. In due course, this foot massage became a traditional method of healing in Thailand, as it was used regularly by the Buddhist communities. The benefits of the foot massage spread throughout Southeast Asia and for hundreds of years, it was managed by monks of the Thai Royal Palace, as one of the elements of native Thai medicine.
How does Thai Traditional Foot Massage work?
Thai traditional Foot Massage is based on the ten principle Sen Lines (pressure points) on the feet. These pressure points are connected to the different internal organs in the body, through which “chi” (life energy) flows. This massage therapy is based on the theory that all pain and disease result from blockages in the flow of energy. By applying pressure along these principle energy lines and by stretching them, blocked energy can be
released, thus balancing bodily functions.
In this massage therapy, hands and a wooden acupressure tool are used to massage the lower legs and feet. The techniques used are rubbing, kneading, stretching and vibration.
There are two main styles of Traditional Thai Foot Massage, the first style being part of the whole body Thai Massage system, while the second one is mostly focused on the feet only.
Here is a detailed description of each of the Foot Massage styles:
1. Part of the whole body massage: Traditionally a whole body Thai Massage session begins with a foot massage, and then the therapists work their way up the body. These sessions are usually done on a floor mat, with the client fully dressed, and without application of oil. By not using oil, sliding or stroking movements are prevented, and the techniques applied are mainly several manipulations and stretches of the pressure points within the feet.
2. Focused on the feet only: This type of massage is usually done with the client sitting comfortably in a reclining chair with the feet resting on a stool. The massage therapist sits on a small stool while working on the feet. Oil or lotion is used for this type of foot massage, and the massage techniques applied are stroking movements with thumbs, knuckles or the entire palm. Working on the calf muscles is also a part of this massage.
Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Foot Massage session:
1. Drink water! – A good foot massage aids detoxification. The toxins are flushed out of our bodies through water. Hence water needs to be replaced in the body, keeping in mind that between 50-75% of our body consists of water. In order to restore water content after a massage, it is recommended to increase the amount you would normally drink. Adding a couple of extra glasses keeps you feeling better for longer. Also it is very important to note that the water content of a cup of tea, coffee, aerated drink or alcohol is not the same as that of pure drinking water. In fact such beverages must be avoided as they are diuretics, making you lose more fluid than gain when you drink them. This, in turn, creates an obstacle for the much required detoxification process.
2. Eat – Always have a snack handy after your foot massage. Since massage speeds up blood and lymph circulation, the functions of the digestive system are increased, hence creating the need for a fuel boost. At such times, an energy boost from a snack is a must!
3. Rest – Try to book your massage for a time when you are sure you can go straight home after it. A foot massage works on your muscles, similar to an intense work out, and so the time after the massage must be used to relax and retune. Do whatever that helps prolong that calm feeling of wellbeing – putting your feet up, reading a book, watching TV, having a nap, etc. Listen to your body and do what you feel like most.
4. Have a bath – Sinking into a nice warm bath after a massage can do wonders to your body and mind! Adding some Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) to the bath helps ease any aches and pains, while being absorbed through the skin. The warm water aids blood circulation by opening up the blood vessels.
5. Welcome any emotions – Both during and after a massage, as the body relaxes, it tends to release pent-up emotions. Feelings of elation, rejuvenation and even feeling a need to cry may arise. This is a normal phenomenon, welcome it, as prolonged stress impacts our bodies considerably, including our hormones, and this shows in our emotions. Massage helps reduce levels of the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and releases the feel good hormone oxytocin during massage, due to the skin-to-skin contact. Hence, welcoming any emotions during and after a massage is actually a good thing, and can leave you feeling much better afterwards .
6. Notice your body’s reaction – If, after a foot massage, your muscles feel a little sore, or they get overly tight, then they can constrict the blood vessels in the area, and over a period of time, stop the effective flushing out of waste in that area. Hence such a type of soreness lasting longer (more than a couple of days) indicates that the therapist might have worked the muscles harder than required. Once you notice such bodily reactions to a massage treatment, remember to tell your massage therapist about it at your next session, so that the treatment can be modified accordingly.
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