I fell in love with Thai Massage about 15 years ago when I travelled to Thailand for the first time. Compared to the West, massages are very reasonable in Thailand and I try to have one on a regular basis when I am there.
Over the years I have had good massages and massages that weren’t so good.
What to look for when choosing a Thai Massage
There are many factors that one may consider when choosing a good Thai Massage Therapist. Some of these factors will depend on personal preference.
Below are some factors you may want to consider when choosing a massage therapist.
Does the therapist need to have a qualification from a reputable massage school?
Ideally the massage therapist should have gained a qualification from a reputable massage school.
However, in Thailand, massage skills are sometimes still passed on from one teacher to their staff or the skill might be passed on amongst family members.
If the teacher is a good one and is able to transfer his/her knowledge and skills correctly, then yes, even without a formal qualification someone can give a good massage.
Does the massage Therapist need to have any other qualifications such as in Anatomy and Physiology?
In England, if a therapist wants to register for insurance, he/she needs to have obtained a Diploma in Anatomy and Physiology. It is definitely beneficial if the therapist knows the anatomy of the body; in particular the location of muscles and bones as the client might indicate complaints prior to the massage. However, knowing the inside of the body does not necessarily improve the quality of the massage.
Thai Massage is an ancient skill and goes back over 2 500 years. At that time people did not know anything about anatomy. This might explain why blind people are usually very good at giving a Thai massage as they work with their intuition, which is the key to this massage.
The energy of the Massage Therapist
I am extremely sensitive and usually feel very quickly into the massage whether it is going to be a good massage or not. Although having knowledge about Thai massage is necessary, what is equally important is that the therapist has a good energy around them. If this is the case you will feel safe and taken care of and you will be able to let go and just relax into the massage and enjoy it. This is also the place from where deeper emotions can be released.
On the other hand, if the energy of the therapist is not good you will feel this too. So even if someone has all the qualifications in the world but their energy does not feel right then the massage won’t feel good either. A less sensitive person however, might not feel the difference as much as a person that is more sensitive.
What should be included in a Thai Massage?
A massage should always include work on the energy lines, known as Sen lines.
Most of the energy balance comes from working the energy lines of the body.
There are 72,000 Sen lines but usually only 10 lines are used in Thai Massage.
As the lines run through the stomach, the stomach should always be included even if it’s only briefly.
Some Yoga-like stretches are beneficial as these are great for opening up the body.
Feet, back, neck, shoulder and face should also be included in the massage.
The receiver should have a feeling of calm and completeness at the end of the massage.
A good therapist also won’t lose touch during the massage. There should always be contact with the receiver.
Thai Massage was originally practiced in Buddhist temples and has a close connection to the Buddhist teachings. A massage given by a therapist who is present and gives a massage with love and kindness, feels very different to a massage given by a therapist who is not present.
In the Buddhist teachings, the word for love and kindness in Pali language is called ‘Metta’.
A good therapist and someone that has mastered the skill over many years will be able to sense which area she/he needs to spend more time massaging to ease pain. She/he will also sense when the pressure might be too strong and will check in with the person who is receiving the massage, to ensure that they are comfortable at all times.
The amount of pressure is a matter of personal preference. However, even if someone does not like to receive a lot of pressure, the touch should still be firm.
Does the price of the massage make a difference to the quality of the massage?
Not necessarily. While in the West a massage in a Spa or 5 star hotel will be quite expensive, it does not guarantee that it will be a good massage.
I can truly say that I have experienced the best and cheapest massage for £5 for two hours in rural Thailand; but that is rural Thailand which does not have a Four Season setting.
As you will have noticed it is difficult to pinpoint one element of what makes a good Thai Massage: it is more a combination of many factors and personal preference too.
I hope that some of these tips will help you when choosing a massage therapist, but if in doubt the safest option is to go by recommendation.
Maybe you are yourself a massage therapist or you enjoy Massage as much as I do.
I would love to hear about your experience.