There’s nothing more relaxing than a nice massage, so knowing the difference between a Thai and Swedish massage makes a big difference to how you feel afterwards. While both help to relax the mind and body, they both use very different techniques.
Let’s take a look at the two different massage techniques and what benefits they provide.
More and more people are discovering the benefits of a Thai massage.
A Thai massage is based on Ayurvedic medicine and it is designed to free any blockages in your Sen or energy lines. The idea is that energy lines flow through your body and any ‘blockage’ in these will cause you problems. The aim of the massage is not just to relax your muscles but to treat your whole body and mind. This is done through bending and stretching your body to restore the correct energy flow.
While the massage giver is carrying out the massage, they will always be in contact with your own body, and for some movements they may even sit on top of you. Your body will be moved into many different positions each designed to give you the full benefit of every stretch. At the end of the massage your energy flow should be fully restored and you should feel totally invigorated.
It uses no oils, you remain fully clothed and it can take up to 2 hours.
Before you go for your massage
If you want a Thai massage you should wear light, loose fitting clothing which allows your body to move. You should also check the credentials of the person who will be giving the massage, to make sure that they are properly trained in this procedure.
Thai massage isn’t suitable for everyone so if you suffer from any of the following medical conditions, it may not be suitable for you. If in doubt consult your medical practitioner.
- Arthritis or inflamed joints
- Varicose veins
- If you are prone to dislocated joints
- If you are not very flexible
For your Thai massage you will lie on a mat or mattress on the floor. You will stay fully clothed but will have to remove your shoes and socks.
Your massage will then consist of the massage giver pressing and stretching all parts of your body, using their own body to create the right tension. For some people this close contact can feel somewhat uncomfortable, but as you start to feel the benefits of the massage you will soon get used to it.
The first part of the massage will involve the practitioner pressing down on certain areas of your body which will help to remove any blockages in your energy flow which will help to relieve pain. When they do this you will find your body constantly being pulled in different directions as every Sen Channel is released in all directions.
When the massage giver is happy that all the soft tissue has been suitably pressed and released, they will then start stretching. This will be quite gentle at first but as the massage progresses the stretches will become larger so that every muscle and joint is treated. If you are not very flexible this can prove to be very uncomfortable. The more you have a Thai massage, the more you will find yourself becoming increasingly supple.
At the end of your massage you should feel relaxed and full of energy.
As with all massages Thai massage has its own benefits.
- Stretching your muscles and joints helps to relieve tension in your muscles and helps create a more supple and flexible body.
- By improving your Sen flow, or energy flow, the massage helps to reduce pain all over the body.
- The Thai massage process can also be compared to a yoga workout, and this helps provide you with a general feeling of calm and well-being
- It is firmly believed that keeping the energy flow clear of obstructions helps to stimulate the nervous system and keep you relaxed.
- You should feel calm but full of life and with a lot more energy.
- The Thai massage process helps release serotonin which makes you feel happier and less stressed.
- Moving and stretching the body throughout the massage also helps improve your general circulation, and helps increase the oxygen levels around your body.
A Swedish massage is what most people think of when they consider a massage. Developed in Sweden, it is also the most popular choice of massage.
This type of massage uses oils and different stroke techniques to help relieve muscle tension. The gentle style of this means it is appropriate for everyone, though care should be taken by the practitioner with certain medical conditions. Different oils can be used to help create a different feeling so that the end of your massage you can feel relaxed, energized, or stimulated.
Depending on whether you want a partial or full body massage, it can take between 40 and 90 minutes and you will need to undress.
Before you go for your massage
A Swedish massage is carried out on the skin so you will have to undress. It’s worth checking with your practitioner before you go whether they provide you with disposable underwear or if you should provide your own. The use of oils can also stain your clothing when you’re finished, so it’s best to wear something old. You should be provided with towels to cover yourself during the treatment.
If you do suffer from any medical conditions always inform the practitioner before they start, especially if you may be pregnant. They should discuss with you any problems you are experiencing so that they can tailor your massage to help with this. As with a Thai massage, always use a certified practitioner.
When you arrive for your Swedish massage you will be allowed to undress in private and then you will lie down on the massage table where you will be covered with towels. The towels will be removed as the therapist works on each area, then they will be replaced.
A proper massage table will have a hole at one end so that when you lie on your front your face will fit inside so you can lie fully flat.
During your massage your practitioner will rub the oil into all of your muscles making sure that the blood is pushed in the direction of your heart. The oils help reduce any friction so that the strokes will be long and smooth which helps reduce the tension in your muscles.
Some muscles may be tapped or kneaded if they are particularly tense, and your practitioner may also feel that some muscles will benefit from slight stretching.
If you don’t want your whole body treated, you can choose instead to have only certain areas massaged, the most popular being the neck, back and shoulders. At the end of your massage you should feel calm and relaxed.
There are five different strokes which your practitioner can use depending on your needs.
- Effleurage. This is probably the most common stroke used, and involves long smooth strokes to relax the muscles. It will also help improve your circulation and increase blood flow.
- Petrissage. This involves kneading, rolling the skin, squeezing or pinching various parts of the body.
- Tapotement. This is often used towards the end of massage as the technique is less relaxing and is designed to wake you up. It involves tapping with the hands or fingers and can sometimes include chopping.
- Vibration or Shaking. This process quite literally shakes the muscles to help relax them.
- Friction. Heat is a good way to relax the muscles and this technique is designed to do just that. The muscles are rubbed in such a way as to cause friction which then causes the heat to help them relax.
As well as different techniques there are also different types of Swedish massage available. These can include aromatherapy, which is very common, hot stones, couples massage and even massage in a chair. Your practitioner can discuss your requirements and help you choose the right one for you.
A Swedish massage, like all massages, offers many benefits.
- It helps to relieve muscle tension and stiffness and reduce pain
- It will relax the whole body which in turn helps reduce stress.
- The long strokes improve the circulation which helps detoxification.
- The oil used can help nourish and moisturize the skin.
- Thanks to the gentle action, this type of massage can be used on tender muscles.