The following article is written written for TraditionalThaiMassage.net by Remco van de Visch, who is a Thai massage teacher in Chiang Mai. If you want to learn Thai massage, then you really want to read this article. Neither Remco nor I are native English speakers, so you might catch a grammatical error here and there – but the tips that are shared inside are excellent, and many books on Thai massage don’t go into that much detail. So here’s the article:
Thai Massage and Body Mechanism
For sure one of the most important principles of a good Thai massage is having the right body mechanism. In my teachings at the Blue Garden Chiang Mai (www.thaimassagechiangmai.com
) I work intensively with my students to make sure they will get this right. The reasons herefore are that once you master this, to give a good Thai massage gets so much easier and also very important it will save your career as a massage therapist; once you understand the right bodymechanisms you know how to massage without injuring your body.
No muscle power
The first aspect is that we are not using muscle power, but using our bodyweight. By shifting our bodyweight on to our palms (or thumbs, elbow, etc) we are creating pressure. Important hereby is that we relaxing our body, which means that our posture is not creating tension for our selves. In practice this can be quite difficult, because in every day life we are so used to use force and power. One of my teachers use to say if you can not be relaxed your self while massaging how can your client be relaxed. In other words you will be tenser and you transfer the tension towards your client.
The difference between bodyweight and muscle power for pressure is that the first one feels much softer (less sharp), allows the therapist to go deeper, and makes it possible to transfer energy much more freely.
Massage from the center of your body
Further aspects of good body mechanisms is to always massage from the center of you body, so you are not un necessary twisting you back or reaching away. When you learning massage always give your self the time to find the right position. Just remember that once you get in the habit of mis using your body you will do this day in and day out and over time you will create injuries.
Always be in a 90 degree angle to the point you massaging; for example with a single palm press, look at the line form you shoulder to your palm (to the point your applying pressure) they should be in 90 degrees angle.
Common mis alignments of the therapist
1. The lower back is rounded or over arched; Try the have the lower back in its natural position
2. Rounding our upper back
3. Hunching the shoulders, goes together with 2 (rounding upper back). Keep upper back straight and draw your shoulders down the back
4. Bending the elbows. Very often going together with hunching the shoulders. When you draw your shoulders down the back automaticly the elbows will go straight.
One of the easiest adjustments tips is to imagine that you are opening your heart. If you imagine this your chest will sink in and automaticly your lower and upper back will be straight and you will draw your shoulders down the back
Different body types
People are build differently, not all techniques will be suited to be performed by everybody, or can not be performed on everybody. Be sensible towards this. Same if a client is asking for more pressure, but you are leaning in with all bodyweight, do not start using muscle power, It is always very easy to compensate with muscular power or take an unnatural position. But by doing this you are creating tension in your own body, which overtime will create problems. From the very beginning of your instruction, if a particular movement is causing you pain, you should stop. You should not push yourself, as is often done in various types of exercises, but realize that either the movement is not being done correctly or something in your own body mechanics is not right. There always many alternatives which will not hurt your body. Just think about this: How can you heal someone if you are hurting yourself?
Some last words
A good posture should not cause pain to your body, allows you to relax your body and by shifting your weight you can increase or decrease the pressure.
Remco van de Visch is Thai Massage teacher at Blue Garden Chiang Mai, at where he guided many students to become professional therapist, www.thaimassagechiangmai.com, email@example.com