I have been doing a lot of yoga for the past year. I thought I was getting more flexible. I have also been working on my posture and alignment. It has improved. So all good…right? Erm…no. My Thai Massage lady would disagree with my conclusions; and after one torturous, but amazingly good, Thai Massage I am inclined to agree with her.
Side note – whilst getting my Thai massage I would agree with anything she says out of sheer fear :-)…in a good way.
What is a Thai Massage
It is a massage that is not for the faint hearted. No gentle rubbing of the shoulders with a Thai Massage. Basically the Thai massage is one where pressure is used alongside yoga like stretches. There is no oil but they will normally use some sort of balm. The pressure comes from the therapists feet, elbows and hands and pressure is applied along the energy lines of the body. It is pretty easy to find a good one if you are in Thailand but in Edinburgh I figured this might be more of a challenge. It wasn’t. There are some good Thai Spa places and whilst the one I went to wasn’t cheap, it is definitely worth it.
Why Choose this Massage?
To be honest I think it is personal preference. I am trying to work on my posture, allignment and flexibility so this was an obvious choice. I also hold tension without even realising it. It might be a job thing but, regardless, the difficulties I have noticed in my body by doing yoga are ones which a Thai massage can even out (aka pummel, crack, stretch out of me).
I have had lots of different types of massage in the past. From the beauty salon type with hot stones and gentle pressure to the Swedish style for specific sports injuries. Because I hold tension, however, I always think I need the masseuse to be pretty firm to work on any knots. In the past I chose men for this reason. Weird assumption to make given my Thai masseuse was about 5ft, tiny (I hardly felt her on my back) and clearly the strongest person in Edinburgh!
With a Thai massage you feel like you have had your moneys worth; especially when you are still feeling a tad tender for a couple of days but amazingly relaxed.
My Massage…The Fear
I was a little nervous last week when I rocked up to a place I had never tried before, to let someone pummel me with their feet, elbows and fists. Actually I was a lot bloody nervous. My therapist packed a real punch.
Anyway – loose clothes on and I lay down on the floor mattress. Lovely surrounds, gentle music and scents of Thailand. But…. I was still nervous; especially when she got on my back and started. Lots of agggghhhhhh’s (silently of course)….with attempts to breathe through it. This didn’t always work and I full on giggled when things were ‘cracked’. She did ask me to say if the pressure was too much or too little (not a bloody chance of the latter) but I told her to just keep it as it was because I knew it was working.
There was knots / tightness literally everywhere. I thought it was my shoulders which were bad but it was also my: back, hamstrings, legs (every bit of them), feet and toes. Lots of things felt ‘owch’ but I could feel things literally melting away as she did her work.
The ending was just as scary as the rest. This was the bit where she got me to sit wide legged whilst she stretched me back and cracked my back, stretched me in the oddest of ways and cracked my neck.
The Outcome: The Return
She said I would be a bit tender for a few days. She was not wrong! The first night I found it hard to sleep on my back. But despite the tenderness my back felt like it had melted away and I was really relaxed. Everything felt more open. My shoulders are starting to relax into a good posture rather than a tight / rounded posture. My hips are feeling great and my legs looser. Everything just feels a bit more even.
I was back yesterday for a follow up. This time we did an oil massage so that she could focus more on massaging out my back and legs. To be honest I expected this to be like a hard Swedish massage but it bordered on Thai without the clothes on and with oil. It was great, still owch, still scary, but the second one has shown me exactly where I am uneven. I know now why my yoga balances are better on one leg than the other and why I just can’t manage some of the binds.
So am I going back? Yep. It is likely to scare me every time but the outcome and the process is worth it. Massage is something that really benefits people who hold tightness. It benefits the body and it has also benefitted my mind. So it is going to be a regular part of my routine. Hopefully it will also benefit my posture and my yoga. Tips for getting through it – don’t be surprised when she gets on your back and try to smile your way through it. You will be smiling about how great you feel after.