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Swedish Massage Vs. Thai Massage

Updated: Sep 28, 2018

Trying to decide which massage is best for you? Read on...


There are great benefits for both Swedish massage and Thai yoga massage. Both types of massage techniques offer many benefits, some overlap, others remain unique to their type.


History

First it is important to understand the history of each type of massage and what the purpose of each massage is. This will give a clear understanding of the background and theory of each type of massage, which will allow you to make a better, more informed choice.


Swedish massage was originally created by a man named Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909). He was not a Swede, nor did he reside in Sweden. He was a Dutch practitioner who coined the names of the French massage techniques used in what we know today as Swedish massage. Techniques associated with a well know Swede known as Peter Ling, who researched the origins of massage and gymnastics, have been misconstrued with Johan Georg Mezger’s work for centuries. Having confused these gymnastics/massage techniques with Mezger’s French massage terms for so many years, with no correction, we have come to accept the term Swedish massage to describe the specific techniques used in classic massage.



Swedish Massage

The Massage Therapy Act, 1991, describes massage therapy as,

"The practice of massage therapy is the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissues and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain." (Massage Therapy Act, 1991)

There are many types of massage techniques used in Swedish massage. #Effleurage, #petrissage, rocking, stroking and gentle vibrations are some basic massage techniques that help improve the flow of blood and lymph through the superficial tissues of the body while encouraging relaxation. Deeper techniques, such as, kneading, trigger point therapy, #frictions, #jointplay and #fascial techniques are manually applied with the hands, knuckles, fingers or elbows, usually with more pressure to specific #musculoskeletal irritations (i.e. #myofascial #triggerpoints also known as #knots) found in the intermediate and deeper tissues of the body. These help ease the pain of #muscletension and release built up toxins collected in the tissues caused from #stress or misuse.


All techniques are used in accordance with your pain tolerance and can be modified or changed to your preference. Swedish massage can be useful for those seeking #relaxation, specific injury repair and overall #healing affects both the body and mind.


This type of massage is usually performed on a massage table, where the client undresses in accordance with the treatment requirements and client’s comfort level. All standards are followed in accordance with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics guidelines set out by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (#CMTO). These guidelines protect the public by enforcing strict ethical standards that regulate the practice of massage therapy.

This treatment usually includes the use of oil directly on the skin to create a gliding movement over the tissues. This allows the techniques to be performed with ease and creates a therapeutic connection between the client and the practitioner. Some of the techniques may be used without oil for a more brisk, stimulating treatment (i.e. sports massage).


Swedish massage is recommended for those wishing to relieve pain from specific issues relating to the musculoskeletal system, circulatory system, respiratory system, lymphatic system, immune system, nervous system, and digestive system. The techniques used can be direct or indirect and can be light or deep depending on the client’s tolerance.


After the treatment, most people report they feel “looser” or lighter in the area that was worked on. With a full body treatment, usually clients feel overall general relaxation and experience deeper more beneficial sleep.


Side effects of a Swedish massage include mild pain, sleepiness or slight disorientation. Occasionally, a feeling of being light-headed may also be experienced. These common symptoms are due to the movement and release of toxins in the body. These symptoms usually pass within 24 -48 hours. Having said that, not everyone feels side effects after having a Swedish massage. Clients are usually more in tune with how they feel after a massage if they are aware of how they felt before the treatment.



Thai Massage




#Thaimassage has been practiced in Eastern medicine for centuries. It is part of a daily routine that includes a good diet, regular exercise as well as consumption of herbs and tonics.


Thai massage was originally created in Thailand by Jivaka Kumarabhacca as extension to his medical practice as an ancient healer. Thai massage is a unique form of massage taken from Buddhist practices from India and throughout Asia. In the East, Thai massage is performed on the floor with the clients wearing loose comfortable clothing such as cotton fisherman’s pants. This allows the body to be moved with out obstruction of clothing. It is practiced in homes on family members on a daily basis to maintain health and well being. Foreign clients are not usually assessed before treatment, as there is usually a language barrier preventing proper translation of the symptom picture. Thankfully, the practitioners in Thailand have extensive experience with Thai massage and can easily assess each client and determine their massage needs as they gracefully glide through the massage treatment. These treatments last as long as the practitioner feels the need to treat, usually ranging from 1 to 3 hours in length.


In the West, Thai massage is performed on a large dense mat on the floor. Clients are asked to wear loose fitting or comfortable clothing, such as gym clothes or yoga gear. No removal of clothing is necessary as the techniques are applied over the clothing and there is minimal skin contact. The type of treatment is usually determined by a brief assessment and health history review. However, most of the assessment is usually incorporated into the treatment and each treatment outcome is compared with the outcomes of the next session. The sessions range from half hour to 2 hours in the West as our culture usually adheres to more regimented time restraints.


It can be performed by a regulated health practitioner such as a Registered Massage Therapist or a licensed holistic practitioner in Ontario who has been trained in the art of Thai massage. It is recommended that you attend a practice from either of these practitioners to ensure you receive a quality treatment. You may also be able to claim the treatment on your extended health benefits program if you receive a treatment from a registered massage therapist as Thai massage is covered under their scope of practice and is considered registered massage.


The practice of Thai massage includes many different techniques such as leaning pressure, stroking, Thai hacking, sweeping, blood stopping and stretching. It can be light or deep depending on the client’s tolerance and needs. The client is gently moved through many modified #yoga postures by the therapist and is asked to remain relaxed throughout the massage to increase the benefits of the massage. All joints of the body are addressed in this Tai-Chi like treatment as each limb is gently pressed into multiple stretches that encourage an increased range of motion and reminds the body of its previous abilities. This creates body #awareness to the client that they otherwise would not achieve on their own.

The client can be placed on their back (supine), front (prone) or on their side during the treatment. Some parts of the massage may be interactive, where the therapist assists the clients into seated or inverted postures. Pillows or blocks are used to provide extended support or comfort to the client depending on their needs.


After the massage, clients report feeling #lightness in their step, #balanced, clear headed, “put together again” and sometimes the sensation is reported as feeling taller as the spine is lengthened in #traction. This is due to the movement of energy in the body and the manual lengthening of the joints and muscles. The pressing and #stretching techniques manipulate the #energy, releasing blockages caused by pain and discomfort. Because the body is made up of energy and thrives on the balanced flow of energy in the body, this type of treatment addresses the whole body, including mind and spirit.


Receiving Thai massage on a regular basis is recommended to prevent future disease and pain. To determine when you should return for another treatment should be based on how you feel after each session and what your short and long term goals are with this type of treatment. These can be discussed with your practitioner after your first session.


In conclusion, to determine which massage is best for you, consider the following questions:

Do you have a specific ailment that needs to be addressed or thoroughly assessed?

If so, is it a local or systemic problem?

Do you need static or specific body awareness?

Are you comfortable with the use of oil on your skin during the treatment?

Do you have trouble lying on the floor?

Do you prefer the therapeutic touch of the hands on your skin?

Do you need specific release of #scartissue or reduction of #adhesions?

Do you prefer a completely passive treatment?

Do you like feeling sleepy after a massage?

If you answer YES to any of the questions above, you may want to consider #SwedishMassage.



Do you need functional body awareness?

Do you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time?

Do you often feel #tired and#overworked?

Do you prefer #deeppressure?

Do you want the feel the benefits of yoga but can’t seem to find the time to get to a class or don’t feel well enough to perform it yourself?

Do you prefer to feel #energetic after a massage?

Do you want something to compliment your #exercise routine?

Do you #play #sports or are you highly #active?

Do you feel uncomfortable undressing for a massage (even if the exact draping and covering procedures are followed?

Do you have trouble stretching or lengthening #muscles or #joints?

Do you prefer the pressing and lengthening of all aspects of your body to educe profound #

energetic results?

If you answer YES to most of the above questions, you may want to consider #Thaimassage.


Talk to your health practitioner to better determine which type of massage you may require. Keep in mind, your needs can change on a day to day basis, so it may be beneficial to incorporate both Thai and Swedish massage into your routine.





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