Stereotyped as a “recreational activity,” Thai massage is often overlooked as a credible method of therapy. If you look beyond the stereotype, however, you can discover all of its unique benefits.
Do I have good posture? Why does my neck hurt? Is my foot supposed to feel like that? Questions about self-care ricochet within our brains every day, as our shoulders hunch over the bright glow of our computers.
In the words of Co-Director and Founder of Navina Drew Hume, “society trains us to be tense.” During his years of experience and practice, Hume not only noticed that many clients fail to relax enough in their everyday lives, but also that they’ve completely forgotten how to do so.
With Thai massage, the body is encouraged to surrender to a series of postures under the tactile guidance of a practitioner — each move entails passive stretches, muscle compressions and joint articulations that help you loosen up your body and your mind.
Stress of All Kinds
When someone loses the ability to fully relax, a massage practitioner notices. Many of us — unconsciously and consciously — carry around tension in our bodies, and the origin of this tension usually has something to do with our occupation.
Rote movements and positions dominate our daily lives, creating underlying bodily tension. Thai massage helps our whole being slow down and welcome relaxation.
Beyond just relieving pent-up daily stress, Thai massage also targets more severe forms of bodily tension. For the past three years, a man with Parkinson’s disease has visited Hume after enduring the progressive disease for 19 years. Each week is different — sometimes, painful tremors halt the massage, and other times, his body his able to fully relax.
Each of these fluctuations tell Hume something about his progress and transformation, making him able to help his client’s overactive tissue relax as his muscles receive replenishment and rejuvenation.
After witnessing slow but sure progress and transformation, Hume said: “Underneath the tremors and the Parkinson’s, his body is so ready to receive. And that’s where his body is similar to everyone else’s.”
For another long-term client of Hume’s, transformation took the form of actual growth — at an annual physical, her height increased by 0.5 inches due to the gradual lengthening of her kyphosis. Thai massage not only helped to heal chronic pain and eliminate trigger points, but it also enhanced the range of motion and posture of her body through consistent work and practice.
Removing Insult from Injury
The RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) was once the end-all directive for soft tissue repair. These instructions, however, actually ignore the body’s natural healing patterns, when trusting the body always yields the best results.
Damaged soft tissue responds best to mindful movements within the first 72 hours after an injury. Thai massage can also be used after this period to enhance the healing process, and actually improves upon older and outdated medical traditions (specifically icing).
Within the body, movement lubricates joints and encourages blood flow to damaged areas bringing with it oxygen, nutrients, and healing cells that “nourish the surviving tissue, remove cellular debris, and provide the necessary building blocks for regeneration and repair.” Massage techniques untangle knots, dovetailing the newly formed tissue with the old.
Hume “can also manipulate the body into stretches that explore a pain-free range of motion, helping to ensure that tissues stay well lubricated and mobile, and that any stiffness is reduced.” Thai massage expedites and enhances the healing experience through carefully-crafted, individualized routines.
Time to Be Taken Seriously
Despite its many proven advantages, Thai massage is often still considered merely a recreational practice — disregarded as a method of therapy, most insurance companies even withhold coverage of Thai massage.
Because the practice is unregulated and lacking rigid standards of practice, training, expertise, quality, and experience can vary greatly. Navina wants to improve the standards for Thai massage and try to eradicate this stereotype.
Therapy takes many forms — as far as those that cover all the myriad forms of mental and physical stress that attack the body, Thai massage is certainly one of the best.