Growing older is a natural part of life, but one that can bring many health problems with it, including weakening bones. Although this will certainly slow you down, Thai massage could be a solution or, at the very least, a way to delay the erosion of bone matter.
Our bones often struggle to withstand the test of time, mostly because bone density naturally decreases in all of us as we get older, and a modern lifestyle with less physical activity and poor dietary choices compound that effect exponentially. A lower bone density means less bone strength, as well as a higher likelihood of bones fracturing under pressure.
This problem can occur in anyone, but according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, postmenstrual women are actually the most likely to suffer from a depletion of bone density.
For years we’ve been told that, if we consume plenty of calcium and potassium, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and exercise regularly, we’ll be strong and healthy. Unfortunately, we may begin to lose the ability to exercise and maintain this kind of lifestyle as we get older — a loss that leads to the inevitable weakening of our bones.
For older people, maintaining bone density is especially important, but can also be quite difficult. Could something as simple and relaxing as Thai massage be the solution they’ve been waiting for?
What Is Thai Massage?
Thai massage is a traditional method for healing the body, clearing the mind, and elevating the spirit that has persisted for thousands of years. Traditionally, the provider of a Thai massage applies pressure to the body using their hands, forearms, feet and knees to give the ideal amount of force. Firm, rhythmic pressure is applied along the Sen lines of the body, also known as the “energy lines.”
A Thai massage is typically performed on a padded mat without the use of oils, and usually incorporates the entire body. This may include any number of stretches, folds, deep pressure, or twists. Although some of this may sound somewhat unpleasant, it’s widely considered to be an extremely therapeutic experience, which is why its popularity is steadily increasing.
Can Thai Massage Actually Help?
We tend to think of massage as an art for relaxation, not one that could dramatically benefit your health — but could Thai massage somehow help with bone density? A recent study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggests that, when it comes to increasing bone density, the practice can have incredible benefits.
The study took place between March 2011 and March 2012, and tested a group of 48 postmenopausal women. A treatment group each received a two-hour Thai traditional massage twice a week for four weeks, while the control group waited these weeks out without undergoing treatment.
After this period, there was a two-week “washout” period before the groups were switched, and the same practice was repeated with the control group.
The results were astounding: the bone density of every single woman in the trial increased at least slightly after a period of massage therapy. The most promising change was seen in older women with smaller bodies, whose bone density was found to increase by up to 4.8%.
Is Thai Massage A Realistic Option?
Realistically, Thai massage requires commitment. Like any form of exercise, it needs to be practiced regularly in order to be as effective as possible. If you find significant, positive results after receiving regular Thai massages, it becomes apparent that regular practice is, without a doubt, worth the time put in.
Thai massage as a treatment for older people is a relatively new concept, and one that hasn’t been fully explored. Given the extremely positive results from this study, however, it’s likely that Thai massage could effectively be used to fight, assuage, or delay some of the more injurious effects of aging in the very near future.
By combining a respect for the history and traditions of this ancient practice and a thorough knowledge of modern anatomy and biomechanics, we (at Navina) are working towards greater recognition of all the physical benefits of our beloved practice.