Nuad Thai Massage is a clothed massage, traditionally practiced on a thick mat on the ground, that utilizes a combination of techniques borrowed from Chinese Acupressure and India’s traditions of Yoga and Ayurveda. By combining pressure applied with fingers, palms, elbows, knees, and feet, on energy lines and points as well as a variety of stretching techniques, Nuad Thai can produce highly therapeutic effects including deep relaxation, reduced fatigue, decreased pain, improved range of motion, increase one’s energy, and more.
This style of this massage is unique in that the ideal length is usually two hours although it can be performed in as little as one hour. The pace of Nuad Thai is slow, meditative, and follows the rhythm of one’s breath. Often starting at the feet, techniques follow a pattern, soft, hard, soft. First, the focus is on warming the body and stimulating the energy lines. Second, firmer pressure is applied to reduce deeper tension and increase stretches. Lastly, soft pressure is used to “make nice” and relax the area. By following this pattern across the body, soft, hard, soft, or massage the energy line, deeper stretching / pressure, and relaxing, the joints loosen and the body warms up for deeper movement as the massage progresses.
Benefits of Nuad Thai
Reduced Fascial Restriction - fascia is a layer of connective tissue that forms chains, which connects the body, and surrounds all muscle. The pattern of Thai Massage, 1. Massage the energy line, 2. Deeper pressure / stretching, and 3. Relaxation, helps to reduce restrictions in the connective tissue, which can affect the rest of the chain and the muscles simultaneously.Increase Range of Movement - by combining warming techniques and acupressure with passive stretching, joints move more easily and muscles progressively relax to allow greater movement.
Increase Energy - Thai Massage has a focus on Sen lines. By combining this work with yoga-like movements, this modality often leaves clients feeling calm, alert, and energized unlike some spa treatments which focus on deep relaxation.
Improve Circulation - because Thai Massage combines joint mobilization with some techniques in other forms of massage, including compressions and acupressure, new blood and nutrients are transported throughout the body leaving clients feeling rejuvenated.
Improved Posture - increasing joint and muscle range of movement and reducing myofascial restrictions will allow the body to relax into more natural and comfortable postures. Combining this massage with stretching and strengthening routines on one's own will have long lasting effects.
Reduce Back Pain - Thai Massage focuses on many areas of the body that can lead to back pain like glutes, adductors, and the abdomen, which are often left out in other forms of massage.Reduce Common Injury - movement is key to staying injury free. Thai Massage includes mobilization and stretches for all of the major joints in the body including the ankle, knee, hip, spine, elbow, and shoulder.
Reduced Fatigue - increasing range of movement, decreasing restrictions in the body, breathing deeply, all of these are key ingredients to a healthy body. When one moves more, breathes deeply, this can bring one into full awareness of their body and feeling “like new.”
Deep Relaxation - moving with the breath, continuous even for a short time, can create a hypnotic effect. Many clients may even fall asleep.
Contraindications and Cautions
General contraindications are the same as most other massages though Thai Massage is more “active” than other forms of massage and therapists need to take some more caution than other modalities. Modifications can often be made to a session. It is always important to speak with the therapist and/or with a doctor before receiving any kind of massage.
History of dislocations, joint replacements, and joint injury - because Thai Massage involves bending, stretching, and moving the body in various ways, it is always good to tell your therapist about any injuries.
Spinal Injury - herniated discs, fused vertebrae, and other spine injuries are contraindicated for Thai Massage since there is a lot of bending, lifting, and twisting.
Arthritis and Bursitis - just because one may have arthritis does not mean they should not receive Thai Massage. In fact, some moment and circulation may be beneficial to reducing some symptoms. Just be aware when symptoms flare up and are painful.
Burynski, Jill. “Thai Massage: Foundation and Basic Principles.” Massage Therapy Journal, 2018, pp. 46–74.
Setthakorn, Chongkol, and Atchara Setthakorn. Naud Bo-Rarn = Nūat Bōrān: Ancient Massage of Thailand (Northern Style). 10th ed., International Training Massage School, 2014.
Wilson, Debra Rose, editor. 14 Nov. 2018.