After far too much complaining about our sore necks and back muscles after a grueling workout, my American friend and I knew it was time for the ultimate healing treatment: a Thai massage. To share an interesting tidbit, I’m Thai, but I’d never had a Thai massage. As the host led us to our rooms, nervousness began to creep into me. I’d heard some horror stories from people: my sister ended up with a high fever, and a friend of mine could hardly walk for days.
My friend assured me that, done right, a Thai massage is the best body treatment on the planet. We were at massage spa renowned for its professionalism. Relax already!
Still feeling edgy, I chose as my masseur, a slim young man whose arms were as thin as bamboo stalks, figuring he’d be gentle. However, like bamboo, this masseur was stronger than steel. He pulled, pushed and twisted my body into positions it had never known before.
The massage began lying face down, and the young masseur began with my feet. I almost burst out laughing a few times because of a ticklish feeling, but it felt SO good, especially when he put a lot of pressure into the middle of my soles.
When he moved up to my calves, I nearly flew the white flag of surrender. With his deceptive strength, he worked into the deep tissue, a hallmark technique of Thai massage. He pressed his thumbs into my calf muscles, and I involuntarily twisted away to escape the pain. He had to sweet talk me relax and keep still!
After the first rough minutes, we start chatting, and he found out this was my first Thai massage ever. He was shocked that I could take the pain with so little complaint, and said I should have told him. For the remaining time, he blessed me with the most amazing medium-pressure treatment. Needless to say, I enjoyed the rest of the massage more than the beginning, and made a note to myself to speak up for my next massage.
Traditional Thai massage is a trademark of Thailand, and it’s done in a variety of ways. You can have a full body massage, like I did, where you lie on your back and your front at different times throughout the session. Usually these start at the feet and work up. The face and head massage at the end is blissful. You can also have a foot massage, which is really a foot and leg massage, where you sit in a reclining chair. A back and neck massage focuses on the tension that builds up from everyday stress. This is a lifesaver for those of us stuck in front of computer desks all day. If you mention that you work on a computer, you’ll get extra attention to your overused typing and sitting muscles.
Other delicious options at Thailand massage spas include body polish (rejuvenation of your skin), facial treatments with herbs, aromatherapy, and detox saunas.
Now here’s the rub (forgive the pun): after two hours of my highly intense massage, I could hardly walk down the stairs. I tottered so ridiculously that my friend failed to stifle a chuckle.
If this happens to you, DON’T DESPAIR. This is your body realigned to its healthiest position. Toxins have been released from your muscles and circulatory system (which may cause that fever that my sister got).
Whether or not you feel sore, the final step to your Thai massage is lots of refreshing water and tea to flush out the toxins, and a good long nap to let your body relax. Like me, you’ll wake up feeling nirvana … you’ll go back as often as you can. Take it from me, the skeptic turned devotee!
By Kriengsak Athikomvittaya