In this article, I’m looking at two of the more popular forms of massage therapy, Swedish massage vs Thai massage. These two forms of massage are actually very different, both in their practice and philosophies.
Thai massage is steeped in history and can be traced back thousands of years. It’s often referred to as ‘lazy yoga’, due to the therapist carrying out a lot of the positions found in yoga. While Swedish massage was developed in the 18th century by a Swedish masseuse named Per Henrik Ling and relies on hands-on techniques gliding over the body.
Both forms of massage are incredibly relaxing and have a lot of health benefits however, so let’s take a more detailed look at each and see which appeals more to you.
What Is a Swedish Massage?
Swedish massage is a form of massage that uses the main core massage techniques. The therapist uses oils on the client’s skin and with a combination of rubbing, kneading, gliding, and shaking, works over the whole body to relax and rejuvenate the client.
The goal of a Swedish massage is to stimulate the body to produce endorphins, increase blood flow, improve the body’s natural healing, and mentally relax the client. It’s an incredibly relaxing and refreshing experience that’s suitable for a wide range of people.
What to Expect from a Swedish Massage
One of the first things people wonder is, ‘will I have to be naked for a Swedish massage’. The answer is no, not if you’re not comfortable being naked. It’s recommended though, as it allows the therapist unrestricted access to all your muscle groups.
You will have towels draped over areas of your body that’s not being worked on and professional therapists will always respect your privacy. Therapists see all shapes and sizes of bodies all day long, you have nothing to be embarrassed about, trust me.
Before your session, the therapist will talk you through what to expect. Check you have no medical issues that would prohibit the massage, and give you the chance to ask any questions.
During the massage, the therapist will use essential oils or massage lotions. This makes the strokes a lot easier and more effective. A range of different strokes and motions will be used to target all your muscles and give you a deep, relaxing muscle massage.
It’s not painful in any way, it’s a soothing and relaxing experience. You get the most from it by leaving all your stresses and worries outside and letting yourself enjoy the moment.
Health Benefits of a Swedish Massage
Swedish massage is one of the most popular forms of massage therapy because it has a wide range of health benefits. Some of which are:
- Mentally relaxing and mood-lifting
- Release of natural ‘feel-good’ hormones
- Boosts all-around well-being and natural energy
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved lymphatic drainage
- Release of muscle tension and tightness
As you can see, Swedish massage doesn’t just work on your muscles and the tissues in your body. It has a lot of emotional and mental benefits.
What Is a Thai Massage?
Thai massage is a form of massage therapy designed to leave you in a deep state of relaxation and stretch your body in many different ways. It’s a physical massage, but has deep, profound mental effects that are tied into yoga and Ayurvedic forms of alternative healing.
It can be traced back thousands of years and really hasn’t changed much in this timeline. It’s unique when compared to other massage therapies in the way that the therapist gets involved with bending, twisting, stretching, and manipulating parts of your body.
Although it can be a little uncomfortable at first, everyone I know that has experienced a Thai massage has said they feel like a new person after and wouldn’t hesitate to have another.
What to Expect from a Thai Massage
You will be asked to lay on the floor. You stay fully clothed, removing your shoes and socks. Ideally, your clothes will not be too tight or restrictive, because you’re going to be bent and manipulated into different positions.
The therapist uses their hands, elbows, feet, forearms, palms, and shins to stretch and press areas of your body. The therapist works on opening up the main ‘channels’ of energy that flow through the body.
A typical session starts out feeling a little rough, but as it progresses you start to feel more comfortable as your body loosens up. Don’t be surprised if the therapist uses their own body weight to perform some of the bigger stretches.
Health Benefits of a Thai Massage
Thai massage has a wide range of physical, mental, and psychological benefits. Some of which are as follows:
- Stimulates the body’s natural healing
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves balance, posture, and flexibility
- Relieves pain
- Relieves stress and improves mood
- Improves natural energy
Swedish Massage vs Thai Massage
As you can see from what I’ve described here, Thai massage is a lot more comprehensive than a Swedish massage. It’s a completely different experience, with the therapist bending, stretching, and moving your limbs in different ways. Opposed to using their hands to apply different strokes as used in a Swedish massage.
Having a massage is a great way to get your mind, body, and spirit all working in harmony. Not to mention all the health benefits mentioned above that can have an immediate and direct impact on your well-being.
I recommend anyone to have both a Swedish massage and Thai massage at least once to experience these therapies. I hope this article has helped to explain the benefits of each type of massage, how they can help you and what to expect. If you have any comments about your own experiences I’d love to hear them, just drop a comment below!
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.