Thai Massage vs. Swedish Massage – Learn the Difference

Thai massage vs. Swedish Massage is an experience that is out of this realm. It provides a unique sense of calm that any other sensation cannot match. Different nations and cultures practise or use other various massage techniques with varying degrees of tranquillity, feel, and vibrance.

For those who don’t know about massages, it is a practice that helps relieve muscular pain. Usually, the person who massages puts pressure using their hands to press points or parts facing strain due to muscular tension, stress, pain, or injury. 

There are various causes of muscular pains, but they’re somehow related to stress, anxiety, and the disappearance of a healthy lifestyle.

Since there are different causes of muscular pains, each type of muscular pain needs other massages. So if you’re seeking answers to understand the needs, reasons, or differences in different massage styles, especially between Thai or Swedish Massage, then this article is for you.

Massage

In English, the word “massage”comes from the French word “massage” for “friction of kneading”. However, etymologically, the word “massage” is thought to be derived from Arabic (Massa meaning ‘to touch’) or Greek (μάσσω, i.e., massō meaning to handle with hands).

It’s also interesting to note that the term “massage therapist” is relatively new. In the recent past, the word “Masseuse” indicated a female massage therapist.. Whereas for males, the word was ‘Masseurs.’ It wasn’t until recently that a gender-neutral term, ‘Massage therapist,’ was given to the people working in this industry. 

Massage is one of the oldest practises to relieve stress and is believed to be 5000 years old in ancient eastern and western worlds with many endless benefits.

The Egyptian era tells us more about the history behind massage via images and written texts on the walls. The photos show how early massage therapists in the royal kingdom used to massage their ruler’s backs to heal mental and physical anguish. In Indian history, most of the maharajas also received massage treatment from their workers. 

Indian people believed that massages helped create harmony in the person’s mind and soul. So most Indians started considering it a holistic medical treatment over the period. 

Now the majority of the subcontinent uses this practice in their daily lives. And that’s why many older adults know more than basic knowledge and tactics of providing instant relief using massage.

Difference Thai Massage vs Swedish Massage

Basic Overview of Thai Massage and Swedish Massage

Thai Massage

Thai massage tactics are believed to have been developed 2500 years ago by a physician named Jivaka Komarabhacca. He belonged to the Magadha capital of Rajagaha in Thailand during the King Bimbisara period.

It originated from Thailand, but China, India, and Southeastern Asia started adopting it due to widespread benefits. It gradually became part of Indian and Chinese cultures with additions like Yoga and traditional medical practises. 

Due to the significant influence of Indian traditional medical and physical practises, this massage is also called Yoga massage.

Swedish Massage

On the other hand, Swedish Massage originated in Sweden by a fencing instructor named Per Henrik Ling. Like Thai massage, much additional external influence has caused Swedish Massage to change its original techniques. However, Swedish people are still used to the old ways of doing Swedish massage treatment today. 

With over the years of western influence, some countries like the US version of the massage, which is somehow different from the actual Swedish Massage. 

Procedure Of Massages

Have a look at the differences between Thai Massage and Swedish Massage procedures. As you can see that both have different names, the reason behind this is that they both have other methods and systems. These distinct procedures and techniques make them separate sometimes in contrasting ways.

Thai Massage

Thai massage sessions can take anywhere from 80 to 90 minutes, and the individual receiving the message is merely requested to lie down on a yoga mat on the floor. 

Unlike conventional massages, the individual receiving the massage therapy is actively asked to participate in the treatment. 

As Thai massage is performed on the floor, the body is exposed to a strong foundation, which allows elements such as gravity and pressure to play a significant part in correcting the recipient’s posture. 

Experts don’t usually apply  any oil or lotion to make you feel better. They just put pressure and use stretching to work.

The pulling and stretching techniques employed in Thai massage are similar to those used in Yoga. The massage therapist will stretch and move your body in yoga-style poses. It’s referred to as assisted yoga massage.

Thai Massage incorporates several practises from classical Indian yoga, such as applying moderate stretching by massage therapists to release muscle tension. Stretching and pulling techniques are often used in this sort of massage to aid muscular flexibility. 

Variation of Thai massage

Variations of Thai Massage

Thai Massage has two significant variations as follows. 

Southern-style Thai Massage.

Northern style Thai massage.

Nuat Rajchasumnakuse’s practice inspires two types of Thai massage. Both styles use different styles to stretch the main energy points to break muscle tension. However, stretching, muscle manipulation using hands, and exercising different amounts of pressure on multiple energy spots are the same practises in both styles.

Among other similar things is the concept of 72000 Thai sen lines. Thai people firmly believe that 10 out of 72000 veins in the body are the main lines. Hence only treating them with proper massaging techniques will help the blood flow. This process will eliminate any constraints in the bloodlines. This flow will ultimately benefit the sore muscles and strained joints. 

Southern Style Thai massage

You may call it an aggressive massage practice, but it is influenced by Chinese Massage and Indian-influenced yoga practice. That may seem a bit confusing because Chinese people are not that aggressive.

Due to its energetic impact, most people prefer to have it when most activity is required.

Northern Style Thai massage

Northern style is more gentle and is believed to carry Northern Thai people’s influence. However, it also has some Indian massage practice techniques and postures. 

It is very gentle and has a calming impact on the person receiving the massage. The northern-style massage is so peaceful that people can fall asleep during their massage sessions. 

The northern style focuses on sen lines.

Northen style Thai bodywork

Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage can take approximately 60 to 90 minutes. The person receiving the Swedish massage is laid on the bed with no clothes. The massage therapist gives a specific time to get undressed and be ready for the massage.

Unlike Northern Style Thai massage, you won’t be asked by the massage therapist to engage in the massage. The only thing you will need to get a massage is to lay down on the soft bed and relax.

Since there will be no clothes, massage therapists will make you cover those parts of the body that won’t be receiving massages with a white piece of cotton cloth.  

The massage is gentle and performed on the bed on the whole body, making Swedish Massage very relaxing. Unlike Thai massage, this doesn’t require any hard floor to make proper postures since most work is done by kneading, tapping, percussion, rolling, and vibration.

Most kneading and percussion require frictionless skin surfaces, and Swedish massage therapists often use oil and lotion. The use of oil and cream helps reduce friction and increase moisturization, making your body more apt to receive a massage.

The initiation of Swedish Massage occurs from the back. A massage therapist will glide their hands from lower back to upper back, simultaneously focusing on any knots or regions where possible muscle spasms or tensions exist. And on finding out any strains, the massage therapist will use a continuous gliding technique until it gets resolved.

Afterward, the massage therapist will probably go for your next body part, such as your neck, legs, shoulders, arms, hands, and, lastly, feet.

Sometimes they also give Swedish head massage (scalp massage) that is believed to be a part of Indian head massage practice.  

There are five unique strokes used for Swedish Massage, namely:

Petrissage: kneading and squeezing. 

  • Tapotement: tapping done by cupping hands or fingertips.
  • Friction: building friction and creating easy blood flow circulation.
  • Effleurage: gliding.
  • Petrissage: kneading and squeezing. 
  • Tapotement: tapping done by cupping hands or fingertips.
  • Friction: building friction and creating easy blood flow circulation.

Benefits Of Thai Massage

Improved posture

There is no doubt that Thai massage improves posture. As the massage is performed on the floor, it significantly impacts the spinal cord’s posture, which helps improve overall posture issues.

Increased range of motion

Due to the Yoga techniques involved in the Massage, Thai Massage significantly increases mobility. We all know how yoga works for bones and joints; so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Thai massage enhances flexibility and, in turn, improves mobility.

Pain management

No doubt that Thai massage is very beneficial for pain management. The northern style Thai massage helps in muscle stress management and ensures that the pain does not return.

Relieves Joint Stiffness

This massage soothes and relieves joint stiffness with excessive stretches and pulling techniques. Many people affected by osteoporosis or osteoarthritis have noted magnificent pain relief elements upon receiving a Thai massage.

Benefits Swedish therapy

Benefits of Swedish Massage

Improves sleep patterns

Gliding and squeezing techniques often help patients sleep during massage sessions. The increase in blood circulation, especially around the neck and back, improves sleeping patterns and provides relaxation.

Blood circulation

The five strokes used in the Swedish Massage help regulate blood circulation since it’s an overall body massage, blood regulation increases in the whole body, not in the specific areas.

Lowers Stress levels

After receiving a Back Massage, your stress levels will improve for sure. All the knots and muscle contractions get resolved and relieve the person from any pain. 

It also helps in anxiety and work-overload stress caused by office work or a particular personal stuff.

Painless spine and back

The best thing about this massage is how it helps relieve tensions and knots using oil and lotion. Often people with back pain or spinal cord issues benefit a lot from the massage.

Who is not advised to receive Thai Massage?

People with or having gone through the following are advised not to receive Thai Massage:

Cardiovascular Disease

  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer

Who is not allowed to receive a Swedish Massage?

People facing or having gone through the following are not advised to receive Swedish Massage or proceed with caution:

Skin Disease or Cancer

  • Circulatory system Problems
  • Ulcer
  • Colitis
  • Irritable Bowel syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Varicose veins
  • High blood Pressure
  • Burns, Rashes, or allergies.

FAQs

Which massage is better: Thai Massage or Swedish Massage?

Thai Massage will suit you best if you face joint issues and osteoarthritis. Thai Massage mainly focuses on mobility and stiffness along with muscle tension. However, Swedish Massage will work best for you if you are a workaholic and spend most of your time working in the office with overloaded stress.

How often should I have a Thai massage or Swedish massage?

You can visit a massage therapist once a week, but you can discuss it with your therapist if you face frequent pain or stress.

Is it okay to have a massage every week?

Yes, it is healthy to visit a massage therapist weekly; however, if you continuously face the need to see a massage therapist, it might be worrisome. Make sure to set up an appointment with the general physician.

Does Thai massage include foot massage?

Yes, it includes foot massage and every part of the body, including the torso, legs, arms, neck, and head.

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