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The Beauty Of
Traditional Thai Massage

10 may 2023
4 mins read

A practical guide to the history, health benefits and what to expect from a traditional Thai massage. It is performed using rhythmic pressing and stretching of the body in a way similar to yoga. No oils are used and the client wears loose-fitting clothing lying on a mat on the floor. The practice has been used for thousands of years in Thailand and today is found in spas, health centres and clinics all around the world including at Thai Nee Spa in Kenilworth.

© Thai Nee Spa, 25 The Square, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1EF

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A Brief History Of Thai Massage

Traditional Thai Massage was developed over 2,500 years ago by Jivaka Komarabhacca1, physician to the Buddha and the Indian King Bimbisāra. Jivaka is a renowned healer in Buddhist tradition and is widely thought of as the father and creator of Buddhist medicine.

Traditional Thai massage was seen as a spiritual as well as a medical practice and was taught orally from master to student over centuries in temples, or Wats, in Thailand. If you wanted to learn you had to go to a monastery.

The Thai royal court also kept an unbroken line of medical texts, books and copies of Buddhist sutras in Ayutthaya Thailand. Tragically, most of these were lost when Burmese invaders destroyed the old capital of Ayutthaya in 1767.

What remained of the ancient records were commissioned to be etched into stone by King Rama III in 1832. Over sixty epigraphs showing treatment points, herbal remedies and energy lines can be seen at the famous Wat Po2 temple complex in Bangkok.

The diagrams show therapy points along the Sen energy lines with medical notes. The Sib Sen form the basis of the theory of Traditional Thai Massage.

The theory is rooted in the belief that all forms of life are sustained by a vital force carried along pathways (called sen) that run through our bodies. This vital force is drawn from the air we breathe and the water and food we consume. Disease and dysfunction are said to be the result of blocks in these pathways. The intent is to unblock the flow of energy and support wellbeing in general.

As Buddhism spread from India, so the massage practice spread along with it. It soon found its way to Southeast Asia where it was adopted and became an integral part of Thai traditional medicine.

Sib Sen Lines

The Health Benefits

When tension builds up in muscles, it can create knots (called adhesions) which can cause pain and tightness. The stiffness may not be felt until you try to stretch or exercise and quite often not until you have a massage! This kind of hidden tension in muscles can lead to painful breathing, recurring dull headaches or lower back pain that does not respond to medication. In short, you do not feel comfortable in your body.

With the right kind of pressure applied to these tensions, full muscle flexibility and mobility can be restored. The discomfort is most certainly reversible, though usually a series of treatments are needed for chronic pain or pain resulting from an injury.

Traditional Thai massage evolved from the need to improve blood circulation for Buddhist monks who often stayed in the same posture for long periods. And so, the same idea can be used to help people whose work requires them to stay in one position for a long time, such as sitting at a desk or standing at a workstation.

In addition to its many physical benefits, which include better circulation, less muscle tension and improved flexibility, Thai massage can help reduce stress and anxiety, release stored emotions, and promote a sense of inner peace and harmony. After an hour of massage, it is not uncommon to leave in a state of being that can only be described as blissful.

The sense of well-being that traditional Thai massage brings makes it very helpful for those with depression. Depression often leaves sufferers unable to motivate themselves to exercise and the assisted nature of a Thai massage makes it a great option.

Herbal Compress Massage

What Is A Traditional Thai Massage Like?

Traditional Thai massage today still retains elements of a strong spiritual connection. Practitioners start their work day with a prayer to Father Doctor,  recited in the original Pali language, and are reminded of the Four Divine States of Mind of Buddhist teaching: compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and balance.

A treatment typically takes place on a mat on the floor, although massage tables or chairs may also be used. The session can be up to 90 minutes, depending on the therapist, the client’s needs, and the therapy objective.

The massage is performed fully clothed and oils are not used. Instead, the therapist uses the hands, elbows, fingers, feet, and knees to support and stretch the body. Both the receiver and therapist wear loose comfortable clothes to allow them to move freely during the massage.

While traditional Thai massage covers the whole body from head to toe, there are other therapies to be aware of, these include Thai foot massage, Thai facial massage, Thai head massage, and many more. For these treatments, herbal compressions, oils and creams can be used and applied directly to the skin.

Despite its ancient origins, Thai massage is still a relatively new practice in Western society. However, recent studies have shown there are many health benefits.

Thai Herbal Massage
Thai Herbs And Spices


Over the years, Thai massage has evolved and become more widely practised. King Rama V of Thailand played a significant role in incorporating the practice into modern Thai medicine in the early 20th century. Today it is a popular complementary therapy used in spas, wellness centres and clinics around the globe, including Thai Nee Spa in Kenilworth.

The beauty of Thai massage is in its capacity to work on all aspects of the human body: physical, psychological and spiritual. It is both a preventive and a curative form of traditional medicine and is believed to help free us from physical, psychological, and emotional blocks, tensions, and diseases.

In addition to its many physical benefits, which include better circulation, less muscle tension and improved flexibility, Thai massage is known for its profound spiritual and emotional benefits.  Regular use can help reduce stress and anxiety, release stored emotions, and promote a sense of inner peace and harmony through deep relaxation and connecting body and mind.


  1. Jivaka Komarabhacca from Wikipedia at
  2. Wat Pho Bangkok from Lonely Planet at
Paul Lloyd


paul lewis lloyd

Copywriter, WordPress and SEO for Thai Nee Spa.
Paul graduated in Biochemistry from Dundee University and studied for an HND in Graphic Design and NVQ Level 3 in Aromatherapy Massage. He is a long-term practitioner of hatha yoga and meditation.


I am Darunee (also Thai Nee) owner of the spa and VTCT qualified Thai massage therapist. It is my pleasure to welcome you to Thai Nee Spa.

We are a Thai Massage and Relaxation Therapy Centre based in the historic town of Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

Darunee Hunt

Further Reading

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25 april 2023
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Much more than a way to help you relax, massage therapy is an important tool for promoting better mental and physical health and can improve the quality of your life.

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