FAQ – should Thai massage be painful?

It is a myth that Thai massage should hurt.

Less can in fact be more, it isn’t a case of no pain no gain, or the more pain the better the release of tension. A massage that is too strong (for you) can cause tension. If a massage is so strong that you are tensing up then this isn’t releasing tension, it’s probably creating more.

The body can take more pressure when it is applied very slowly and with sensitivity, if pressure comes fast the skin has receptors that will literally shut down to that action, it perceives a threat. Consider how it is possible that a person is able to lie on a bed of nails – they get on to it very slowly!

A good Thai massage is tailored to you and the pressure may be strong, deep and effective  …but never painful. Thai massage can be strong – it is a therapeutic treatment – but strong and painful are very different things. It is about the individual and what’s strong for one person is not strong for another. The breath is a powerful tool to help with discomfort during a treatment and you will be guided and supported in this.

Sometimes a gentle Thai massage is much more appropriate, the pressure is not applied simply for physical reasons, the treatment also works on the emotional body. Sometimes tension has an emotional background – a means of protecting ourselves and these tensions need sensitivity and time. If you feel you want pain to ‘get rid’ of the symptom, it is important to remember that these are symptoms may have built up gradually and it’s important to respect this.

An initial consultation at the beginning helps a therapist tailor it specifically to you, incorporating or excluding any acupressure points for your needs. You may also have areas on you that can take deeper pressure and other places that are incredibly sensitive, a good Thai massage therapist will sense these areas and adjust the pressure accordingly, tuning into your body. A good therapist will ask for and encourage feedback. Communication between therapist and client is the key.