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A Healthy Personal Touch

A stay in Thailand is hardly complete without being treated to a famous Thai Traditional Massage. Foreigners accustomed to thinking of massage as a luxury service will be pleased to see that in Thailand, it can be as matter of fact as any other service offering. One of the first things you may notice along most busy streets here in Chiangmai are the colorful signs detailing the anatomy of the foot and promising traditional full body massages as well.

They seem to be about as common as Internet cafes, exchange offices, open markets and food stalls. After having experienced Thailand's unique style of massage, you may be tempted to try it on your own with a partner. If you do this, there are some things you should know about the various techniques used in Thai Traditional Massage:

Press Press: This technique involves using the thumbs to press certain muscle points in any part of the body to help relieve muscle tension and increase blood flow. Caution : If you press too hard, and too long, it could damage veins and cause a bruise.
Roll Roll: Use the fingers and the heel of the hand to create a rolling and kneading motion back and forth and in a circle placing pressure on the entire muscle. The elbow can also be used. Caution : Too much of this technique can upset the nervous system and cause sudden pain.
Squeeze Squeeze: Use the entire hand and palm to squeeze muscles in any part of the body. This helps to relieve and loosen muscles. Caution : Squeezing too hard in order to show off your great strength risks bursting a vein.
Pulling/Drawing Pulling/Drawing: This technique is used to stretch the tendons and connective tissues of the joints in much the same way that Yoga does. Pull once, firmly but gently, on the limbs using both hands for support. Do not repeat. If you hear a slight popping sound at the joints, don't worry, it's a good sign. Caution : Pulling too hard can dislocate joints or tear tendons and connective tissues, causing injuries that sometimes require 2 weeks of recovery.
Twisting Twisting: Similar to pulling, but instead twist the limbs at a particular joint as if you are wringing out a wet cloth. Then, twist the body, pulling the right leg in the opposite direction of the right arm for example. Use both hands for support. Like Yoga, this technique also helps to stretch tendons as well as muscles. Caution : Like pulling, twisting too hard can cause dislocated joints or torn connective tissues.
Bending Bending: This technique is used with much pressure and force just above the joints on the thigh above the knee, for example to help stimulate circulation and loosen them up. Caution : Muscles get torn if the bend is too far, therefore it is NOT advisable to use this technique on the elderly or people with muscular disorders.
Pounding Pounding: Use fists to gently beat in a steady rhythm to and pound out the muscles. This technique is usually done on the back and neck to reduce tension. Caution : Pounding too hard will obviously cause bruising.
Treading Treading: This is where the feet come in. Use them to step gently on the back, legs and buttocks. Caution : Too much weight can damage the spine severely and/or cause damage to the internal organs. Tread lightly!

We at Welcome to don't pretend to be experts on Thai Traditional Massage, but we do ask that you respect our copyright if you decide to use this material during a college course on the subject. But seriously, we hope our informed overview has piqued your interest in seeking out a massage during your stay here, as well as made you aware of any dangers if you do decide to "try this at home".

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