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Origins of Thai Foot Massage

Massage is an ancient tradition found in many cultures including Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman.

 In the book The Touch of Love, Thai Massage (written by Sombat Tapanya)  ‘Massage is a self-healing method’ quoting from an ancient Indian Ayuraveda Book.

The art of healing through massage is believed to be about 5,000 years old.  Records exist from Ancient Egypt in the form of wall paintings, or pictographs dating back to around 2300 B.C.  

 From this information passed through Egyptian and Greek merchants to .  Other cultures influenced by this African tradition came through the many trading routes.  These were Arabian, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese and large parts of modern Europe through the Roman Empire.

 hippocratesIn Ancient Greece doctors developed the first rational system of medicine.  One, Hippocrates (460-380 B. C.), the ‘father of medicine’, stated that “the physician must be experienced in many things,’ …’ also in rubbing.  Rubbing can bind and loosen; can make flesh and cause parts to waste.’ Hippocrates believed that massage could help build muscle tissue.  The term ‘rubbing’ refers to massage

 emperor wendiWritten documents dating from the reign of the Chinese Emperor Wendi (179-157 B.C.) of the Han Dynasty mention massage in a medical textbook.

It is believed that Marco Polo, the Venetian explorer, and other travellers, such as Christian missionaries helped to spread massage techniques from to the Western hemisphere.

Thai foot massage is really foot reflexology massage.

Foot reflexology massage had a particularly active following during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.).  From foot reflexology massage spread to after being studied by a Japanese monk, who took this knowledge to his country. 

Later, this particular art of healing fell into disuse, probably due to some practitioners failing to pass on their experiences and expertise, and yet others who failed to keep any written records.  Curiosity in this massage technique was rekindled in the late  Manchu Dynasty (1643-1912 A.D.) with the arrival of Western merchants and travellers. 

thai buddhaThe art of massage probably reached through the travels of Buddhist monks from, where Buddhism has been practised for over 2500 years; some say it was Schivago Komarpaj, a contemporary of Lord Buddha.  As a healing art, massage was closely linked to medicine and in , the monks in temple schools called Wats offered the local population medical help in this way.  In 1292, Emperor Rama Kamuhen recognised Theravada Buddhism and made it the national religion.  The result was that Thai medicine flourished within this Buddhist tradition. 

Unfortunately, very little documentary evidence exists to explain the development of Thai medicine, as much of it was passed on from monk to monk through observation and the oral tradition.  What documents there might have been were originally kept in the King’s palace in Ayutthaya , some 85 kms (53 miles) north of modern-day Krungtep  ( Bangkok).  In 1767, there was an invasion by Burmese soldiers and all was destroyed, including original works of medicine, and sacred scripts; there were no copies made.

 In 1837, Rama III of the Chakri Dynasty ordered a record to be made of medical knowledge that existed at the time.  It was to be recorded as a series of wall inscriptions within the grounds of Wat Pho, Krungtep.  The drawings are interesting in that they show the human form with ‘energy lines’ running through both the front and back of the body.  There are around sixty such inscriptions, and can be viewed by the visitor to Wat Pho today.

Thai Massage is known in as ‘nuat phaen boran’.  Regional variations exist; in northern stretching is emphasised through yoga-like positions, whereas in southern pressure is emphasised. 

An American doctor, Dr. William Fitzgerald, in 1913 wrote an article about foot reflexology massage.  He developed a systematised chart of longitudinal zones within the body.  These ten zones illustrated reflex areas with their corresponding connections, as well as physical conditions influenced by the connection.  All ten zones ended in the fingers and toes.  He discovered that pressure on one part of avladimir bechterevzonecould affect other parts of the body within that zone. 

It was a Russian physiologist, V. M. Bechterev, who gave the world the term ‘reflexology’. 

There are many different types of massage available today.  Simply, massage is the manipulation of soft tissue.  Benefits reported include faster recovery times from injury, stress relief and muscle relaxation.  Massage involves use of the hands and sometimes a small wooden stick or wooden roller.  Techniques of massage include kneading, stroking, rubbing or pressing on the body, particularly with Western massage.  

Other techniques may include the use of oil, salt glows, and hot and cold packs. Some massages use essential oils, from flowers, leaves and roots of various plants.  Oriental, such as the Thai massage technique often use direct hand pressure either through loose clothing or directly on the skin. 

Other massages, such as Ayurvedic or Indian use aromatic oils. Reflexology is a deeper form of massage on the hand or foot, designed to relax the whole body through the reflex response.  The thumbs are used to break up the crystalline deposits which have formed at the nerve endings, particularly on the bottom of the feet.

Thai foot massage can help in the elimination of waste products from the body, insomnia, improve the flow of blood and the lymphatic system, and leave the client invigorated.  When the foot is touched, or any part of the skin, receptors send messages to the brain, which causes the release of chemicals.  These chemicals produce a sense of relaxation and wellbeing and can also relieve pain.

All massage should be comfortable and relaxing.  If it is painful, or uncomfortable in some way, it is essential that you tell the practitioner of your concerns, or ask them to stop.  Thai Foot Massage takes great care to be receptive to our client’s needs, as every client requires a different pressure.  With every new client, we ask a short series of health-related questions, to ensure your experience is pleasurable.


thai foot massage magnolia flower

Thai Foot Massage

Please note:

Traditional therapeutic practice of Thai massage, including foot and hand massage should NOT be confused with the sexual service of the same name.  Sometimes the traditional therapeutic Thai massage, or ancient massage, is referred to as ‘old lady massage’, while the sexual practice is called ‘young lady massage.’

Copyright © 2006-20 Thai Relax Massage - you are free to use but please acknowledge source, thank you.



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