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The Thai massage was not what I expected it to be – now it's my new favorite recovery method

As a regular runner I am no stranger to the world of sports recreation . I walk a few miles a week in the morning and usually at weekends, so I keep straining on my living room rug and rolling foam. I also got a one-hour deep massage once a month at this great place in my neighborhood, which costs $ 45 for 45 minutes. After all, it's no secret that massage is a recreational method for athletes, including runners.

Some studies suggest that massaging after strenuous exercise can help alleviate muscle soreness or delayed muscle aches and improve muscle performance. Other studies show that a massage is useful for reducing perceived fatigue after exercise. When talking to professionals or college-level athletes about their recovery routines, they'll probably say regular massages are part of their overall plan. Personally, I feel like my muscles are looser and more relaxed, and I feel better overall when I get massaged regularly. (However, as with all recovery techniques, it's hard to tell what can definitely make a difference from person to person, and some of the benefits may simply be due to the placebo effect ̵

1; which still counts for something.)

After one recent trip In Thailand, I added a new kind of massage to my recovery routine: Thai massage.

I was fortunate to be invited to a two-week trip sponsored by the Thailand Tourism Board. During this time I received nine massages of hard work, I know). Each massage helped my jet lag, the aching body, to feel much better. I felt looser, freer and more seriously stretched, and my only regret was that I had not tried the Thai massage earlier.

I had been offering Thai massage all over the US in the US – this is particularly prevalent in big cities in New York – but I never thought to get one, let alone one get to recover. Well, I'm so glad I finally tried and wished I had it sooner.

Thai massage is an ancient therapy that has been practiced in Thailand for several centuries.

It is believed that it was developed together with Thai medicine from the legendary physician Shivago Komarpaj – often referred to by Thai healers as the paternal physician – about 2,500 years ago. Komparaj was a personal doctor for Buddha. This makes sense because the Thai massage is very closely related to Buddhism, explains Lapatrada Pittayakorn, spa manager at Nitra Spa & Wellness at 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok one of the hotels where I stayed on my trip ,

"The massage technique was an integral part of the Buddhist religion, and although Buddhism itself took four centuries to reach Thailand, the method of massage quickly became popular with the Thai people," says Pittayakorn. "The Thai massage is indeed so closely related to Buddhism that practitioners traditionally have to speak a prayer in Palo, the ancient sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, to the recognized creator of Thai massage before going to work every day

Aside from Buddhism, the Thai massage was also heavily influenced by Ayurvedic practices in India and traditional Chinese medicine. "Due to its strategic location between India and China, Thailand has experienced a continuous flow of people, ideas and traditional medicine from both countries and has been influenced by each of them in many ways. For example, anyone familiar with yoga can easily recognize the influence and similarity of their movements with those of Thai massage, "explains Pittayakorn.

During a Thai massage treatment often referred to as Thai yoga , you are actively stretched by the practitioners – sometimes even sitting on you to do that.

And I have to say that the whole thing that sits on top of you can be quite nervous at first sight, especially if you I definitely was not.

When I got my first Thai massage, I was still super jet lag and had not really looked up what the Thai massage was actually before entering the room. That meant I was expecting a form of deep-tissue massage that poured me in oil and then massaged me to sleep, possibly with some hot stones thrown for good reason.

But oh, how wrong I am Although the atmosphere in the room was very relaxing – gentle spa music in the background, a rushing waterfall in the corner, and the sweet, sweet scent of lemon grass and jasmine floating in the air – I was clearly massaged in a lazy, comatose state of bedtime. Instead, my therapist told me to lie down on my stomach, and before I knew what was going on, she was sitting on top of me pulling and pulling my arms in all directions. There is no oil involved in the Thai massage.

"Yes, during a Thai massage you will be pulled, stretched and weighed by your massage therapist," explains Pittayakorn. "They will use every part of their bodies, including their thumbs, elbows and knees – this is a completely different approach than what most westerners are used to."

I will say. During this first massage I was always surprised. This, my friends, was no time to sleep. In a moment, my therapist would be sitting on my butt, and next she would ask me to sit down so she could pull my arms and legs in surprising directions and stretch . A few times I even had to ask her to go softer, as she pulled on my limbs rather forcefully. "Thai massages are certainly not gentle, and it is important to know that they often feel uncomfortable. However, once you tell your therapist that you feel pain, he will immediately reduce the pressure, "says Pittayakorn. Luckily, my therapist did that.

Another difference between deep tissue massage and Thai massage is the clothing situation. In fact, most of the massages I received during my trip to Thailand, I wore loose-fitting clothes provided by the spa instead of going nude, as I do with a deep tissue massage. The outfits were like hospital scrubs-loose cotton tops and tunic pants. They also provided disposable underwear. That is, not all of the spas provided clothing as they vary from spa to spa. (They all did their underwear, so they wore the days when I did not get any clothes, just these.) The Thai massages I've been getting since my return to New York were completely dressed, probably because I was For very traditional Thai spas, such as the Fifth Avenue Thai Spa in Manhattan.

Although I did not fall asleep as usual during this first massage, I felt more relaxed and rested than ever before.

I admit that I was a bit angry at the beginning of my first massage because I did not do any research on the Thai massage or the culture behind it. Since I did not know what to expect, there was a big difference between my expectations and my reality. But when I came off the table and relaxed and recovered more than usual – thanks to the looseness of my muscles from the intense stretching – I went out as a true convert who was humbled by my initial ignorance and immediate gratification next treatment.

"The passive stretching in Thai massage is really wonderful to loosen up the limbs and create a sense of freedom in the body," explains Phoebe Boonkerd, a naturopath and massage practitioner in Thailand's wellness operation and development at Amatara Wellness Resort another place where I got a massage. Stretching may be a bit surprising for those accustomed to Swedish or deep tissue massages. "But the recipient feels extremely relaxed and alive, and he is also very helpful in fatigue, body stiffness and sore muscles." Boonkerd continues.

There are some debates in the fitness world about whether stretching is really useful for all or not – and how great the benefit is. But I can say that I personally experienced what Boonkerd describes. The Thai massage made my muscles feel more relaxed, and after a handful, I felt that I could move more freely and with better freedom of movement. And as a runner I really appreciated that.

I have been back from Thailand for a few months now and have already received some Thai massages in New York.

I intend to maintain this new model habit in the future. Sure, there are many ways to practice regeneration including foam rollers and other types of sports massages, but it's nice to know that I can officially record this new player in my rotation. 19659031]
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