The Truth About Thai Massages

As women, we tend to hold a lot of stress in our hips, and after a recent visit to a physical therapist, I learned that my chronic back pain was directly related to tightness in my hips, thighs, and obliques.  Last week was a particularly stressful week for me and my boyfriend decided to buy me a massage through Groupon.  Clearly, he didn’t know the rule about checking the photos of the venue providing the discount before buying, especially when it comes to spas, to make sure it isn’t a janky place that smells like a combination of feet and chicken fat.  So you can imagine my surprise when I showed up and realized that not only was this “spa” located in a corridor behind a bar, it was also a Thai massage parlor.

I was about to turn back, but my back pain was in rare form, and I thought to myself, “I love Thai noodles, Tae Bo, and Ty Beckford… so why wouldn’t I like a Thai massage?” I decided to pretend that I was on vacation in Thailand and this would be part of a cultural assimilation (like my own little Eat Pray Love moment).  I was greeted at the door by a very sweet male receptionist who gave me some bamboo sandals to change into.  Shortly after, my masseuse showed up… a short Asian male who spoke very little English.  This was another first for me (Read: I am generally shy with my body, so I ALWAYS ask for women masseuses).  My masseuse — let’s call him Nick– led me into our massage area (a low bamboo bed with a blanket and thin pillow on top surrounded by purple curtains) and left a pair of cotton pants and a button up shirt that you wear backwards like a straight-jacket. It was clear that I wasn’t getting the massage-table-and-aromatherapy-oil massage I’d grown accustomed to, but I changed into my cotton prison uniform and opted to make the best of it.

After laying down on my straw lawn chair, trying desperately not to suffocate with my face in the thin pillow, I felt pressure on my back near my waist and thought, “Nick’s hands are very smooth for a man”.  Then I realized it wasn’t his hand at all, it was his foot (gasp!).  Nick began folding my arms into several pretzel-ish positions and push his foot against my back, and it was at this moment that I became sublimely aware of just how different a Thai massage was. With every pressure he applied, my back felt a little better than it did before.  I knew stretching would help my back pain, but I had no idea this reflexology massage (sort of a combo of yoga and massage) would feel so good.  My hour and 15 minutes went by so quickly and I was given a small tray with a little water (served in a saki shotglass) and a candy.  My back felt better and I was pleasantly surprised how well I slept that night.

I would recommend trying this at least once in your life, especially if you have pain caused by tightness.  What do you think, would you try a Thai massage?


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