What is a Thai Table massage?
Thai Table massage is an adaption of Traditional Thai massage techniques for recipients lying on a table.
Thai Table massage is a relatively new phenomenon. Historically, Thai massage practitioners performed Traditional Thai Massage on a floor mat. Thailand had no massage tables until recent decades. But even today, most traditional Thai massage practitioners in Thailand perform the massage on the mat.
Traditional Thai and Table Thai massage both utilize stretching techniques applied slowly in patterns of gentle rocking and rhythmic muscle compressions, joint mobilization, and acupressure points. Unlike Traditional Thai massage, Table Thai uses a massage table instead of a mat on the floor. But like Traditional modalities, both client and practitioner are dressed in comfortable clothing, allowing ease of movement and flexibility.
Thai Table massage has become popular because it fits nicely with Western massage modalities. Many Thai massage techniques work on the table, and others work with modifications. So this massage is ideal for Registered Massage Therapists and Practitioners who already work on the table.
Table vs Mat
Functionally, practitioners can perform many Thai massage techniques on a table as on a floor mat. But practitioners must recognize that not all Thai massage techniques will be appropriate for a massage table.
The primary benefit of working on the floor is that practitioners can use their body weight, momentum, and gravity rather than muscular strength. This advantage allows a small practitioner to apply substantial leverage and locks using their body weight. More importantly, a hard mattress on the floor gives practitioners stability for stretching movements while moving smoothly like a dance.
Many Northern-style Thai Massage stretching techniques are challenging enough to practice on the floor and require the utmost equilibrium of the practitioner. Although practitioners can jump on a massage table to attempt these stretches, most tables are too narrow and have soft surfaces to be secure enough for advanced stretches. These techniques might cause a high risk of injuries to both the receiver and the giver.
The final advantage of working on the floor is that it feels very different for the client. Traditional Thai massage feels “grounded.” There is something natural about being on the floor rather than a table. Being on a mat provides an intimate and pleasant connection to the ground.
One downside of working on the floor is that a mat requires more room than a table. Many treatment rooms at clinics or spas need to be larger to accommodate a massage mat and a table. Or if the room is large enough, the business may need more time to change the room from one style to another.
A second potential problem with working on a mat is that Traditional Thai massage requires the practitioner to have mobility and flexibility. Standing at a table requires less mobility from the practitioner. Working on the floor can be harder on the practitioners’ knees and back if they are not used to kneeling or sitting on their heels.
Ultimately, the choice to work on the table or the floor is up to the practitioner. The core traditional Thai massage work, including Jap Sen, Tok Sen and Herbal Compress work well on the table. But practitioners lose the efficiency of some Thai massage techniques, especially those that require strength or stability when they move to a table. And some Thai massage techniques are outright dangerous if performed on a table.
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