22/03/2016 05:53 GMT | Updated 22/03/2017 05:12 GMT

A Royal Massage Is Okay, but Here Is Why You Need a Rural One...

Thai Massage has a long history steeped in rich culture and tradition. For example, did you know there are two distinct types of Nuad Thai (traditional Thai Massage)?

Royal and Rural.

At first glance, you'd be tempted to go for the Royal, simply due to the decadent sounding name. However, as with much in Royalty, there are restrictions and rules. A Royal massage, as the name suggests, was designed for Royalty to be able to enjoy a massage that adheres to Thai traditions and culture.

  • The restrictions that apply to the Royal massage, however, show this type to be a little less hands-on and enjoyable for a client and therapist, what are the restrictions though?
  • Thumbing and palming only, any other parts of the therapists body touching a royal body was seen as disrespectful.
  • Clients feet would be touched last if at all, in Thai culture they are viewed as the dirtiest part of the body.
  • The therapist must remain arm's length from the royal client at all times.
  • Touching of the head was not allowed unless absolutely required, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body and, to touch the head of someone above you in the caste-system was not something you'd ever do!

To even qualify to massage Royalty a masseuse had to be able to sit cross-legged on the ground and lift themselves from the ground with only their fingertips. Thankfully they no longer need to go through that process.

So why should you choose a Rural Massage over a Royal one? The Rural type is the real deal, incorporating thumbing, palming, elbows, forearms, knees and even the feet of your therapist. You can enjoy that gorgeously relaxing stretching, twisting and targeted acupressure. It's the equivalent of doing a yoga session, without you having to do the moves.

But it's what happens to your body and mind that really make a massage great. The benefits are widely talked about, from stress reduction and pain relief to muscle tension and psychological improvements.

What is massage good for?

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Let's not forget the real reason you're going - complete and utter relaxation.

What are the defining characteristics of a great massage? You might think it's a simple case of touch - the how, where and why; but it's so much more. A great therapist is in tune with their body and your body, they watch for the little signs, the signals your body sends in response to their touch and the pressure they are using. We can narrow these things down to a few neat points.

  • Confidence - By this we mean the therapist is confident in how they touch your body, their touch is effortless and this sends you the signal that they know what they are doing, they are there for you and you can relax.
  • Continuity - You're looking for a therapist who rarely, if ever, removes their touch from you. The continued application of pressure and massage enable the client to truly relax.
  • Complete Strokes - From the top of the back to the very bottom of the spine, from the shoulder all the way beyond the wrist joint. Long strokes that follow the natural lines of the body, taking care of the whole limb. There are some techniques which won't follow this rule but in general, a shorter stroke may feel unfinished.
  • Judging the Speed and Depth - some therapist might be a little over excited and head straight to the deep tissue, this can be counterproductive, a great therapist can judge your body's reaction and tailor the massage to the response your body gives them. Once your soft tissue has relaxed, a deep tissue massage can begin.
  • Sensitivity - A great therapist will be sensitive to your vocal responses, your bodily responses, and even your general mood. They can pinpoint what you need from them and provide it.

A good massage is okay, but a great one, with the right therapist, can change your life.