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Chinese vs Thai Massage

Thai massage and Chinese traditional massage have a lot in common, but they also boast some difference. Thai Massage, for one, incorporates a subtle blend of Indian Ayurvedic medicine and yoga in combination with Chinese medicine techniques such as acupuncture and reflexology. Chinese massage (or what is famously referred to as Tui Na) also encompasses traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) philosophies and approaches, with more focus on kneading, stretching, and pushing of the muscles in the body.


Chinese vs Thai Massage

While Thai massage and Tui Na share common ideology from traditional Chinese medicine, the major difference between the two is that either massages are performed in entirely different postures. In the case of Thai massage, the client wears loose clothing and lies on the floor as the therapist moves and stretches her body into a variety of yoga postures. The difference, in principle, is the Ayurvedic sense of Thai massage.


Tui Na, on its part, concentrates on acupoints (points of energy or what is called chi). Traditionally, Chinese massage requires the client to be seated on a chair as masseuse attempts to stimulate the various acupuncture points in order to relieve stress and pain on those regions. As a primary difference from Thai massage, Tui Na incorporates a wide variety of kneading, stretching, and “pushing” the muscles. More often than not, Tui Na is administered in combination with ZhiYa, another Chinese medicine technique that involves lots of pinching and pressing acupoints to get rid of pain and stress.


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While Thai massage brings in yoga as a means of relaxation, Chinese massage ingrain techniques whose principle lies in the relative effect of stimulating one’s body to improve circulation, produce more “happy-making” hormones or elevate energy required for recovery. Chinese massage hand techniques are additionally grouped into simulating modalities (“yang”) and sedating modalities (“yin”). The allure of these techniques is the amicable balance between “yang” and “yin” which offer a complete body health.


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Another methodological difference between Thai and Chinese massages is the duration of the massage session. Typically, a full Thai massage session will take up to two solid hours, as a Chinese massage session can last a maximum of 90 minutes.



Chinese massage is performed to help patients with medical complications, particularly those with musculoskeletal problems (read: arthritis, etc), whereas Thai massage is often intended for relaxation to ease stress and tension. That being said, both massages are geared toward balancing and strengthening the body by encouraging flow of energy.