Health & Lifestyle

What’s the difference between a Thai massage and a deep tissue massage?


Have you been thinking about getting a Thai massage, but you aren’t quite sure what it entailed, what the benefits are, or the key differences when compared to a regular deep tissue massage? If so, then this article is for you. We’re going to answer the question: “What is the difference between a Thai massage and a deep tissue massage,” for your convenience. 

The differences between Thai and Deep Tissue Massage 

There are some significant differences between a traditional Thai and deep tissue massage. Let’s have a closer look at the differentiating factors: 


One of the most noticeable differences between a Thai and deep tissue massage is the equipment used. Most traditional massage therapies involve you lying down on a massage table. However, a Thai massage is most typically carried out on a floor mat. 

Oils / Creams 

Typical massage therapies tend to use oils and creams for massage, however, traditional Thai massage does not rely on topical creams or oils for their treatment. That said, under certain circumstances, a mixture of oil and Tiger Balm may be used for problematic areas. 


And of course, the biggest differences between Thai massage and deep tissue massage are the techniques used. Traditional Thai massage is an age-old practice that has been around for thousands of years. 

Deep tissue massage often involves various methods such as pressure, rotational movements, and deeper penetration on problem areas such as the neck, back, or shoulders. 

A Thai massage on the other hand is focused more on various movements, yoga-like stretches, and in many cases, your masseuse will stand on your back and use their feet to apply additional pressure in target areas. Don’t worry! It’s not as painful or as bizarre as it sounds! 

This is another reason why traditional Thai massage is not carried out on a table, as the masseuse standing on top of your body, on top of a massage table, will likely cause it to collapse or topple. However, when on a mat on the floor, and with some safety handrails hanging from the ceiling or off the walls, your traditional Thai masseuse can optimize their weight displacement so as not to cause unnecessary pain or damage. 

Benefits of Thai and Deep Tissue massage 

So, now that we know what some of the differences are between Thai massage and deep tissue massage, what are their benefits? 

Thai massage benefits 

Here are some of the amazing health benefits of Thai massage therapy:

  • Relieves headaches 
  • Reduces back pain
  • Relieves joint stiffness and pain
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Eases anxiety 
  • Revives energy 
  • Stress relief

Thai massage is built on the idea that energy moves throughout your body via predictable lines and pathways known as sens. In order to increase the flow of energy through your sense, your Thai massage therapist will move your body into a wide variety of different yoga-like poses, whilst pulling on and rocking your body in various ways. 

Using the combination of stretching, movement, and pressure is what typically distinguishes Thai massage from other massage therapies that require you to simply lay still. This makes Thai massage if you’d like more of an active role in your massage and learn some interesting stretches and poses whilst you are at it.  

Deep tissue massage benefits

Here are some of the wonderful health benefits of deep tissue massage therapy:

  • Reduces pain
  • Stress relief
  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Breaks up scar tissue 
  • Makes movement easier
  • Reduces symptoms of arthritis 

Deep tissue massages often use firm pressure and slow strokes in order to massage the deeper layers of muscle and the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles. 

This can be used to break up any scar tissue and break down muscle knots. These knots can tend to inhibit circulation and cause serious inflammation and pain. 

When your massage begins, your therapist will start with lighter pressure to warm your muscles up, and then begin moving deeper and deeper, applying more pressure. 

One of the most common techniques used in deep tissue massage is stripping. This involves a deep pressure that is applied along the length of your muscle fibres. Another is friction, where pressure is applied along the grain of your muscles in order to break up knots and align your tissue fibres properly.

Which is better? Thai massage or deep tissue massage? 

It’s a difficult question to ask, as both Thai and deep tissue massage have many amazing health benefits. It really depends on which therapy is better suited to your condition. For example, if you have been struggling with muscle pain, tension, and knots, then a deep tissue massage is ideal. However, for your general health, improved movement and joint relief, including a number of other benefits, Thai massage is the way forward. 

When you have a proper Thai massage from an experienced therapist, you will float out of the massage parlour feeling light as air! 


We hope that you have found this article helpful and that you now have a clearer understanding of the differences between traditional Thai massage and deep tissue massage therapies. If you are looking for a quality Thai massage, you’ll find no shortage of massage parlours. Simply take your time, do your research, and roll with the spa that you feel most comfortable with.

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