One of the most popular types of massage in Thailand is a reflexology foot massage. While the body massage and Thai yoga massage are also very popular, a reflexology massage helps to cure many common aliments simply by stimulating pressure points in the foot. What's more, it's also very relaxing, healthy, rejuvenating and less 'invasive' than oil massages. People can also give themselves a really effective foot massage at home without the need to pay for one at a salon or shop.
One of the accessories that Thai masseuses and masseurs use to give a foot massage is a wooden stick. This is relatively inexpensive massage tool, but has many benefits - not just to the person giving the massage but also to those receiving it.
- What a Thai massage stick is
- Why are Thai massage sticks used
- How to use the wooden stick yourself
- Where you can buy a wooden massage tool
What Is A Thai Massage Stick
A Thai massage stick is a small wooden tool or accessory for giving reflexology foot and hand massages. The tool originates from Thailand where massage has been a strong part of the culture for thousands of years.
The actual massage stick is small and usually hand-carved from Thai rosewood, a strong type of wood. The average size is between five and seven inches long. They are circular and slightly longer at one end and shorter at the other. Often, the stick has two small engraved lines around the circumference for decoration and extra grip. The sticks are also fairly light, but a well-made one will last for many years - and possibly for a whole lifetime!
Why Are Thai Massage Sticks Used
Thai massage sticks have become an essential part of any therapist's tool kit. Thy are used for two reasons - to help the person giving the massage and also for the person receiving it.
1. For the masseuse
The essence of Thai massage is to use lots of pressure on parts of the body. In a regular Thai massage this is done with the elbow, the knees and the palm. However, with a foot or hand massage the area is much smaller, so the masseuse has to use their thumbs.
The thumbs are not as large or strong as the elbows, and so after a while it's very easy for the thumbs to ache. It's also possible to develop problems in the hands and joints after a while. This is not good!
So people who give massages regularly for their job - and might treat up to 10 people a day - will need to avoid this.
Introducing... the Thai massage stick.
Instead of using their thumbs and fingers, the masseuse simply presses the small end of the stick into areas of the foot or hand that need massaging. These could be reflexology pressure points or parts of the muscles where tension has gathered and are stiff.
2. For the person receiving the massage
There are hundreds of different reflexology pressure points in the foot and hands that are thought to correspond with different organs and parts of the body. Getting to this exact point is not always easy.
However, by using a wooden Thai massage tool the task becomes easier. The small point at the tip of the massage stick is able to locate and pick out these points more accurately than the comparatively large soft pad surface of the thumb. What's more, a greater amount of pressure can be exerted onto the small surface area of the massage stick and then into the foot or hand, resulting in knots of tension being broken up more effectively.
How To Use The Wooden Thai Massage Stick
Here is a short guide to using the wooden Thai massage stick to give a reflexology foot massage. Please practice on yourself or a friend or family member. To get an in-depth massage guide, please see the box to the right.
1. Begin by softly massaging the foot with oil
2. Find the areas of the foot that are tight. This is where tension has built up. Then use greater pressure with the thumb to stretch the muscles and ligaments in these areas of the foot.
3. Feel with the thumb to knots within the foot. These often feel like small hard balls.
4. Press firmly into the knots with the thumb, then with the small part of the stick. Hold the firm pressure for five seconds, then slowly release. Repeat this several times until the knot has gone. If the knot is too tough, leave it for another day.
5. Use the larger end of the massage stick to scrape in one firm motion from the toes down to the sole of the foot. This loosens the ligaments and muscles.
6. Press the small part of the stick into the reflexology points of the foot that correspond to the main organs - the brain, heart, lungs, stomach, liver and kidney. These can be found on a reflexology foot chart.
7. Finish by giving a soft and gentle foot massage with oil to relax and remove any tension now in the foot.
Where To Buy A Thai Massage Stick
If you're looking to buy a Thai massage stick, the best place to go is Thailand. They're readily available there, and most markets will have a stall that sells them.
However, not everybody goes to Thailand regularly. And it's hardly worth the $800 aeroplane ticket just to buy a small wooden stick!
You could always ask a friend to bring you one back if they are on holiday in Thailand, though they may not want to spend a few hours finding somewhere that sells them. Even if you know somebody who lives in Thailand, the actual cost of shipping and customs import duty from Southeast Asia to the U.S. or to Europe is pretty expensive.
The next best place to go is eBay! There's a large variety of sticks available. And there are usually sellers in the UK, the U.S. or in Europe. The best one I found was from a small company in the UK who import Thai massage tools then distribute them to a Western market. They are in the link above.
Thai Foot Massage
Thai massage is simply one of the best forms of relaxation in the world, and for many, a reflexology foot massage is just as good as a body massage.
If you haven't had a foot massage before, there's likely to be a massage salon close to you wherever you live that you can visit to experience the treatment. You can, of course, always visit Thailand and have a foot massage there.
One of the best things about Thai foot massage, is that they are easy to give yourself, especially if you have a wooden stick tool and you know how to use it!
Esmie on March 16, 2020:
How do you use the Thai massage stick for stiff fingers
Rickrideshorses (author) from England on April 14, 2015:
Yes, buying from Thailand will take a long time to arrive and there's a big chance it will get lost in the post. One of the best sites is http://thaimassagetools.com/
Miguel on April 11, 2015:
Just bought one sent directly from Thailand at Amazon. It took some time to get here but it is worth the wait! It comes with a 6 piece Thai Massage wooden tool set.