A couple of days ago I came across a unique style of massage therapy in this incredible video. This video was most probably taken in some part of Western India shows an old man in a dhoti (Indian wrap around for men) sitting beside a client (a man) lying in prone position. The old man is using a metal hammer and mallet to vigorously whack the hell out of what seems like this man's spine and then around his hips. When done he asks his client to stand up and touch his toes which the client does and all is well. You can watch it here too.

The reaction on our FB page from students and others was of often of shock. Understandably so but did you know that there is a similar style in Thailand called Toksen. The only difference is that it uses a wooden hammer and a mallet and is often gentler (depends on the practitioner). Here is a compilation of Toksen therapist from across Thailand.

So whats the secret and is there any merit in what this person is doing.

So first things first -- the man in the video is kind of performing a small sleight of hand. Actually, he is not hammering the mallet into the spine. He is actually placing the mallet along the spine i.e. along the left and right channel and creating a strong vibration on the soft tissue rather than making any contact with the bone. If he had made contact with the bone that would have been very dangerous especially at the force that he is applying.

Secondly, the edge of his hand actually is protecting the mallet from going deeper into the client's body and only allows the vibration of the strike to pass through into the tissue but not its impact.

Why does Vibration work?

Vibratory stimulus helps to break adhesions in the connective tissue and helps change its tonus. These adhesions are the result of postural or physiological changes in the body. By breaking down /softening these adhesions the blood vessels and nerve that pass through this connective tissue gets more space and results in improved flow and function. This also helps improve the function of the tissue that is being supplied by these blood vessels/nerves.

So the final answer is this may work but at the force that is being used, I would only go with a very experienced practitioner. The old man in the original video looks definitely the part.

Contra-indications in Thai Massage

Thai Massage courses must cover these contra-indications in detail. Very often Thai Massage schools gloss over these issues leaving students stranded. Here are the main Contra-indications of Thai Massage.


  • Cancer: Thai massage’s effect of improving circulation can cause the spread of cancerous cells further to other parts of the body. Please refuse such clients unless you intend to do very light work. Fascia forms a protective layer preventing cancerous cells to move. Deep work can cause metastasis. Oncological massage is a specialized field of therapy and unless you know what you are doing it is best to get consent from the GP.
  • Fever: Increasing circulation can spread the infections further into the blood stream. Please refuse such a session.
  • Injury or Sprains: Please do not work on sprains, inflamed areas or open cuts. Wait till the inflammation and heat has reduced before working.
  • Surgeries: Depending on the age of your client and how well they heal you can only work after three years, on areas where major surgeries have been conducted. Skin and tissue take time to heal, and the progress depends on the age of your client and their physical conditions.
  • After food: Thai Yoga Massage can be delivered on a client’s about 2 hours after a meal. One reason for that is that as inversions and pressure on the abdominal area can interfere with digestion.
  • A client under the influence of alcohol will not be in a frame of mind to receive any healing and lack the ability to focus on their bodies.
  • Pregnancy: Some positions are quite uncomfortable or impossible for pregnant women like seated, prone and supine. Besides working on the inner Line 2 can cause uterine contractions resulting in a miscarriage.
  • High BP(Blood Pressure) : Thai massage results in increasing BP slightly. Therefore, anyone with a BP exceeding 140Mg must be avoided, unless their BP is normal with or without medication. Also, avoid pressing and stopping any artery points.
  • Hernia: Hernias In the abdominal and inguinal area can recur when working or stretching the area.
  • Gout / Rheumatism: Avoid pulling, cracking in places and joints where there is pain.
  • Diabetes: Diabetics tend to have weaker blood vessels walls. The increase in Blood Pressure due to Thai Massage can result in ruptures in blood vessels. Also, be careful when working on the site where your client takes insulin injection these create problems.
  • Osteoporosis/Arthritis/ Steroids: For older people or those lacking bone strength firm pressure can result in fractures. Go gentle on such parts even during stretches.
  • Varicose Veins: In the case of varicose veins blood vessels have hardened and twisted, working with intense pressure on those areas can cause the walls to rupture.
  • Heart Disease/  Cerebral strokes/ High Cholesterol: Do not perform any artery blocks (opening the wind gate) as this can result in dislodging plaque deposits or clots and moving them to arteries that supply blood to the heart or brain.
  • Cerebral complications, hemorrhages/ strokes: : Do not perform any arterial blocks (opening the wind gate as this can result in dislodging plaque deposits and moving them to arteries that supply blood to the brain.
  • Always wash before and after a massage so that energetic transmission from therapist to the client and vice-a-versa are prevented.
  • Do not touch open wounds or areas of possible skin infections.
  • Use a consultation form to check for all these conditions and design your session accordingly.

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