The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Changing Thai Massage to Be Healthier Part I - Avoid Pressuring Lower Back Discs

In the previous post, What is Thai Massage? I explained that many moves in Thai massage are beneficial, with a few to avoid. One of these less than healthy moves involves the practitioner pushing your back and neck forward into a stretch.

The post Disc Pain - Not a Mystery, Easy to Fix explains why sitting and bending over eventually breaks down the discs of your lower back. In one of the pushing stretches, the practitioner sits behind you to push your back forward, leaning their weight to assist your forward movement, as in the drawing at left.

In another move they add putting their arm under your arm and around the back of your neck. In wrestling, this move is called a half-Nelson. This move is used to bend your neck forward. From there, they push your back and neck forward, leaning their weight to assist your forward movement

Don't let people push your back or neck to round forward, whether to stretch or to make a cracking noise. Avoid treatments that include manipulation to the neck, which has been found to sometimes tear the blood vessels leading to the brain. There have been deaths and even Western chiropractors have been cautioned not to crack the neck with these moves.

A second assisted stretch to avoid is similar to the move above. The practitioner may sit behind you or to the side, and put one or both of their arms under your arms then around the back of your neck, in a move that in the West are called a "half Nelson" and "full-Nelson." From there they may swing you slightly to the side, then again with a wider swing, then a third time with force. This sometimes makes a cracking noise in your back. Anatomically, the greatest force you can put on your discs and low back is bending forward with a twist. Politely decline anyone who would do this to you.

Coming Next:
Making Thai Massage Healthier Part II - Avoid Snapping Elbows or Knees Backward
Keeping Thai Massage Healthy Part III - Should You Do "The Blood Stop?"

What is Thai Massage?

Read success stories of these methods and send your own.
Subscribe to The Fitness Fixer, free. Click "updates via e-mail" (under trumpet) upper right. 
See Dr. Bookspan's Books, take a Class, get certified -

Drawings of Backman!™ © copyright Dr. Jolie Bookspan

  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.