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Thai Massage, the Push and Pull of Pain Management

Why The benefits of yoga — increased flexibility, blood circulation and energy flow; removal of toxins; reduction of stress and pain — without having to attend a class. Cassandra Pickard lived with chronic back and shoulder pain for 10 years before trying Thai massage. One treatment changed her life. “I felt like dancing,” she says. Convinced of its healing effects, she became a licensed holistic practitioner and founded Embrace Metta, which means to “embrace loving kindness,” out of her home at Yonge and York Mills.
What to expect Traditional Thai massage is a totally different experience from Western deep-tissue massage. You’re fully clothed (Pickard prefers clients wear cotton), and no oils are used. After discussing health history and concerns, such as computer-posture angst and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, wrists and hands — sound familiar? — you lie on your back, limp on a mat on the floor, and let Pickard do all the work. “Some people fall asleep,” she says. “They’re snoring away while I try to turn them over without waking them.”

Pickard, once a competitive gymnast, is strong and focused with a warmth that puts me completely at ease. That’s important so that you can really let go and not worry about how awkward or chubby you may look in some of the poses.

The stretching she performs is best described as rhythmic, almost dance-like, with each movement flowing into the next. Nothing is rushed during the hour and a half. The subtle rocking motion is comforting and I feel like a child being rocked and nurtured. Pickard kneads the muscles, applying acupressure by “thumbing” points along what eastern medicine calls “energy lines” that run up, down and across the body. The idea is that pressure on these points releases energy blockages so your body can heal itself. All good, except when she finds some spots along my thighs that feel knotted and tender. She applies pressure with her foot, lets go, then repeats and the soreness is not as intense, but still sore.

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