I have a rule that whenever I go somewhere new I try and find something strange (but healthy) I can do – this has seen me eating insects with alarming regularity, being buried up to the neck in sand and lying in a bath of boiling hot rocks – as such the words ‘Hammer Massage’ outside of a spa in Chang Mai, Northern Thailand, saw me booking in before I’d even asked what it involved.
The real name of Hammer Massage is Tok Sen and it’s a treatment used traditionally in Chang Mai farming communities to ease the aches of the day.
Few massage schools teach it – in fact, I had an audience of excited massage therapists for the start of my treatment who’d never even seen it carried out, let alone knew how to do it.
When I first saw the hammer I got nervous – it looks like a mallet. But thankfully that’s not what touches your body – instead, the hammer hits a small rounded piece of wood. This is placed along the energy lines of each area of the body – head, shoulders, arms, legs, back etc. and is hit in a quick tapping motion as the therapist moves the wood up or down the energy lines.
They then stretch out the area – strangely that hurts while the tapping doesn’t. Actually, once I got used to the noise, it was incredibly relaxing – and I NEVER relax during a massage.
The language barrier meant I couldn’t find out much about how it works there and then, so once I returned home and investigated.
The theory is that optimum performance of the body only occurs if the energy that Eastern medicine believes flows through all of these travels unblocked – Tok Sen is designed to clear blockages.
On top of that, the vibration that occurs when the hammer hits the wood relaxes the muscles in the area of impact and stimulates blood flow to the area decreasing tension and tiredness.
So would I have it again? Absolutely – although so far I’ve only found one place in Australia that offers the service and that’s Seven Diamonds Health and Beauty on the Gold Coast.
Not that near, but nearer than Chang Mai at least.