A randomised crossover trial comparing Thai and Swedish massage for fatigue and depleted energy

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2018 Jul;22(3):817-828. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.09.014. Epub 2017 Sep 23.


Background: The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and social constructions of Thai massage (TM) and Swedish massage (SM) for patients experiencing fatigue or depleted energy.

Method: Twenty participants were randomised to receive three once-weekly TM treatments and three once-weekly SM treatments, with crossover after three massages. Symptom checklists were administered at three time points and included Activation-Deactivation Adjective Check List and VAS Scale. Qualitative data were collected through semi-structured interviews and participants' diary entries.

Results: Both massage types enhanced physical, emotional and mental wellbeing through improved sleep, relaxation, relief of stress and relief of muscular tension. TM alone showed specific energising and psychological stimulation results, along with carry-over effect and longer lasting benefits. Ninety-five percent of participants found relief from their initial reason presenting symptoms.

Conclusion: TM or SM can relieve symptoms of fatigue or low energy by releasing stress, promoting relaxation, relieving muscular aches and pains and improving energy. SM results in a larger effect in relaxation and improved sleep whereas TM results in a larger effect in energising, rejuvenating and mentally stimulating effects.

Keywords: Complementary therapies; Cross-over studies; Massage; Soft tissue; Therapy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Relaxation