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Wake up and smell the herbs. Luk Pra Kob massage, also known as a Thai Herbal Compress treatment uses bundles of warm, mixed herbs to relieve pressure in your body and sooth tired, tense muscles. A traditional Thai therapy, this age-old healing herb ritual can help target specific problem areas, or simply be enjoyed as a form of relaxation.
Combining traditional Thai massage movements with the use of hot herbal compresses, if being marinated from head to toe with pungent herbs has ever appealed to you, read on. Mixing together various blends of medicinal herbs and resins such as plai, ginger, tumeric, cumin and cloves, these are wrapped in a cotton cloth, fashioned into neat and tidy packages and then heated in a steamer to accelerate the release of the essential oils (which means they’ll penetrate your skin quicker).
Twisted into a bulbous compress with a ‘stem’ to grip, your masseuse will use the bundles as massage tools, pressing, kneading, twisting and tapping your muscles to release blocked energy, improve circulation and work out painful knots. For areas that are too painful to massage, these won’t be left redundant, but instead will have warm bags gently placed upon them so the herbs can work their magic.
Usually applied directly onto bare skin, sometimes a few drops of massage oil will be rubbed on first to reduce resistance between the cloth and your body. However, depending on how the compresses are applied and the coarseness of the cloth, there is the chance you’ll experience some skin exfoliation due to the friction on your damp skin. There’s also the option to have the massage fully clothed (as long as what you’re wearing isn’t overly restrictive) and it’s advisable not to shower for up to four hours after the treatment, in order to maximise the benefits of the herbal compounds.
As with most massage treatments, the techniques used can help rid you of unwanted stress, relieve muscular aches and pains, and increase blood and lymph circulation. Recommended for people who suffer from Repetitive Strain Injury, the therapy can stimulate the mind and body by opening energy lines and breaking up any congestion in the lungs and sinuses. Renowned for its general effect on health, several of the herbs also boast anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, moisturising and numbing properties which are great for rectifying sore, pulled or overworked muscles.
Not advisable for those who are sensitive to heat or prone to allergies, Luk Pra Kob should also be avoided if you have any recent wounds, high blood pressure, varicose veins or non-controlled diabetes.
Part of Thai culture for the past 400 years, Luk Pra Kob can also be performed as a face treatment. Using smaller compressors, it is said to sooth and soften the skin as well as reduce wrinkles.