Of all the stretches and massage techniques used during a typical Thai Massage session the bridge, also known as the kidney stretch, seems to be the one that worries people the most.
Perhaps it’s because this is an unusual position to find yourself in, perhaps it’s because it requires you to trust completely in your therapist and let go of any kind of control.
Why is kidney stretch so beneficial?
First of all in order to be taken into the kidney stretch you have to make sure that the plants of your feet are firmly resting on your therapist’s knees. This is for balance and support but it’s also to use your own weight against the therapist’s kneecaps to stimulate the acupressure points on the soles of your feet that are connected with the kidneys.
Acupressure is a big part of Thai Yoga Massage as it works to release energy blockages along the Sen Lines. These are thought to be energy channels similar to the Meridians found in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. The points relating to the kidneys are situated on the soles of the feet, more or less around the same spot where the kidney meridians have their origin. Although the kidneys are stimulated via other points on the body during a treatment, the points under the feet are worked on multiple times.
The other benefit from this technique is that, as the hips are being lifted off the floor, the spine, the abdominal and quadriceps muscles get a gentle stretch and, if your therapist is taller than you, you will be able to enjoy the feeling of almost being suspended upside down which in turn will allow the vertebrae to naturally stretch a bit further.
Because the arms are resting on the floor this technique will help your chest to open and to let go of stress and anxiety and create the space for happier thoughts.
To get the most out of this technique it’s imperative that you, as a client, remain as passive as possible throughout. “Helping” your therapist with this technique will backfire on you as you won’t reap the full benefits of the stretch and will put your therapist at risk of injury if you either resist or push yourself up.
The bridge, although a technique with plenty of scope to be executed in isolation, is usually part of a sequence of exercises aimed at mobilizing the spine by gently flexing it backwards and forwards. This will make your core stronger and better able to cope with every day life activities and even, hopefully, help you prevent injuries in the event of a banana skin moment resulting in a fall.
If you think you will benefit from the kidney stretch book a treatment HERE.