What are Sib Sen?

Sib Sen are ten energy lines in the human body that act as conduits for universal energy in Traditional Thai massage and medicine.

Thai massage images at Wat Pho


The basis of Thai massage is the theoretical and practical knowledge of Sib Sen. In Thai, Sib means ten, and Sen translates as a line. So Sib Sen are the ten major energy lines in the human body. These energy channels are similar to the meridians in Chinese medicine and Shiatsu and the Nadi in yoga.

Sen are not blood vessels, lymph canals, nerves, tendons or ligaments, and they can neither be seen with the eye nor with the help of microscopes. They are invisible pathways that contain Lom Pran, the life energy in the human body.
Most Sen exist in corresponding pairs, a masculine and a feminine line. Some Sen overlap and combine the functionality of the respective overlapping Sen. And some Sen have specific acupressure points that have particular therapeutic functionality.

When a Sen line becomes blocked or broken, the Lom Pran becomes inactive, and the body loses its’ state of equilibrium. This imbalance causes a person to feel discomfort or illness.

Thai massage removes blockages that can obstruct these channels with a combination of acupressure and stretching. Acupressure is a pressure that a Thai massage practitioner applies with thumbs, elbows, and knees.

By opening the energy channels and balancing the flow of energy using acupressure, a Thai massage practitioner re-activates the flow of Lom Pran and restores balance to the body.


Sen lines are not an exact science. Thai massage schools all share the same understanding of Sib Sen but disagree over the precise location of each pathway.

The earliest recorded reference to Sib Sen comes from a Thai scriptural record called the Tamla Loke Nitan Text from the reign of King Rama II (1809-1824 CE). Another reference comes from the Royal Traditional Thai Medicine Text, written during the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910 CE).

By far, the most famous early references come from the reign of King Rama III (1824-1851 CE). He deliberately attempted to rescue lost traditional Thai medicine knowledge by turning Wat Pho in Bangkok into Thailand’s first university. King Rama III called together master artisans and experts in many subjects to gather, share and record their knowledge about Thai Traditional Medicine. These artisans created murals, paintings, plaques and marble tablets that show the energy lines and acupressure points on the front and back of a human body. They also inscribed explanations of each Sen line’s therapeutic use on the sides.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, the reputation of Thai massage declined and became associated with the sex trade. So in 1985, the Thai government supported a special task force named The Thai Massage Revival Project (TMRP) to restore the reputation of Thai massage. Twelve of Thailand’s most respected Thai massage practitioners and teachers met and discussed the future of Thai massage. Among other things, this group reached a common consensus about the trajectories and functions of Sib Sen. They then developed a curriculum used by many Thai massage schools and teachers in Thailand and the rest of the world.

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