Western and Eastern Massage Modalities

Western and Eastern Massage Modalities

WESTERN

Western forms of massage therapy are both traditional and modern. While Sports Massage, Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, and Trigger Point Massage are popular forms, they are not the only types of Western Massage available. Indeed there are many different variations of Western Massage. Some are straightforward adaptations of the essential Swedish Massage.

Others combine the traditional with a more modern approach. Some unite Eastern and Western elements to create a new entity. Among the many types of Western Massage Therapy are the following:

• Rolfing
• Myofascial Release
• Kurashova Method
• Esalen Massage
• Medical Massage and
• Reflexology.

Western Massage therapists have one major thing in common. They focus on the body. They frequently rely on a completely Western concept of medical knowledge. In most instances, it is all about the physical repair and maintenance of the body. This is certainly true of Rolfing.

Ida Rolf

ROLFING

Rolfing is the product of the work of Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979). The technique is officially the Rolfing Method of Structural Integration. It believes the body becomes worn down and shifts within the myofascial system (connective tissue). Using elbows, fingers, and knuckles, a practitioner helps to align the misaligned body tissue and joints. This is accomplished after ten sessions.

Once considered a painful experience, the methods have shifted and become gentler in their approach. Ida Rolf practiced at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, before establishing her process and school- the Rolf Institute. Esalen Massage, like Rolfing, is based on Swedish Massage. Its techniques are similar.

Esalen Massage Therapy features the long strokes of Swedish Massage, combining them with rocking movements and deep tissue massage. Esalen does so in what they refer to as a caring or nurturing environment.
The environmental factor owes much to the sensory awareness approach of Charlotte Selver. Nevertheless, the focus is on physical wellness. Rolfing is also related to Myofascial Release Massage Therapy.

The Myofascial Release approach owes much to the work of John Barnes, a physical therapist. The focus here, like in Rolfing, is on the fascia. The fascia are the connective tissues found everywhere around the muscles and joints; surrounding the organs and bones to release tension and restore balance to the physical body, the practitioner massages the affected areas. Fingers, palms, forearms, and elbows are brought into play.

The therapist uses long, gliding, and smooth strokes to stretch and mobilize the fascia. Like Rolfing, Myofascial Release Massage Therapy may be incorporated into other types of Massage Therapy.

MEDICAL MASSAGE

Medical Massage is another adaptation of Swedish Massage. Medical Massage addresses only the issues of healing the physical body. Its approach and techniques tend to vary according to the needs of the patient and the directions/prescriptions of the physician.

Medical Massage practitioners work together with other health professionals to restore health by treating injuries and addressing other illnesses. The most common types of massage address deformities, tennis elbow, sciatica, knee pain, sprained ankles, and repetitive stress disorders. The technique is illness-specific.

The Kurashova Method of massage therapy has its origins in Russia. It is a known form of medical massage introduced to the United States by Zhenya Kurashova Wine. The practice consists of more than 100 strokes. Depending upon the condition requiring treatment, the practitioner uses deep or gentle strokes. In essence, this method of massage combines Medical and Sports Massage elements. It intends to treat physical dysfunctions and enhance athletic performances. It can also help a client relax or re-energize their body. It is genuinely Western in both its medical and philosophical approach.