Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Similarities and differences of Eastern and Western massage

Both Eastern and Western forms of massage are similar in that they are both health related and both incorporate body work. Western massage tends to mirror Western medicine where illnessess are broken down to one area of the body and that area is treated. If someone has backpain that is the area the massage therapist will concentrate on. Using her knowledge of anatomy and physiology she will work on that area to relieve the pain. In contrast Eastern massage looks at the body as a whole system. Physical,mind and spiritual aspects of the body are taken into consideration when massage is performed. This includes energy work. Western massage looks to fixing problems through physically rubbing and manipulating the body where as Eastern massage works on energy systems of the whole body such as using pressure on acupoints and working on energy meridians.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Historical, Cultural and Philosophical approaches to Massage

Historical, cultural and philosophical approaches to massage

This blog will compare the development of massage in the Eastern and Western traditions. I will show the role of a number of prominent individuals in the development of massage in the Western tradition..A comparison of maori massage (miri miri & romi romi) with Western massage will be explored, as will the development of professional massage in New Zealand including MINZI, NZATMP, TMA, & MNZ. The massage scandals of the 1980s and their impact on the massage industry, along with contemporary massage will be discussed. I will then cover the following philosophical approaches to massage (body, body-mind, body-mind-spirit) and how they relate to the historical and cultural contexts already discussed.

Massage has been around since the beginning of time. The natural instinct of a mother to comfort and rub a distressed baby, grooming and stroking our loved ones and rubbing a hurt. The development of massage in the East and in the West have largely developed as seperate entities until recent times.
Massage was first recorded in China during the second century B.C. in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, massage is mentioned as a recommendation for the treatment of certain ailments. In India, the traditional healing system of Ayurvedic medicine also prescribed massage for a variety of medical conditions. Physicians of ancient Greece and Rome used massage as one of the primary methods of treating pain. In the West, during the fifth century B.C. Hippocrates also instructed his fellow physicians on the many benefits of rubbing.(Carlson 2006) Julius Caesar was said to been given a daily massage to treat neuralgia.(Massage Therapy Holisticonline 2007) Before 50 A.D. Celcsius, a roman physician, wrote De Medicina ( 8 text books with a lot of information on massage. The first schools of massage were developed in China around 100 A.D. Around 600A.D. The Japanese developed shiatsu. In the 1800’s Ling studied massage after he cured himself of rheumatism in his arm. He then went on to form the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in Stockholm. Also in 1800’s Reiki , which was believed to date back to early Tibetan healing practices, was discovered by a Japanese philosopher and Christian seminary educator, Dr. Mikao Usui. Johann Mezger. Holland. Brought medical massage to the scientific community. He started using the terms effleurage, petrissage and tapotement. In 1895 Freud used massage to treat hysteria and Kellogg wrote “The Art of Massage.(Onofrio2008)

In the Western tradition some influential names from the history of massage need a mention at this time.
Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) is widely regarded to be the father of medicine and a renowned advocate of massage. He wrote about the use of friction in the treatment of many ailments, as well as about its physiological effects: “rubbing has the effect of relaxing, constricting, thickening and thinning; hard rubbing constrict, soft relaxes, much rubbing thins, and moderate thickens” The ancient physician Claudius Galenus, commonly known as Galen (131-201 A.D.) was a strong proponent of the Hippocratic method. In his extensive writings about massage he did not provide a definition: however, in his De Saniotate Tuenda (Hygiene) he did give descriptions of massage.. He wrote that the objective is “to soften the body” before exercise. “And the rubbings should be of many sorts, with strokes and circuits [sic] of the hands, carry them not only from above down and from below up, but also sub vertically, obliquely, transversely, and subtransversely.” He goes on to give more details about how the hands should move “from every direction”.(Calvert2004) There is debate over whether Pehr Henrik Ling (17776-1839) is the father of Swedish Massage. He was a physiologist and gymnastics instrucor. He developed his own system of medical gymnastics and exercise, known as the Ling System, Swedish Movements, or Swedish Movement Cure. According to Ling, his Swedish gymnastics was a therapeutic system by which we try- by means of influencing movement- to overcome discomfort that has arisen through abnormal conditions. Ling’s system consists of three primary movements, active, passive and duplicated. Massage was viewed as a component of ling’s overall system. This system eventually led to the development of physical therapy as a profession (Salvo2007)
Another key individual in the history of massage is Johann Mezger (1817-1893). He was responsible for making massage a fundamental component of physical rehabilitation. He has also been credited with the introduction of the still-used French terminology to the massage profession ( efffleurage, petrissage, and tapotement.) Unlike Pehr Ling, Mezger , being a physician, was much more able than to promote massage using a medical and scientific basis. Mezger was quite successful in getting the medical profession to accept massage as a bona fide medical treatment for disease and illness. In 1895 while others were trying to convince the medical profession about the benefits of massage John Harvey Kellogg was busy trying to convince the general public. He wrote books on massage and articles in magazines. It was efforts like this that helped to make massage more popular at this time in the United States of America. (Salvo 2007)
Other important developments came from: 1932 Emil Vodder. Danish Physiologist created Manual Lymph Drainage. 1952. Janet Travell researches Triggerpoints
1907- Edgar Ferdinand Cyriax- Used Lings Swedish Movement Cure and Mechanotherapeutics. 1940- James Cyriax, son of Edgar Ferdinand Cyriax, and British Osteopath, created deep transverse friction.(Onofrio2008)

Traditional Maori health is based on treating the body, mind, spirit and includes family. If one of these is damaged or missing the person becomes unwell and unbalanced. Maori massage is taught in a family context and incorporates all four dimensions. They believe the physical being is just one aspect of health and cannot be separated from the aspect of mind, spirit and family. Maori massage encompasses all these aspects. In Maori massage miri miri is gentle and rhythmic more like a relaxation massage, where as romi romi can be seen to be like a deep tissue massage In contrast Western massage deals mainly with the physical aspect of the body, assessing where the pain is arising and focusing on that area. Stress which could be argued as being an emotional response is often dealt with physically through relaxation massage.(McQuillan2009)

In the 1890's there was a dramatic increase in the popularity of massage. A large number of schools were established to teach massage. Teaching standards tended to be poor and they were making exaggerated claims about the benefits of massage. They tended to recruit students from poor areas and were changing large fees. Because the market was being flooded by so many of these trainees there was not much work for them and they were unable to pay their fees. Schools then set up there own clinics and the students were able to work there to help pay their fees. This led to the rise of massage parlors and the association with prostitution Because of the false advertising, the varying educational standards of therapists, and the rise in massage parlors, the reputation of massage declined.(McQuillan2009)

In the 1900's there were over 300 massage therapists practicing in New Zealand. In 1913-1946 massage was taught in New Zealand through Otago University and hospital. In 1947 this changed to the be called the School of Physiotherapy. Legally you could not practice massage therapy unless you were a qualified physiotherapist. In time physiotherapist became disinterested in doing massage because of the time it took and also because of it's reputation of having an association with prostitution and massage parlors. In 1985 Bill Wareham called a meeting of all massage therapists and the Massage Institute of New Zealand (MINZ) was formed. Its focus was education of massage therapists and standards of massage teachers. Annual conferences were held for skill development. In 1989 Jim Sanford established the New Zealand Association of Therapeutic Massage Practitioners(NZATMP) He saw the need to focus on educational standards, promotion of a professional image and increase the public awareness of massage. In the late 1990”s the name was simplified to be known as the Therapeutic Massage Association (TMA). There was a new membership structure- subscriber member and registered massage therapists. NZQA unit standards were introduced and there was a change of focus to supporting the needs of the qualified therapist and being a voice for the massage industry. TMA and MINZ have now merged to be called Massage New Zealand, and the future for massage therapy is looking good. Massage is becoming more popular as the public is exploring their options when dealing with health care. Educational standards are raising and there is a growing acceptance of massage amongst other health care professionals.(McQuillan2009)

Contemporary massage is a mixture of biomedical and complimentary medicine. “We have a foot in both camps” (McQuillan 2009). Massage today incorporates orthopedic massage, neuro-muscular techniques, lymphatic drainage and fascia release. We as massage therapists are also becoming aware of holistic therapy which treats the whole person. It recognizes the relationships between environmental, body, emotions, mind and spirit , and treats all of these component

Western massage through history has focused on the physical body. Massage was used to soften and relax muscles. We focus on the anatomical and physiological aspect of the body. Over time it has been accepted that massage also has an effect on the mind. Massage is helpful when dealing with stress and can also be beneficial and useful in client dealing with mental illness. It seems to me that Eastern and Ethnic massage through the centuries has always acknowledge the body-mind-spirit approach of massage. Each is as important as the other. Western massage and medicine is just taking time to catch up and recognizing the importance of holistic treatment

I come from a scientific background. In my previous job I used a microscope to diagnose cancer. Everything could be seen,touched and explained. That is how Western science works. Training as a Massage Therapist and talking with my fellow students has opened up a whole new world for me The more we understand how massage has developed over time and the differences between Eastern and Western approaches to massage the more we can appreciate massage as a basic health practice.

Carlson,S.(2006). History of massage. Retrieved May 31,2009, from
Calvert,R.(2004). Pages of History: What is Massage. Massage magazine,108.Retrieved May 24, 2009, from
Massage Therapy Holistic History of Massage. Retrieved May 31,2009,from
McQuillan, D. (2009). Effects of massage. Retrieved June 2, 2009 from Elluminate Sessions
Onofrio,J,(2008). General Time Line The History of Massage, Bodywork and Related Modalities . Retrieved June 6,2009, from
Salvo,S (2007) Massage Therapy Principles (3rd, Edition) Missouri: Saunders Elsvier