Eastern and Western Massage Therapy Techniques

Massage Students Should Gain Exposure to Eastern and Western Techniques

By Courtney Slivka

Eastern and Western Massage TechniquesPut quite simply, most massage traditions are categorized as either Eastern or Western. Yet travel around the world and you will probably find both Eastern and Western offerings in each city, sometimes even offered within the same establishment, and even by the same therapist.

So what differentiates Eastern massage techniques from Western massage traditions? The categories arise from the origins of each form of massage.

Eastern traditions of bodywork are often thought to be the oldest traditions in the world. Many of these techniques arose in the ancient civilizations of Asia, yet the traditions are still practiced even today. Eastern forms of bodywork include Shiatsu, Thai massage, and acupressure, though there are numerous other techniques as well.

Many of these schools of thought focus on the traditional Asian ideas of medicine and the human body, which varies in many ways from today’s modern beliefs about human science.

The Western theories of massage are much newer in comparison to many of the Eastern techniques. Today the most popular form of Western massage theory is Swedish massage. It is a therapeutic form of massage meant to enhance overall well-being by promoting relaxation.

In addition, deep tissue, sports massage, trigger point therapy, and myofascial release have all evolved from the basic techniques of Swedish massage.

Many American massage schools focus primarily on the Western techniques of massage since it is the one most commonly practiced in American spas, gyms, health clubs, and more. Nevertheless the Eastern bodywork traditions are also quite popular, and even schools with a Western based curriculum include at least basic introductions to some of the Eastern techniques.

As a student of massage therapy, it is advisable to at least get a taste of a number of different techniques. Then you will have the information and experience to choose a tradition to study further, or incorporate into your own practice.

Along with learning each tradition in school, take time to schedule sessions with professionals in each of the different areas of massage. You can experience the different types of massage first hand, and see which type you would most like to perform on a regular basis.



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