Types of massage that might be incorporated into any Lomilomi session

Lomilomi (Hawaiian Massage)

The word Lomilomi simply means ‘massage’. It is a unique healing massage derived from the ancient Polynesians and more specifically the master healers of Hawaii. The fundamental assumption is that everything seeks harmony and everything seeks love.

Lomilomi massage works gently yet deeply into the muscles with continuous, flowing, rhythmic strokes, using the forearms as well as the hands, and also specific pressure into energy-blocked areas. On the physical level, stress and tension are relieved, blood and lymph flow assisted and the elimination of wastes and toxins stimulated.

Lomilomi looks at things in the terms that an idea or belief can block energy flow as much as muscle tension can. Lomilomi helps release the blockages, whilst at the same time giving the energy new direction. Thus Lomilomi is not just a physical experience; it also facilitates healing on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well. Since all aspects of the body are one, when healing is effected on one level, all levels are affected.

Because the practitioner works intuitively, a massage may be slow and very relaxing, or at times it may be a little faster and therefore more invigorating and enlivening to the body.

Medical Massage Therapy

This is a name for massage therapy that is performed with a desired clinical outcome, while honoring any contraindications. MMT simply connects the clinical model, physical and pain evaluation, postural and ROM analysis with the appropriate massage technique that will assist in easing the symptoms of the assessed pathology. It is often performed in concert with a medical team via prescription or referral. It can include the skills of the Morin technique, Lomilomi, Myofascial Release, Trigger Point therapy, and general relaxation.

Myofascial Release

This is a form of soft tissue therapy intended for pain relief and to increase range of motion. Techniques of manual massage for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, skin, muscles, and bones are applied. The fascia is manipulated, directly or indirectly, to allow the connective tissue fibers to reorganize themselves in a more flexible, functional fashion.

The fascia is a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures located under the skin and within the underlying structures of muscle and bone. Muscle and fascia together form the myofascial system.

Injuries, stress, inflammation, trauma, and poor posture can cause restrictions to the fascia. Since fascia is an interconnected web within the body, restriction or tightness at one place can spread to other places in the body like a pull in a knitted sweater. The goal of myofascial release is to ease any restrictions and restore the tissue health.

The direct myofascial release (or deep tissue work) method works on the restricted fascia. Practitioners use knuckles, elbows, or other tools to slowly stretch the restricted fascia by applying a specific angled pressure. The practitioner moves slowly through the layers of the fascia until the deep tissues are reached.

The indirect method involves a gentle stretch, with only a few grams of pressure, which allows the fascia to slowly 'unwind' itself. The gentle traction applied to the restricted fascia will result in heat and increased blood flow in the area. This allows the body's inherent ability for self correction to return, thus eliminating pain and restoring optimum performance.

Sports Massage

Sports massage was originally developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for a strong performance, to recover after a big event, or to function well during training. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of any injuries to the muscles and tendons.

You don't have to be in the Olympics to benefit from sports massage. It is also good for people with injuries, or those suffering from chronic pain or restricted range of motion. The massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area. (Sore neck and shoulders, anyone?)

Sports massage is a type of Swedish massage that stimulates the circulation of blood and lymph fluids. Some sports massage movements also use trigger point therapy to break down adhesions (knots in the muscles) and increase range of motion.

There are four types of sports massages:

* pre-event sports massage -- a short, stimulating massage 15 - 45 minutes before the event. It is directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion, to wake up the muscles, tendons and ligaments.

* post-event sports massage -- given within an hour or two of the event, it is used to normalize the body's tissues and flush out toxins.

* restorative sports massage -- given during training to allow the athlete to train harder and with less injury.

* rehabilitative sports massage -- aimed at alleviating pain caused by injury and to return the body to health.

Trigger Point Therapy

A trigger point is a hyper-irritable spot that is painful. It is called a trigger point because it "triggers" a painful response.

But a trigger point is more than a tender nodule. It affects not only the muscle where the trigger point is located, but also causes "referred pain" in tissues supplied by nerves.

Trigger points are located in a taut band of muscle fibers. The trigger point is the most tender point in the band. The therapist will locate and deactivate trigger points using finger pressure. One technique is to pick up the muscle fibers in a pincer grip. Another is using pressure directly into the point.

These points are often areas of chronic "holding" and you need to learn how to move in different ways to keep them from recurring. It took a while to get the muscle in that condition, and it will likely take more than one massage to get rid of it.

It will be uncomfortable as the pressure into the trigger point itself causes pain. The massage therapist should check in with you constantly to make sure the pain never reaches the point that you can’t relax into it at the beginning (about 6 on a scale of 1 – 10), and that the pain reduces under pressure (to about 2 on a scale of 1 – 10).

Another subset of the trigger points are ‘pressure points’. These are believed to be the precursors to trigger points. They also are tender points, though they often do not present as nodules and they do not reflect pain. A pressure point can often be reduced with deep specific massage of the area.

Swedish Massage

Also known as ‘the one with the oil’, Swedish massage is the most commonly offered and best-known type of massage.

During Swedish massage, massage therapists use massage oil to assist smooth, gliding strokes over the entire body. This stroke is called effleurage, and it is usually the starting and ending stroke. Other classic Swedish massage moves include kneading, called petrissage, friction, stretching and quick tapping, called tapotement.

Swedish massage uses firm but gentle pressure to promote relaxation, ease muscle tension and create other health benefits.

Generally, during Swedish massage you're either partially or completely nude underneath a fully covering towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the part of the body s/he is working on, a technique called "draping". You can keep your underpants on during Swedish massage, and many clients do.

Feel free to state your preference for pressure during Swedish massage. It can range from light to firm. Swedish massage usually includes some deeper work on areas of specific muscle tension.


Seated Massage

Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods often results in lower back pain. Repetitive motion injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, are common among office workers.

Chair massage utilizes acupressure and Swedish massage to relieve tension. The client is seated upright on a special massage chair, fully clothed and no oils are used. A ten to twenty minute seated massage relieves tension in neck, back, shoulder and arm muscles.

Barefoot Shiatsu

Barefoot Shiatsu is a form of Acupressure with its roots in Eastern Medicine. Sessions take place on a mat or pad with the recipient in loose, comfortable clothing, without shoes.

The heel, sole and ball of the foot are the chief instruments employed by the practitioner. This extensive use of the feet, for rocking and leaning, is the prime factor that distinguishes Barefoot Shiatsu from its sister disciplines.

Pressure from the feet is broad and powerful. The legs are far stronger than the arms, enabling them to channel the full weight of the body. The hands can exert a pressure of 30 kilos. The added force that the feet can bring to bear easily more than doubles the amount of pressure possible with the hands, allowing the practitioner to introduce movement into locked tissues.

However, as in traditional Shiatsu, the palms, thumbs and fingers also come into play for smaller, more specific work and for work that requires opposable thumbs.

Pre-Natal Massage

In pre-natal massage, the client is usually placed on her side, supported by cushions. First Trimester, it can relieve headaches, help alleviate morning sickness, and reduce fatigue. Second Trimester, it can alleviate backaches and relieve leg cramps. Third Trimester, it can help reduce swelling/edema and enhance sleep

During the entire term of the pregnancy, massage can stimulate blood flow, which may assist in the prevention of anemia. An increase in muscle tone and flexibility will occur, alleviating leg cramps and muscle spasms.

Lymphatic Drainage

Lymphatic drainage is a holistic approach to promoting a healthy lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels and ducts that moves fluid throughout the body. It is responsible for moving toxins away from healthy cells and carrying germ-fighting materials to cells when they are under attack by viruses. Though this fluid moves through the lymphatic system, it does not have its own pumping mechanism. It relies on your own body movement to facilitate the flow. Lymphatic drainage is a type of therapy that is intended to help the body produce a free-flowing lymphatic system.

A lymphatic drainage massage primarily focuses on specific lymph nodes and points of the body, as well as the natural flow of the lymphatic system. Proponents of lymphatic drainage believe that the process will reduce blockages of the lymphatic system, which in turn promotes a healthier body.

When the lymphatic system becomes blocked, lymph nodes may become swollen. Once this happens, the system can fail to remove the body’s toxins and can even affect white blood cell counts. Lymphatic drainage is believed to reduce blockage, which promotes health in the lymphatic system as well as other bodily systems, such as the circulatory, respiratory, muscular and endocrine systems. It is also believed that lymphatic drainage therapy can reduce allergies, menstrual cramps, colds and other viruses.

While lymphatic drainage is about preventative health care and is considered safe, physical symptoms such as swollen glands can indicate a problem with the lymphatic system and should be evaluated by a physician.


Polarity Therapy

Energy fields and currents exist naturally everywhere. A blend of modern science and complementary medicine, Polarity Therapy declares that when the flow and balance of energy in the human body becomes unbalanced, blocked or fixed due to stress or other factors, that is when pain and disease arise. The Polarity Therapist searches for the blockages and restores the energy to normal flow patterns, thus returning the Energy Field to an open, flexible condition.

Polarity Therapy has strong connections to many other healing and holistic health systems. From the Ayurvedic tradition, Polarity integrates the "Three Principles and Five Chakras" and has been called the modern manifestation of ancient Hermetic Philosophy. In Oriental therapies, the positive and negative energetic pulsations are known as Yang and Yin. Energy moves out from a central source – which is repulsion, then back to the source – which is attraction. Polarity practitioners use this natural phenomenon as a way of tracking energy flow.

In a typical session, the practitioner assesses the client’s energetic attributes using verbal interview, visual observation and palpation. Sessions do not require disrobing, usually take 60-90 minutes, and involve soft touch, rocking and some deeper point specific touch. Contact may be light, medium or firm. The client will often feel tingling, warmth, expansion or wavelike movement. The results of Polarity Therapy sessions vary on the physical level, and often include profound relaxation, and a deeper understanding of energetic patterns and their implications in the health of the body.

Cranial Sacral Therapy

Also known as Cranio-Sacral therapy, this is a method of Complementary and Alternative medicine used by physical therapists, massage therapists, naturopaths, chiropractors and osteopaths. A cranial-sacral therapy session involves the therapist gently working with the spine, the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia, to ease the restrictions of nerve passages, optimize the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord, and restore misaligned bones to their proper position. Cranial-Sacral therapists use the therapy to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ Syndrome, and for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Jin Shin Jyutsu

Jin Shin Jyutsu® Physio-Philosophy is an ancient, simple style of acupressure. It works with a set of 26 points (called Safety Energy Locks or SELs) along energy pathways. The 26 Energy Locks are the locations on the body where energy tends to become stuck. When a pathway becomes blocked, energy stagnates. This initially affects the local area of stagnation, but has the potential to create imbalance along the entire pathway.

A Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner uses the hands (referred to as "jumper cables") to hold SELs in various combinations, or sometimes individually. The very simplicity and gentleness of the process allows the client to relax and connect to the working. As the SELs are released and balance is restored, the client can re-experience physical, mental, and spiritual harmony.


Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body's natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body's life force to aid healing.

Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands.