Differences Between Eastern vs Western Massage?

Massage therapy is one of the oldest healing traditions, and so the varieties of massages available today come from a diverse mix of cultures and styles. These can be split into two major categories – Eastern Massage and Western Massage. Whilst they differ in their approach, both have their benefits and applications. Here we give you some background on each style and help you decide which is best for treating your ailments.

Eastern vs. Western Medicine

Massage has always been used to compliment traditional medicine in healing the body and treating different kinds of chronic health problems including sleep disorders (insomnia), chronic pains and chronic fatigue syndromes, so it’s no surprise that both Eastern and Western massage have roots alongside the medicine of their respective cultures.

Eastern medicine practitioners are trained to view the body as one unified system incorporating the physical body, the mind and the spirit – otherwise known as a holistic approach. Western medicine, on the other hand, traditionally separates the body by its different functions and only focuses on healing the area where pain is felt or disease is experienced. This holistic versus segmented or focussed approach is evident in the styles of Eastern versus Western massage respectively.

Eastern Massage Approach to Healing

This type of massage approach addresses the energy flow and balance within the body, stimulating and soothing specific points along the ‘energy meridians’ to create effects at other sites along those meridians. Based on the energy flow and balance, it works to attain a balance of energy in the mind and body.

Eastern Massage Therapists will find what areas of the body to focus on by determining where your energy imbalances lie. They can do this in a number of ways – one such way is to examine the pulse at three positions on the wrist. From this, imbalances and disharmonies in various parts of the body can be detected.

Western Massage Approach to Healing

Western Massage leans more heavily towards the physical, with a mechanistic approach to diagnosing the problem and addressing it directly.

Western Massage Therapists focus on the individual parts of the body where symptoms (such as pain or discomfort) lie. The therapist will examine the symptoms and focus their massage techniques in these areas.

Eastern vs. Western Massage Techniques

Eastern Massage uses pressure points along the energy meridians of the body. Stimulating and soothing these particular areas will improve the energy flow outwards along those meridians, having a positive effect on the areas regulated by each pressure point. The physical techniques used to stimulate the pressure points include rolling, rocking and striking them. These techniques are much more vigorous than those used in Western Massage.

Western Massage, on the other hand, promotes higher levels of relaxation by using circular motions that help to relieve muscle tension in symptomatic areas. This massage style uses five stoke techniques including kneading, gliding, tapping, friction and vibration.

What Massage Style is Right for You?

Your personal comfort levels will help decide which style would work best for you. Eastern Massage tends to be more vigorous during the massage, but the focus on Energy points will leave both your mind and body feeling relaxed and revived afterwards.

Western Massage on the other hand will provide focussed and immediate relief for aches and pains as well as aiding relaxation in the body during the treatment.

However, what often works best is to use techniques from both disciplines to provide a holistic and focussed relief of symptoms. Before your massage with us you can speak to your massage therapist who can talk you through the different techniques applied during the massage you have chosen, and depending on your symptoms and your preferences we can tailor your massage to your needs.