Massage therapy leads to relaxation and revitalization. Eastern massage and western massage differ in their approach. While eastern massage approach is from the energy point of view, western massage approach is towards the physical human body. Thus in western massage therapy you get healing system that addresses various parts of the body. Eastern massage therapy involves healing based on energy flow and balance and tries to attain integration of energy in human mind and form.

Comparison chart

Eastern Massage versus Western Massage comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartEastern MassageWestern Massage
Strokes Required Pressure, rocking, rolling and striking. Effleurage or gliding, percussion or tapping, friction, vibration and petrissage or kneading.
Steps Based on Energy flow and balances within body. Concepts of anatomy, pathology and physiology.
Areas Works on Stimulating and soothing points along energy meridians to create effect on other sites as well as along meridians. Realigning and restoring whole system by working on various parts of body like digestive system, nervous system and musculo-skeletal system.
Associated wellness techniques Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais method, Pilates, Hellerwork, Trager approach
Thai massage
Thai massage

Diagnosis in Eastern and Western Massages

In an eastern massage, diagnosis is done by observing tongue and pulse but in a radically different manner. The pulse is examined by feeling it in three positions on wrist. A therapist can detect imbalances and disharmonies in various parts of body by examining the pulse in this way. The tongue is another organ which is subjected to detailed examination by an eastern massage therapist. The therapist aims to finding the root cause of complaint rather than a symptomatic diagnosis. A western trained massage therapist directly addresses the problem. She examines the general symptoms and considers the reasons for these.

Eastern vs Western Massage Techniques

Eastern massage uses a technique of stimulation and soothes particular points on the energy meridians of body creating effects on various parts regulated by points along the meridians. They do not use the general techniques of stroking and kneading but uses more advanced and varied techniques involving pressure, rocking, rolling and striking. All these are more vigorous than a Western massage.

Western massage promotes relaxation, circulation, motion and relieves muscle tension. Apart from the general five strokes of gliding, tapping, vibration, friction and kneading, contemporary western massage techniques include deep tissue massage, myofascial release, sports massage, soft tissue massage and trigger point therapy.

Forms of Eastern and Western Massage

Eastern massage is more about channeling inherent energy of an individual to bring about integration of mind and body for greater level of consciousness and feeling. In combination with body work, movement therapy and breathing techniques, the body and mind are integrated through various practices like yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

The most popular form of western massage is the Swedish massage. When western massage is combined with body work and movement therapy, the result is a myriad of techniques like Pilates, Hellerwork, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Trager approach etc. Most of these help in controlling pains and aches as well as aids in relaxation of body.

Based on individual's comfort level and beliefs a choice can be made between eastern and western massage, though looking from a larger perspective both of them deal with health, wellness and healing.

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