Exploring Massage Therapy: Lomi Lomi Massage

This summer’s issue of the Massage Therapy Journal includes a detailed look at Lomi Lomi massage, a modality that originated in Hawaii and has since been “westernized”, gaining recognition among massage therapists in America. The specifics of the modality are pretty interesting as there are many differences, and some similarities, between Lomi Lomi massage and a traditional Swedish massage.

Starting with the differences, first and foremost, Lomi Lomi massage is administered with therapists predominantly using their forearms instead of their hands. Lots of oil is used to allow the therapist’s forearm to make the long, gliding strokes typical of Lomi Lomi massage.

In the article, therapists claimed that the use of the forearm allows more pressure per square inch to be administered, thus creating a wave type feeling of deep-tissue pressure as the Lomi Lomi massage is administered. Therapists claim this is a different way of providing a traditional, deep-tissue massage, which can liven up a practice and reinvigorate clients and their interest in massage.

Because Lomi Lomi features long, gliding strokes to all major parts of the body, clients are generally pretty exposed during their massage, so the massage room should be kept at a balmy 85 degrees. This keeps clients warm, and also, therapists claim, allows for more effective tissue manipulation.

While very different, Lomi Lomi massage is also more of the same, a deep-pressure modality, with a lot of the benefits that a traditional Swedish massage provides: increased circulation, deep relaxation, heightened sense of well-being, etc. The translation of Lomi Lomi, too, can simultaneously seem different and unusual (with some translations suggesting Lomi Lomi means “to break into little pieces”), while also seeming very familiar (another translation has Lomi Lomi meaning “to rub”).

The article (click on the link above) provides interesting perspectives on Lomi Lomi massage’s history, and some therapist’s philosophical, holistic, and practical perspectives of the modality. As always, if any readers have more information they want to add about Lomi Lomi massage, please do so in the comments area.

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