From Massage to Asian Bodywork Therapy

asian style bodywork therapy
Ancient Asian healing techniques are a hot trend in massage therapy.

Forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy

Ancient healing techniques from Asia – from reiki to shiatsu, acupressure, cupping, and moxibustion – are drawing interest from a whole generation of Western spa clients. Today it seems that “ancient” is the hot trend in massage therapy.

What Is Asian Body Work Therapy?

Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It uses traditional Asian techniques of pressure, movement, and manipulation to treat the body’s energy channels and restore and balance the flow of energy in the body. The goal of ABT is to promote, restore, and sustain harmony between the “five essential substances”: Qi or energy, Jing or essence, Shen or spirit, Xue or blood, and Jin-ye or body fluids.

Like massage therapy, ABT requires skills in palpation and structured touch techniques, but it also encompasses insight into the disharmony that affects the whole person, including their lifestyle. According to the American Organization of Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), ABT treatments involve “touching, pressing, or holding the body along meridians and/or on acupoints primarily with the hands, stretching, external application of medicinal plant foods, heat or cold, dietary and exercise suggestions.”

Shiatsu and Acupressure Are Popular in the West

More than a dozen types of ABT are currently practiced in the United States, with Shiatsu being the most common. Shiatsu, which means “finger pressure,” is a form of touch therapy that involves pressing, kneading, tapping, and stretching. Shiatsu is used to reduce stress and boost overall wellbeing as well as for the treatment of internal, musculoskeletal, and emotional conditions. By reducing muscle tension, stimulating the skin, helping digestion, and influencing the nervous system, shiatsu can help treat numerous chronic conditions, including stress and anxiety, headaches, premenstrual syndrome, digestive complaints, fatigue, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and pain in the lower back, neck, and joints.

Acupressure is another form of ABT that is popular in the US. Similar to acupuncture, but using touch in place of needles, acupressure addresses complaints by restoring or balancing the body’s flow of energy. Like Acupuncture, acupressure relies on several assessment tools (pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, questioning, looking, listening) to diagnose disharmonies in the body’s energy flows. Light pressure is applied to the same pressure points and meridians used in acupuncture to improve and balance the flow of energy. Acupressure is used to treat both physical and emotional pain, and also to address sexual problems, treat addiction, provide relaxation and stress reduction, boost the immune system, and even as a beauty treatment.

Start Your ABT Training in Massage School

The first step to becoming an ABT practitioner is to enroll in massage school. Professional massage therapy training programs, such as the one offered by SOCHi, provide the necessary training in massage therapy, as well as in anatomy and physiology, and training in theory and technique for various ABT methodologies, such as shiatsu and acupressure. These programs prepare students to sit for the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) and become licensed practitioners of massage therapy. Further training in specific Asian Bodywork Techniques can invigorate your massage therapy career by giving you the training you need to add a range of Asian-based healing techniques to your massage therapy practice.

Request more information about SOCHi’s Professional Massage Therapy program and get started on the path to becoming an Asian Bodywork Therapy practitioner.


Learn More at Southern California Health Institute Newsroom

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