What is Holistic Massage


A massage is one of the most commonly known, loved, and revered of all holistic therapies. A fail-safe present idea for mums and brides-to-be and a decadent choice for luxurious weekend breaks, the humble massage has become the ultimate health-enhancing indulgence across the globe. 

Whether you’re lying on a sun lounger indulging in a post-swim holiday massage or are tackling your muscular pain head-on with a deep tissue massage, there’s no doubt that massage therapies popularity is well and truly worth the hype. Massages don’t just have a great reputation among the general population — they’re also regularly prescribed by medical professionals as a way of dealing with pain, stress, anxiety and a whole host of other ailments, aches and pains. But how much do you know about massage therapy? And what is holistic massage? 

Holistic massage is an ancient method of healing that combines traditional forms of bodywork with holistic philosophy. As with all holistic practices, a holistic massage approaches an individual as a whole and takes into account the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being of a person rather than focusing on an isolated symptom or pain. But what makes a holistic massage different from a regular massage, and what are the benefits of a holistic approach to bodywork? 

In this post, we take a deep dive into the world of holistic massage — its origins, its techniques, its benefits, and what makes it so unique. 

What Makes Holistic Massage Different?

Holistic massage is an umbrella term used in complementary and alternative medicine to describe healing therapies that combine bodywork with holistic philosophies. In essence, a holistic massage is anything that uses physical touch and muscular manipulation to shift energy and enhance the mind-body-spirit connection. Let’s break that down. 

The first part of the equation — bodywork — is pretty simple. Bodywork describes the techniques used in massage to stimulate and manipulate the fascia and muscles. In massage therapy, there are a range of techniques and strokes used, including: 

  • Effleurage: stroking movements 
  • Petrissage: kneading
  • Tapotement: cupping movements 
  • Vibrations: vibrations using fingers 

These strokes are the bread and butter of massage, shared across all types of massage therapy. The second part of the equation — a holistic approach — is a little more complex to describe, but this is the key idea that separates a holistic massage from a standard massage. 

Holistic philosophy rests on the idea that the body, mind and spirit are inextricably and intimately connected. So what we feel is connected to how we feel. A holistic massage therapist applies this philosophy to their massage practice and approaches the body as a source of historical and emotional information. The body becomes a reflection of the person as a whole and the accumulation of their emotions, belief systems, and lived experiences.

By approaching the body in this way, the full scope of a person’s health and well-being can be explored and worked with by the massage therapist through bodywork strokes and techniques.  With this full picture of the individual in mind, a massage delivers a deeper, more profound, emotional, spiritual and mental experience alongside its physical sensations. 

The Origins of Holistic Massage

Holistic massage has been used for thousands of years — and is arguably the root of all contemporary massage therapies. Practised by nearly all ancient cultures, holistic massage is believed to be one of the earliest forms of medical care used across the globe since the beginnings of civilisation. Appearing in Egyptian tomb paintings, and in the ancient Chinese text  — “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine” — it has long been recommended as a treatment for a range of illnesses, aches and pains. Ancient Greek and Roman physicians also used holistic massage as part of their fitness and exercise regimen, as well as a means of curing disease, strengthening and healing the body.

We have a Swedish doctor, Per Henrik Ling, to thank for the holistic massage therapies of today. In the nineteenth century, Dr Ling was searching for a cure for the trauma experienced by World War I soldiers suffering from shell shock and nerve injury. He combined ancient Holistic massage with modern-day bodywork techniques, to create a powerful healing therapy, which continues to be used to this day. 

In recent years, holistic massage has experienced a bit of a comeback and now hundreds of massage therapists across the world practice it.

Benefits of Holistic Massage 

The benefits of holistic massage are diverse and far-reaching. As with all massages, holistic massage improves circulation, oxygenates the body, releases tension, and eases muscle ache, but there are also many other emotional, physical and mental benefits unique to holistic massage. 

Have you ever noticed how your digestion becomes sluggish when you’re stressed? Or experienced heart palpitations after hearing bad news? Or suffered from chronic headaches and insomnia during a period of heightened tension? The mind and body are intimately connected. To heal headaches, digestive problems, or heart palpations, you need to address the mental and emotional pain at the same time. When we tackle the emotional, psychological and physical together, we’re able to tap into the sources of our pain — rather than just the symptoms. 

Some of the benefits of Holistic Massage:

  • Boost energy levels 
  • Promote blood circulation 
  • Increase flexibility and mobility 
  • Enhance skin elasticity 
  • Boost the immune system 
  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression 
  • Promote relaxation, focus, and mental clarity 
  • Ease fatigue and insomnia 
  • Alleviate past trauma 

But the biggest benefit of holistic massage is it brings your nervous system into balance and so encourages your body’s self-healing potential — so you’re better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at you! 

Book yourself a holistic massage with a massage therapist near you today and embrace the power of the mind-body connection.