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The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By

The Basics of Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy 101

(With Emphasis on the Philippines)

by Eunice

This article/report is not intended to replace any seminars, workshops or trainings that are being

taught by schools, associations, trainers, etc. but is intended to give a glimpse of massage therapy

and present it in its most basic context. As part of alternative/complementary/integrative medicine, it

should be accepted with an open heart and mind. As in all my writings, it is presented in a

contemporary style and format with a focus on the Philippines and how it is practiced in this wonderful

country. Therefore, not dogmatic in itself.

Ano ba talaga ang masahe? Bakit ba na uuso ang pagpapa-massage? At ano ba talaga ang mga

benepisyo nito? Masarap bang magpamasahe? Okay, first let us go back to the history of massage

and what massage was. Massage is the simplest and oldest form of medical care. Professional

therapeutic massage is an age-old healing art, which alleviates physical, mental and emotional

ailments. The practice dates back to the Chinese in 3000 BC. Other references in the Bible refer to

anointing the body with oil. In 460 BC Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine prescribed it as a

beneficial treatment for his patients. Instinctively, we humans respond to pain by rubbing or pressing

the area. Di ba pag nauntog ka hinahaplos mo agad o minamasahe unti-unti ang parte na nauntog?

So instinct na talaga natin ang mag-massage especially Filipinos. We are gifted when it comes to

touch therapy. Isa ito sa ating mga talents or gifts na bigay ng Poong Maykapal. The Philippines has

a lot of indigenous therapies to be proud of including Tapik kawayan or bamboo tapping, Dagdagay

(a form of foot massage) and more. Definitely, Filipinos excel in the area of touch therapy.

According to a combination of some State Board for Massage Therapy in the US, massage and

massage therapy is defined as the manual manipulation or mobilization to affect normalization of the

soft tissue of the human body consisting of rubbing, stroking, tapotement, pressing, shaking, or

kneading with the hands, feet, elbow, or arms, and whether or not aided by any mechanical or

electrical apparatus, appliances, or supplementary aids such as rubbing alcohol, gels, liniments,

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By antiseptics, oils, powder, creams, lotions, ointments, or other similar preparations commonly used in

this practice. Massage therapists may include adjunctive therapies such as hydrotherapy, mild

abrasives, heliotherapy, or topical preparations not classified as prescription drugs, mechanical

devices and tools that mimic or enhance manual actions, and instructed self care. Such application

may include, but is not limited to, friction, gliding, rocking, tapping, kneading, or nonspecific

stretching, whether or not aided by massage oils or the application of hot and cold treatments. The

practice of massage and bodywork is designed to promote general relaxation, enhance circulation,

improve joint mobilization and/or relieve stress and muscle tension, and to promote a general sense

of well-being. Massage therapy may be provided in response to a physician’s prescription or in

conjunction with other therapeutic modalities. A Massage and bodywork therapist "shall mean a

person who represents himself or herself to the public by any title or description of services

incorporating the words "bodywork," "massage," "massage therapist," "massage therapy," "massage

practitioner," "massagist," "masseur," "masseuse," or who engages in the practice of massage and

bodywork for a fee, monetary or otherwise.

According naman to PD 856 Chapter XIII of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Republic

of the Philippines: massage is a method wherein the superficial soft parts of the body are being

rubbed or stroked or kneaded or tapped for remedial, aesthetic or hygienic purposes. It also includes

the practice of reflexology, synchrotherapy, physical therapy, and other similar techniques that use

instruments and/or other parts of the body. So ang word na masahe ay isang napaka generalized

term to indicate that muscles are being manipulated mostly for the purpose of relaxation. Sometimes

for therapy purposes. Kaya marami tayong nakikitang mga spa na nag-o-offer ng massage at mga

home massage services din.

What are the benefits ng massage? Marami and I will only name a few (I will not explain and delve

into every single detail, suffice to know that these are the benefits, pros or advantages of getting a


It improves blood circulation and the flow of tissue fluid

It helps stimulate the flow of nutrients and oxygen to tissues

It lowers the heart and pulse rate

It detoxifies the body systems

Hasten excretion of waste products

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By

Assist in weight loss

With the right oils, massage nourishes the skin

Promotes repair and renewal of body cells

Improves muscle tone

Soothes and relaxes the nerves and aching muscles

Relieves stress and has a relaxing effect

Relieves pain in certain conditions

Creates a feeling of well-being

So as you can see napaka raming benefits ng massage. Unfortunately, there are also many medical

conditions in which massage is not appropriate. The body is being compromised by these conditions

and massage may worsen the situation. If you are not sure, check with your doctor before having a

massage. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Below are some tips, precautions and contraindications of


Edema or pagmamanas- hindi tayo pwedeng mag massage sa area na grabe ang swelling,

edema or pagmamanas. This is due to the fact na, there might be an underlying systemic

cause to this edema and as massage therapists, we do not want to aggravate the situation. It

is better if the client consults a physician first.

Fever- hindi pwedeng whole body massage kung may fever. If you have headaches and fever,

a light, gentle massage on the forehead that will just relieve the pain, can be tolerated but I do

not recommend whole body massage. Lalo na sa may lagnat at trangkaso since you will be

subjecting the client’s body working overtime in order to counteract any toxin effects at the

same time excrete them. We do not want to overwork the body as it is, at the same time, the

fever might be caused by an infection. Until that infection is being addressed to, I would like to

advice to refrain from a whole body massage.

Bruising or hematoma or pasa- It is better not to touch the bruised area.

Broken Bones- of course common sense, huwag galawin ang may pilay BUT in some cases,

yung may pilay ay nagagamot ng “hilot”. As I told you in my first paragraph, I do not want to be

dogmatic. There are some medical conditions na hindi pwede sa massage pero pwede sa

“hilot”. It’s up to your discretion.

Various heart conditions like high blood- kung high blood ka hindi ka pwede magpa masahe.

This is a no-no. Especially pag mataas talaga ang reading ng blood pressure mo.

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By

Varicose veins- especially yung talagang galit na galit. Please do not put too much pressure on

varicose veins baka pumutok yan.

Never massage directly on infected skin- example, where there are warts, herpes, boils or

where there is inflammation (pamamaga), unexplained lumps (hindi maipaliwanag na bukol),

bruises and cuts.

Pag pregnant- Although there is what we call pregnancy, maternal or prenatal massage,

general whole body massage is best avoided during the first three months of pregnancy when

the risk of miscarriage is highest.

Pag may period, menstruation (regla)- yung ibang western thought pwedeng magpa massage

kahit may menstruation, ako, I personally discourage it because as females, we sometimes

have the tendency na maging prone sa hematoma or mag bruise during our monthly period.

Also your period might come to a sudden stop after the massage session and we do not want

that since ang monthly period is considered dumi ng katawan at dapat ilabas.

Do not eat heavy right before a massage- At least two to four hours after meals

It is advisable not to drink alcoholic beverages, smoke, take a bath or expose yourself to cold

right after a massage as this will alter the temperature of your body and shock your systems.

Thus, will not be good for the over all well-being. As much as possible, hot beverages like

“ginger tea or salabat” or warm water is advisable rather than drink “iced tea”. Bakit

mahalagang hot or warm? Because after a massage, your body has been exposed to heat and

the last thing you want to do is expose yourself immediately to cold temperature. Na-sho-shock

din ang katawan so give it time to adjust. Kaya yung mga matatanda may tinatawag na “lamig”

(or what is scientifically referred to as nodules). There could be some truth in it, kasi nga

naman pag galing sa mainit ine-expose natin ang katawan agad sa malamig eh di talagang

yung mga pores natin mag-tra-trap ng lamig sa katawan dahil open sila due to exposure to

warmth. At kahit naman sino siguro hindi maganda ang sudden changes of temperature di ba?

Be open to your massage therapist- if you feel any discomfort say so, if they need to slow

down the speed of movements, lighten the pressure or try a massage technique needs to be

changed say so and feel free to give feedbacks. Huwag mong tiisin kung nasasaktan ka na.

When asked about any health-related information give your therapist accurate health

information, do not withhold anything that is worthy of mentioning.

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By

A professional massage therapist should be able to ask you of your medical history (amongst

other things): if you have any allergies, a history of high blood pressure, what area would you

like to focus on, etc. Through the information/data you have given them, they will also be able

to assess the right type of massage/pressure for you or if they should refer you to another

health care provider.

Frequency/Duration- Be informed that massage has its greatest benefits over time. So, the

more regular your massage is, the better you will feel in due time and the more quickly the

body will respond to the therapy. For general preventive health maintenance, a 60-minute

massage every two weeks or at least once every fifteen days is the ideal frequency. In cases

of specific problems or dysfunction, more often is recommended (once every four days at the

most), until an appropriate outcome is achieved.

When it comes to legalities naman ano ang dapat mong malaman? Okay, so in the Philippines, PD

856 of Chapter XIII Sec. 9.1.1 states that no person is authorized to practice massage in the

Philippines without holding a valid certificate of registration for masseur issued by the Committee of

Examiners for Masseurs and approved by the Secretary of Health. Meaning, if we are to be strict,

technical and dogmatic, hindi pwedeng mag massage ang isang tao if you are not licensed.

Especially kung ito ang iyong source of income. Not unless you are under the direct supervision of a

Licensed Massage Therapist. I also have a similar article on how to be a Licensed Massage

Therapist and it is found in the following links:

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By But it doesn’t mean na kung hindi licensed ang iyong massage therapist ay hindi na siya magaling.

Hindi rin ibig sabihin na kung may license yung iyong massage therapist ay magaling siya mag

masahe. Marami tayong magagaling na nag-ma-massage but they are not licensed. The best self-

regulation here is for the massage therapist to know and assess the client well and adopt certain

techniques in massage that would help the client and not harm them in any way. Yun lang. Generally

naman ang massage is non-invasive eh so no worries. We do not need to worry as massage has

been used centuries and centuries ago.

There are also more than 400++ types of massage and we will only discuss yung mga pinaka-

common. There are massage therapies that differs in:

1. Pressure - may madiin, may magaan, may medium pressure lang

2. Techniques- may inaapakan, may binubuhat, may ini-i-stretch, atbp.

3. And History- depende sa country of origin

4. As well as differentiation in the type of lubricant that massage therapists use. Sometimes, they

use oil, cream, gel, lotion, powder or none at all. So it all depends on the type (or sometimes

referred to as modality) of massage and the massage therapist or client’s preference.

Whatever one has to use, it has to have a beneficial effect to the body.

5. Client preparation- if they need to be half-naked, clothed or fully-clothed. Generally, only (as

applicable) shorts with underwear are worn. Unless otherwise indicated.

6. Time or Duration- massage therapies generally runs an hour

Acupressure- This type of massage technique, are for certain areas lang, it is not designed as a

whole body massage or application (otherwise you might mistake this as a Shiatsu) and it can be

applied with our without lubrication, medium to hard ang pressure. The massage therapist may or

may not use wooden sticks for massage, generally they use their fingers and thumbs.

Aromatherapy Massage or Aromassage- this is being incorporated into many massage modalities. As

long as the massage therapist is using authentic (not synthetic) organic oils. This is essential oil/s

blended with a carrier oil, pwede. So a Swedish massage can be an aromatherapy Swedish massage

if the oils used are true aromatherapy oils and not synthetic ones. If these oils are plant-based it can

also be considered Phytotherapy incorporated into massage. How can you be sure if its really organic

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By and natural? Buy from reliable, credible sources and FYI, these oils are not cheap. Beware of

imitations and cheap oils. Not unless you want mineral oils.

Chair Massage or On-Site Chair Massage- This type can be performed sitting upright on a stool or a

low backed chair or a professional massage chair. This can be done in just five, ten, fifteen minutes to

nearly an hour. Most commonly done for 30 minutes. Focuses on the back and shoulder area, nape

and head. Normally uses cream as lubricant and client is fully clothed. This can be incorporated with

acupressure, hand reflexology or Indian Head massage. Pag Indian head massage, this can include

the back, shoulders, arms/hands, nape/neck, head/scalp and face.

Deep Tissue- techniques here include cross-fiber friction, stretching, trigger-point release - as the

name implies, deep, meaning do not expect a gentle pressure here and this is not a massage for

relaxation but to ease aching muscles and knots. It is basically used to enhance sports performance

and recuperation. It’s an effective component of any training program. Often it is integrated with other

massage methods, it may or may not be whole body massage as the therapist may focus on certain

areas that are being specifically used in sports. Like the groin and legs if the client is a runner. It also

involves some form of stretching and range of motion techniques. Duration is normally one hour to

two hours. The difference between Deep Tissue and Sports massage is that, sports massage use this

before sports for a major event to bring blood to critical parts of the body and loosen muscles. As this

is done, athletes visualize their best performance, supporting muscle memory that helps maximize

their training and effort.

Geriatric Massage- the opposite of infant or Pediatric has some form of gentle techniques specific to

ease joint pains and other chronological symptoms of aging.

Hilot- there is a lot of conceptions (and misconceptions) regarding Filipino traditional hilot. One hilot

may start in the back area and another in the head area and still another hilot in the leg area. In older

generations, hilot is not sought after if a person is not sick. Historically, hilot is considered a healing

modality. The techniques here are not important but the focus is the persona and energy that the

manghi-hilot will impart. Herbal application with coconut oil is common. Sometimes, Sampaguita oil

and ylang-ylang are being blended with the coconut oil. Other techniques or practice can add up to

the experience like pulse reading, skin analysis, thermal diagnosis, banyos, suob or oslob (steam

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By inhalation of aromatic herbs) amongst others. It can run from an hour to more than two hours. Hilot is

not only relaxing but a healing therapy in itself. I suggest every Filipino to try this out so we will be

able to appreciate our culture and heritage in this modality. I wrote an article on Philippine Indigenous

Therapies, with a Focus on Hilot and you can view, read, download and print it for FREE at this link:

Hot Stone Massage- these are warm smooth stones applied either before or during the massage. It

can be integrated into some types of massage too. The therapist typically employs Swedish massage

techniques with the stones placed on your spine, palms of your hands and in between your toes, etc.

It runs from an hour to two hours. Expect that this is more expensive than a typical massage because

of the required preparation needed and the duration. These stones may also be used to massage

certain areas of your body. A variation of this is the herbal ball massage common in Thailand. Where

the herbal ball contains certain herbs, heated and applied on certain areas especially the back and

shoulders to relieve aches and pains. If you have persistent back pain, I recommend this type of

massage (only if there is no underlying cause, just muscular in origin). It may seem that it’s a wise

idea to buy mechanically polished stones but there should be a lot of factors in choosing the right

stone. Mechanically polished stones are NOT recommended because mechanical polishing seals up

the stone’s surface. It’s preferable to get them from nature where they’ve been polished to perfection

by streams and oceans.

Infant or Baby or Pediatric Massage- as the name implies, its a gentle massage is done on kids,

children and babies. This is a great way for babies to get started on a life-long enjoyment of massage

therapy. It provides stimulation of the nervous system, touch and supports the parent-child bonding.

Manual Lymph Drainage or Lymphatic Drainage Massage- sometimes referred to as Slimming

massage or Anti-cellulite massage because of its pumping and suction techniques to improve the flow

of lymph by using light and rhythmic strokes. A gentle form of massage din, duration is one hour to 2

hours depending on the spa, massage clinic or wellness center.

Pregnancy, Maternal or Maternity or Prenatal Massage- this is another variation of Swedish massage

but focusing on relieving the discomforts of pregnancy.

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By Reflexology- This is a popular and ancient form of Chinese Bodywork. If we are to be technical about

this type or massage, reflexology only concerns itself focusing on the feet, hands and ears, not the

whole body. So technically speaking, there is no such thing as whole body reflexology. If you have to

have an authentic reflexology, it only concentrates itself on the hands, feet and ears. Today, this is

incorporated into many massage modalities and even some spa menu like foot and hand spa. This is

a medium to deep compression massage which uses thumb and finger pressure (but the therapist

may use instruments and lubricants to aid in the process sometimes) as there are specific points in

the hands, feet and ears that correspond to the nerve endings of a particular organ or muscle. It is

said that if your reflexologist comes to a tender spot on one of those extremities, pay heed to the

organ or system to which it maybe connected. It also might signify health concerns like problems in

organs or internal systems.

Relaxation, Classical, European or Swedish Massage- generally a gentle to medium pressured

massage that uses lubricants and a system of gliding strokes, kneading and friction techniques

generally in the direction of the blood flow toward the heart. This is the most common form of

massage. Typically runs for one hour only. This is my recommended massage for first timers.

There is a bit of misnomer here because the name Swedish massage, was neither invented by a

Swede nor developed in Sweden, despite massage therapy books that say so. It was a Dutch

practitioner Johan George Mexger (1838-1909) who gets the credit for adopting the French names

that define the basic massage strokes- effleurage, petrissage, friction and tapotement- and

systematizing them into what would most accurately be called Classic massage. In any case, this

technique is the foundation for most massage practice today.

Shiatsu- is a Japanese form of whole body, medium to hard pressure, clothed massage, similar to a

Thai massage in that, it is done on a floor mat using the therapist’s finger, knuckles or thumb. May

run from one to two hours long. Techniques may include: pounding, stretching, rocking and

manipulation techniques. Pressure maybe applied by the use of forearms, elbows, palms, feet and

knees. Meanwhile, Ashiatsu uses the bare feet of the therapist while the therapist hold on to an

oriental bar hanging on the ceiling. While Watsu (Water-Shiatsu) is Shiatsu done in water. So you

see, massage also evolves in time.

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By Signature Massage- specialized techniques are specific only to that spa and that the massage maybe

a combination of three or more massage modalities. May run from thirty minutes, an hour or two

hours long.

Thai Massage or Nuad Bo Ram- this is a more rigorous type as compared with other forms of

massage because Thai massage employs a series of ranges of motion as well as combine active and

passive movements of joints. Therefore this is not recommended for those who have difficulty in

stretching or who has bone problems as this employs mostly stretching techniques. It is generally

performed on a comfortable floor mat to allow maximum mobility that would allow the therapist to

utilize their body weight. The client is fully clothed and no lubricant is required. Western style requires

the client to undress for oils to be applied on the body and the massage is most often performed on a

massage table. Typically this runs from one to two hours long.

Although massage lost some of its value and prestige with the unsavory image created by “massage

parlors” and “sauna bath establishments”, this image is now fading as awareness of the value and

therapeutic properties of massage grows. Thanks to the proliferation of day spas all around, massage

therapy is no longer viewed as a sexual service but a way to rejuvenate mind and body. So,

professional massage therapists may terminate a session because of any illicit or sexually suggestive

remarks or advances from the client. Although not a substitute for medical care, massage can reduce

or eliminate the need for medication and surgery. Massage today is not only used for humans but

pets and animals as well. A variety of massage techniques are now being incorporated into different

programs and alternative/complementary therapies including osteopathy, chiropathy, etc. It has now

gained popularity not only with well-off individuals but the common people as well. Making wellness a

thing for everyone and not only for those who has the money.

As what I have said, massage therapy also evolves with time, you can combine techniques, you can

adjust the pressure or make your own steps. There will be new discoveries everyday so keep an

open mind. We do not have to be dogmatic or too strict on steps and procedures, as long as the

result is a better, rejuvenated client, then I do not think there is anything wrong with that. There are

also a lot of other forms of massage that I have not mentioned. But these are all for now. In short,

there is a lot to learn out there and enjoy from the many variations of massage therapies.

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By So, what are you waiting for? Go to your nearest spa, massage clinic or call up a home massage

service and try their massage today!


The first informational blog regarding spa, massage therapy, beauty and wellness with a focus on the Philippines. Eunice’s blog and updates are found in this link

Some articles written by Eunice, which you can view, read, download and print for FREE. Just click on the links:

What term should really be used? Client, Patient, Customer, At Iba Pa Masseur, Massagist, Massage Therapist, At Iba Pa

Is the spa, massage therapy and wellness industry included in the Top Businesses to start in these times of global financial challenges? Find out in this article so you can adopt and perhaps change your business into profitable ones:

Top Businesses to Start in Uncertain Times/Sluggish Economy

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Do you want to know the right type of massage for you? Do you you want to know the common types of massage and how it is practiced? This article will give you the glimpse of massage therapies locally and abroad:

The Basics of Massage Therapy (Massage 101)

Do you want to know how much capital you need to start your own spa, massage clinic or wellness center? Do you want to know what it is like being a spa owner? Do you want to be (really) prepared before you shell out money into putting up your own spa, massage clinic or wellness center? Do you want to know what steps you have to take before putting up your own business in this field? How to Start, Begin or Open a Spa, Massage Clinic or Wellness Center

Are you tired of putting up with sexually charged clients? Do you know how to handle sexual harassment in the spa and massage therapy setting? Then this article will definitely help you:

Preventing/ Avoiding Sexual Advances during a Spa or Massage session50 ways of Handling Client Advances

The Basics of Massage Therapy with Emphasis on the Philippines Massage 101 By

Do you want to know about Hilot, Dagdagay and other indigenous therapies of the Philippines? If yes, then read on!

A Wee-bit of Philippine Indigenous Therapies with a Focus on Hilot

Rules and Regulations on How to Become a Licensed Massage Therapist in the Philippines through the help

of the Department of Health, here is the new update:

How to Be a Licensed Massage Therapist in the Philippines

Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Assessment

On anti-aging and Physical Appearances

How to renew a Massage Therapy License in the Philippines:

If you want to be updated of spa, massage and wellness activities and events or be a part of a support group What is Meetup all about?

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