Russian massage is based on techniques that have been used extensively in Russia for over 100 years, and is based on the philosophy that the body can learn to heal, relax and repair itself.
Russian massage uses many unusual techniques, but they do use similar terms to Swedish styles. So for example they use the terms friction and tapotement, but the techniques they use are very different to those used in other styles of massage.
The Russian massage style of tapotement is less intrusive than the Swedish style, covers a larger surface area and is used to increase blood flow to the muscles. The Russian style also uses some friction techniques, both that are very deep tissue styles of massage. The “sawing” technique is an intense style that adds a lot of heat to the muscles and is helpful for chronic muscular problems.
The cresting technique is also unique to this style and again is a friction technique. Often used in sports massage, this technique again provides lots of heat to the muscles.
Raking is also a common technique and is used along the erector spinae muscles and also the intercostal muscles, allowing for deep tissue manipulation of these muscles.
However there are also some more gentle, relaxation styles of massage in the Russian style including the rocking of the body. During this style, the client’s body is moved and rocked a lot, with the therapist using the client’s body.
So when massaging the muscles in the calf, the therapist will pick up the leg and rock it back and forth, using the weight of the muscle to massage the attachment points. This allows for a less intrusive style and allows the therapist to work with the body, not against it.
Russian deep tissue massage is also known as being very easy on the therapist’s body and therefore helps extend the therapists working life. It does not use thumbs at all and a big part of the massage is protection of the therapist’s body. Russian therapists believe that sometimes giving 50% energy to a client will have a better effect than giving 100%.
All of the techniques including friction and cresting use the weight of the therapist’s body to provide the massage, rather than stressing the therapist’s thumbs and hands.
This style of massage has developed in Russia over the last century and is used extensively in hospitals, with patients often being prescribed a series of massages during their stay. Similarly, doctors in Russia regularly use massage therapy in their treatment of patients. It has only been used in the West rarely and is not commonly available.