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Lomilomi and Indigenous Massage of Oceania

by Aaron Finch

Lomilomi is a North American massage technique that has been practiced for generations by Hawaiians and other indigenous people of Oceania. It is often called “Hawaiian Massage” as well as “Treatment of the Surfers”. Lomilomi dates back to at least the 18th century, according to legend. The word ‘lomi’ is derived from ‘lolomi’, meaning “to rub or polish”.Refresh 24 spa

Hawaii is renowned for sports-related injuries due to its terrain with many steep mountainous hikes and trails, so lomilomi is most often associated with patients who are athletes. Lomilomi can be used to treat any ailment, however.

 It is gaining recognition as a complementary medicine practice to traditional health care and is often used in conjunction with other therapies such as traditional Chinese massage and yoga.

Lomilomi is used today for its relaxation and stress-relieving properties as well as for rehabilitation of injuries sustained in athletics or other physically demanding occupations. Lomilomi therapy usually focuses on the back, shoulders, arms, legs and feet with the client lying face down or seated in a chair while the therapist uses rhythmic movements to knead, rub, squeeze and stretch the muscles of the body. The therapist’s hands press deeper into the muscles when they encounter tender areas.

Lomilomi and Indigenous Massage of Oceania :

1. Lomilomi was born in Hawaii during the 18th century. 

A Hawaiian called ‘Anna Kamoo’ first shared the art of Lomi Lomi with the local people. Since then, the name Lomilomi has evolved over time to include “tui loma’e” which means “to massage from back to front” and “moli lomi”, which means “to massage from front to back”.

2. Lomilomi has been practiced for more than 100 years in different cultures.

 Lomilomi was widely known as ‘Hawaiian Massage’ before becoming a form of traditional medicine for surfers who experienced stress, pain and injuries caused by surfing. 

In 1975, David M. Wong, a masseur, returned to Hawaii after 20 years of touring through the mainland United States. He learned how to massage from an old Hawaiian and became one of the first therapists to offer Lomi Lomi in Hawaii. He considered it as an alternative way to help heal chronic back pain. 

3. Lomilomi has a lot of benefits for health.

According to the International Journal of Medical Anthropology and Ethnography, Lomilomi can help to reduce stress and anxiety, relieve temporary back pain, ease muscle tension and even help sinusitis.

4. Lomilomi is not a new massage method.

It’s interesting to know how the history of massage and Lomilomi began.

The use of therapeutic touch (TT) has been a popular practice in Hawaii since the early 1900s. TT is one kind of Lomi Lomi massage which focuses on assessing the energy flow and circulatory system to identify areas where energy can be blocked or disrupted. TT or Lomilomi focuses on connecting with the body by using an ungloved hand to assess, compress, guide and stimulate different areas of the client’s body. 

5. Lomilomi has been widespread in Hawaii for a long time.

Lomilomi massage was once used in Hawaii to treat injuries caused by surfing. It was then used for celebratory occasions such as weddings or housewarmings. Today, Lomilomi is becoming a more common practice with the rise of spa retreats and luxury spas that offer spa services alongside Lomilomi treatment.

6. Lomilomi uses fragrant plant oils and other ingredients for skin care during massage.

Lomilomi uses various massage methods and instruments to create a range of sensations such as compression, friction, gliding, tapping and vibration. In a traditional Lomilomi massage, the therapist will start with light pressure on the back to loosen any tension then move into deeper pressure on the muscles. The therapist will use gentle but firm pressure with their fingers and palms to stimulate blood flow.

7. Lomilomi is widely used in Hawaii today as a type of massage or spa therapy.

People use Lomilomi for relaxation, pain relief and stress management . Lomilomi is also offered at spas, salons and massage studios throughout America. In Hawaii, you can find the Lomi Lomi massage specifically in Waikiki since it’s a popular tourist destination.

8. Lomilomi has been very popular in Hawaii since ancient times.

Today, lomilomi is used as a form of physical therapy for patients with muscle pain or injuries after certain exercises or sports related activities . It is one of the most popular spa therapies offered by spas and salons from the USA to Europe .

9. Lomilomi is becoming a mainstream spa treatment, with many treatments and spas offering it to their customers.

Today, Lomilomi is being used as a form of therapy for relaxing, pain relief as well as stress management. Lomilomi massage is widely offered in spas and salons in USA, Europe and Asia 

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