Russian Massage Therapy

Russian Massage in the U.S. sometimes referred to as Russian “Circulatory Massage”, is a system of unique therapeutic massage techniques developed in the former Soviet Union.  There is actually no such term as “Russian Massage” in Russia though the tradition of massage is long and revered.  Unlike other massage therapy styles, modern Russian Massage is based on the “physiology of a dysfunction” rather than on the anatomy as the principal guideline for treatment.

Russian Massage dramatically increases the body’s circulation to promote pain relief and healing, improves functioning of the nervous system, immune system, and respiratory system and creates a feeling of health and well-being. It is used virtually 100% of the time in combination with other medical specialties in Russia to heal a specific disease, condition, or injury based on medical research over a century old.

The main techniques of Russian massage are divided into four main groups: stroking, rubbing, kneading, and vibration. It focuses on the use of friction and stroking to generate heat within the body and one unique massage technique involves a distinctive slapping technique known as “percussion,” which loosens muscular adhesions.  This, combined with vibration, is employed to ease muscle pain and stiffness in general, along with relieving mental stress, and providing other targeted benefits.

The Russian system of massage believes that eliciting pain into a treatment (e.g., cross-fiber, trigger point work) is counter-productive to its principles and four negative consequences occur when this happens:

  1. Heart rate increases;
  2. Blood pressure increases;
  3. The body’s fascia constricts;
  4. The body secretes adrenaline (which if not used in the fight or flight mechanism, is then reabsorbed by the patient to dramatically weaken the immune system. This is considered the worst of the four effects, according to the Russian model).

Russian massage techniques can involve slower, softer, rhythmic motions for the elderly or infirm as well as faster strokes for healthy individuals and athletes.   Russian infant massage, a subset of Russian Massage, developed originally in the late 18th century, is very quick and light, involving fast and superficial brushing strokes over the skin using the fingers and no pressure. This is followed by swift and gentle spiral rubbing with the pads of the fingers. Each body part is massaged for one to two minutes, and the full procedure does not exceed 10 minutes. The goal of Russian infant massage is to increase blood circulation to the periphery, which in turn is believed to promote better physical and mental development of the child.