Today, Anma is regarded as a form of Japanese massage and is used in some forms of Japanese martial arts. Anma massage involves stroking, kneading, pressure, vibration, percussion, and squeezing techniques. Variations of Anma have led to the emergence of related massage therapies such as Shiatsu, Tuina, and Swedish massage.
Anma Massage vs. Swedish Massage
While some of the Anma techniques appear similar to Swedish massage, the major difference is the direction of massage strokes delivery: Anma strokes are directed away from the heart (centrifugal) while Swedish massage strokes are directed towards the heart (centripetal). Another difference between Anma and Swedish massage is that the former is administered through clothing without the use of lubricants, while Swedish massage is administered directly on the skin and often utilizes lubricants such as oils or lotions.
How Anma Treatment Works
Tension in the body is caused by a buildup of lactic acid resulting from fatigue, trauma, stress, chemical imbalances, or poor circulation. Anma therapy uses special techniques to stimulate key points (Tsubo) on the surface of the skin to promote the body’s natural self-healing abilities. When these points are stimulated, muscular tension is released, which facilitates the circulation of blood and energy and the release and elimination of toxins. The sensitivity of the practitioner’s hands is considered crucial for the proper application of this technique.
Nine Anma Manipulation Categories
The manipulations in Anma involve nine different categories or sections of the body, each of which results in different effects that contribute to health. Because Anma offers spiritual as well as physical benefits, the massage therapist’s health is also optimized during the treatment.
The nine categories, directed at Tsubo (vital points) and Keiraku (meridian energy pathways) of the body are:
- Keisatsu Ho (Anbu Ho) – Light stroking (also called Anbu Ho)
- Kyosatsu Ho (Annetsu Ho) – Pressured rotation/stroking
- Junen Ho (Junetsu Ho) – Kneading
- Appaku Ho – Pressure
- Shinsen Ho – Vibration
- Haaku Ho – Gripping/squeezing
- Koda Ho – Percussion
- Kyokute Ho – Bending hand percussion
- Undo Ho – Stretching and rehabilitation (independently, with therapist, or using equipment)
Benefits of Anma Massage Treatment
- Reduces tension
- Increases circulation
- Balances the body
- Calms irritated nerves
- Normalizes sluggish bodily functions
- Revives and rejuvenates the body
- Treats painful conditions that result from blockages of chi energy within the acupressure meridian system
Oriental Medicine: Conditions Treated by Anma Massage
Anma techniques are used to prevent and reduce symptoms in the following conditions:
- Sports injuries
- Respiratory disorders
- Blood pressure abnormalities
- Gastrointestinal irritation
- Menstrual irregularity
Finding an Asian Massage Therapist
Fortunately, Anma is available at many spas that offer Asian massage therapies. To find a trusted professional practitioner in your area, click here.
Note: Anma should not be used with patients who have contagious illnesses or skin infections. Patients who recently had surgery should wait until healing is underway before using Anma. After injury or trauma, Anma is most effective when used within 24-48 hours of the injury and preferably before any pain medications have been administered.