Posted by Lee-ann Harder on Monday, January 12, 2015


For my first blog this year I thought I would speak in detail about the treatment of Indian Head Massage.

Unlike most other massages Indian Head Massage is done with a client seated and fully clothed in a low back chair. For some, in fact, for a good many people, it is a great relief to learn they won't have to change or be undressed during a treatment. Modesty is still close to the heart for some!. Some therapists offer T-shirts (especially nice if people are wearing dress clothes) or a robe depending on where the treatment is being delivered. If clients have pre booked their treatment the therapist will often advise them to wear comfortable clothing. Long or short sleeved, cotton T-shirst have been found to be the most suited.

Many people (including myself initially) might find it hard to imagine how one can become relaxed and restored receiving a treatment while being sat in a chair. To date, since 2004, I have delivered over 1000 treatments of Indian Head Massage and I can promise you people relax very well during and following this treatment. Only a very small percentage of those 1000 felt that they didn't relax.  I suspect what might have interfered with their ability to enjoy this is that some people have preconceived notions that because they are sitting upright they won't relax. The number of people who have felt this way is about 1%. 10 of 1000. 

There are over 46 distinct moves administered in an Indian Head Massage treatment. Each of these moves are as unique to the newly trained therapist as they are to clients receiving these. The system of moves is sequential and done the same way (or should be) each time you receive a treatment. I have had people from various parts of Canada seek me out for a treatment of Indian Head Massage once they knew it was from the same lineage they had had back in England. Yes, that was as surprising to me as it is to you. 

Lets talk about what you can expect during an Indian Head Massage Treatment

Firstly the therapist will begin with some deep breathing (who can't benefit from a few big breaths these days?) then he/she invites the client to do the same. The therapist carefully places their hands on the client's head to further help induce this initial relaxation. 

The rest of the moves are done as follows:  (Please note the timelines shown are when a practitioner is proficient - initially this treatment will take a bit longer - up to 20 minutes more.)

About 7 minutes is spent on the opening moves,  upper back and top of the shoulders. The muscles most affected in these moves are the Trapezius, the Rhomboids (minor and major) the Levator Scapulae and the origins of the Deltoid muscles. Following this, a set of moves administered on the arms (about 5 minutes) working primarily on the upper arms. The affected muscles are the Triceps, Biceps, Brachialis and Deltoid Muscles and through one final move, a shoulder lift, the entire shoulder girdle is loosened.The next area worked on is the back and sides of the neck. This takes about 5 minutes. The muscles most affected here are the Levator Scapulae, the Splenus Captious, Splenus Cervicus, Semispinalis Capitis, Suboccipital Muscles and the insertions of the Occipitalis muscle.  The next area worked in is the head and this takes about 5 minutes.The muscles most affected are the Galea Aponerotica (Also called the Epicranial Aponeurosis), the Frontalis, the Temporoparietalis, the Occipitalis. The next area worked on is the face which takes about 4 minutes and includes several pressure points on specific muscles of the face, sinus release moves and ear reflexology. The closing and balancing moves are about 4 minutes. The entire treatment takes 30 minutes. The option of the hair oil add-on following the treatment is about 5 minutes. Some facilities offer a hot towel (for the oiled hair) and a tea to sip on following the treatment if the oil is added.

Although we are working on specific muscles or muscle groups in each area we are actually causing numerous reactions to many systems in the body. Both the lymphatic and the circulatory systems are stimulated by the moves which can improve the hydration of the fascia ( a type of connective tissue that provides important glide to the working muscles and support to the organs). From these actions the 2 branches of the Autonomic Nervous System are affected. The body moves from fright and flight (Sympathetic) to rest and digest (Parasympathetic) and the entire body is better able to do the repair worked as needed. Breathing is improved which means the the body is better oxygenated which can in turn lower elevated blood pressure. Other vital organs are also affected and this can even mean a washroom visit that was long overdue. These are just some of the expected outcomes. The power of touch has many known and unknown positive effects on the body, mind and spirit but those that might be the most profoundly importantly to us these days is to feel both centred and grounded. 

The amazing thing about our bodies is that given the right stimulus it will naturally move towards healing and repair of itself. Indian Head Massage is a therapy that was designed to invoke and support that innate process. This treatment is well suited to most and is mobile. Indian Head Massage can literally be done anywhere a low back chair can be set up and it’s relatively quiet. I’ve done this treatment under the trees in parks, on mountains tops (no chair, but we improvised), on hundreds of outdoor decks and by many types of waterways. Nature is a wonderful adjunct to an Indian Head Massage if the weather and conditions permit for this to happen.  

Whether you are an aspiring therapist or well seasoned therapist this is a treatment you will use often as a stand alone or you can use in conjunction with other treatments. The best part of Indian Head Massage is that unlike many other therapies, Indian Head Massage will also cause you, the therapist, to feel more relaxed and rejuvenated. 

This balancing treatment also blends well with Indian Foot Massage. To receive treatments view our Certified TherapistsPage and find a therapist near you. If you would like to book with Lee-ann please use the Contact Us page to set up an appointment. 

Tags: indian head massage  massage  therapies 
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