What is Amma Massage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2019
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Amma massage is a type of massage therapy which is rooted in ancient Eastern medicinal techniques, although many practitioners also integrate some techniques from Western bodywork as well. This massage technique is suitable for people in varying degrees of physical condition, since it can be easily adapted to meet the needs of specific body types. Many Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners offer Amma massage, and some spas and massage studios also make Amma massage available. Some hospitals and therapy centers also keep a massage therapist on staff for clients who would like to supplement their medical treatments with Amma massage.

In Chinese, am-ma means “push-pull.” Various forms of massage and bodywork have been practiced in China for thousands of years, and many of these ancient techniques continue to be used to this day. The goal of Amma massage is to balance the flow of energy in the client's body, promoting a feeling of general good health and also addressing specific medical conditions which may be troubling the client.


Unlike most schools of Western massage, Amma massage also includes nutritional advice, herbal therapies, and other suggestions for improving the client's health. A session typically starts with a conversation between therapist and client, in which the therapist uses TCM diagnostic techniques to learn about the patient. As client and therapist talk, the therapist observes the client's body language, asks probing questions, and takes note of the client's general physical condition, paying attention to things like smell and the coating on the patient's tongue.

During the session, the client wears loose clothing or a robe and lies on a table. The massage therapist uses a range of techniques and massage strokes to perform deep tissue manipulation and to stimulate the flow of energy in the client. Therapists rely heavily on the pressure points of the body, manipulating specific points or regions to treat particular issues. At the end of the session, the client should feel more relaxed and balanced.

If you are considering an Amma massage session, it is a good idea to talk to the therapist about where he or she trained. If you are interested in herbal treatments and lifestyle recommendations, you may want to consider going to a TCM practitioner, while people who merely want to experience the varied techniques of a push-pull massage can go to a regular massage therapist who has experienced some training in Amma massage.


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Post 8

The description above of Amma Massage is a twisted form of explanation of AMMA Therapy® which is a registered trademark style founded by Great Grandmaster Tina Sohn.

It is not related to the Japanese ANMA (n not m) and the term AM-MA was coined by Dr Robert Sohn referencing very ancient Chinese wording no longer in use. You will not find AM MA in chinese - Anmo and Anma yes. AMMA is uniquely only Mrs Sohns and is getting twisted all over the internet now since she passed away and many who lost permission to teach do not have to answer to her anymore.

Post 6

I studied and graduated from the Amma Institute in san francisco back in the early nineties. They taught Amma massage exclusively. amma massage follows a strict kata, (form). the hour version covers 140 tsubos,(points) along the chi meridians with 25 hand techniques. we work our lines away from the heart.

much of the technique is a method in which the thumb is applied to the point in a four count rhythm, each successive press going a bit deeper. there are more general pressures applied at first to "open" an area up, (also a way of announcing an intention to begin to work in that area of the body, etc.) it is a comprehensive, invigorating massage that covers the whole body

except the genitals and is traditionally done through a sheet.

i have never experienced a more thorough massage and have had clients cry, get angry- feel various things during and after the massage.

learning and practicing amma changed my life for the better. if you can find a practitioner that still gives a traditional Amma massage i highly recommend giving it a try. many people claim that they feel the affects of an amma session for weeks after.

traditional japanese healing (and other) arts were made illegal after mccarthy came in at the end of WW II. in order to continue practicing Amma, (at that particular time most of these practitioners were blind) practitioners incorporated some western massage techniques and began to call what they did shiatsu which became more well known from then on.

amma has its roots in 5000 years of japanese (and chinese of course) medicine. chinese doctors, before they learned to learn about applying acupuncture needles would learn how to do amma. the points covered are the same points that acupuncturists follow.

Post 4

Has anyone ever had an amma massage? I am really curious about how it actually works, or if it actually works, because it sounds fantastic, but I'd like to hear from some people who have had one before I go to get one myself.

Has anybody reading this had an amma massage?

Post 3

@rallenwriter -- Technically, amma is the push pull technique, whereas shiatsu is "finger massage", that is, a massage that involves only the palms, fingers, and thumbs.

However, many practitioners offer amma shiatsu massages in which a person uses amma techniques during a shiatsu massage. During an amma shiatsu massage, a therapist will use amma diagnostics to figure out where to massage, then massage those pressure points or points in need of balance with a shiatsu technique.

So really they're not two types of massage per se -- they're more of complimentary aspects of a massage.

Post 2

What is the difference between amma massage and shiatsu massage?

Post 1

I've also started learning about Amma Massage myself. It's really interesting!

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