What is a Lomi Lomi Massage?

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What is a lomi lomi massage, exactly?

This traditional Hawaiian massage is exclusive to Hawaiian culture and has been practiced for generations. It combines different massage techniques like a Swedish massage and the usage of breathing and dance to soothe the body.

Inspired by Huna philosophy, lomi lomi traditional Hawaiian massage aids the healing process, strengthens body muscles, and can help you relax after a long and stressful day or week.

In this article, we’ll take a close look at the lomi lomi massage technique and explain what’s so special about it!

In the Hawaiian language, Lomi literally means “to soothe or rub” with an outstretched hand like that of a cat’s paws. And the repetition of “lomi” reinforces the uniqueness and special effect it has.

In the Hawaiian language, Lomi literally means “to soothe or rub” with an outstretched hand like that of a cat’s paws. And the repetition of “lomi” reinforces the uniqueness and special effect it has.

What Is Lomi Lomi Massage?

Hawaii has a close-knit culture, and many aspects of the culture are hidden from the outside world.

But as the tourism sector opened up and welcomed visitors from the mainland US and the rest of the world, many aspects of Hawaii’s culture began to unfurl, and so did the traditional massage therapy of the island.

The ancient dance massage has become very popular and spread to other parts of the continent, the Caribbean islands, and the rest of the world.

The use of elbows, knees, knuckles, feet, fingers, and elbows to perform the massage therapy may seem unconventional compared to others like the Swedish massage, but beneficiaries don’t mind because of the positive effect it has on the body.

The use of elbows, knees, knuckles, feet, fingers, and elbows to perform the massage therapy may seem unconventional compared to others like the Swedish massage, but beneficiaries don’t mind because of the positive effect it has on the body.

This is why many Island visitors make it a habit to visit at least one massage therapy parlor to enjoy the rich experience.

But there is more to this ancient therapeutic practice you should know.

A Brief History of The Lomi Lomi Massage

As we pointed out at the beginning of the article, this massage technique can be traced back to ancient times by Hawaiian massage masters before the dawn of modern civilization.

According to history, traditional Lomi Lomi was not originally a traditional practice of the locals but was brought to them across the ocean by ancient Polynesians.

The Polynesians were famous sailors who were perhaps the first group of people to build ships that could travel long distances.

However, after learning the art from the Polynesians, the Hawaiian massage therapists then took it a step further to incorporate unique styles and rhythmic strokes into the art to relieve muscle tension.

Some of their inclusions were the Kahuna and Shama practices used by spiritual healers to exorcise spirits from the afflicted.

This practice continued to evolve after that for more than 100 years on the island, with very little known of it to the outside world.

As time went on, new practices and techniques were incorporated by the Hawaiian massage therapists, and today, the massage has four different approaches, namely:

  • Olohe Lua (practiced by Martial Art masters)
  • As a therapeutic massage for families
  • As a healing massage for native healers
  • To improve digestion by ruling chiefs

The name of Lomi Lomi practitioners is called Ka po’e Lomi Lomi, which means “The massage people”. Later in 1920, it was used to describe osteopathic doctors and massage therapists.

But before the 20th century, it was banned at some point by colonial rulers in 1820 who considered it a heathen practice because of the rituals involved. Despite the ban, this restorative massage remained popular and continues to be practiced by natives of the island who refused to abandon their rich traditions.

In no time, foreigners began to embrace the practice as well, so in 2001, the ban was lifted but only certified practitioners by the Hawaiian medical board could perform the massage.

What To Expect At A Lomi Lomi Massage Parlor

Due to the different approaches to massage, you may be taken aback if you decide to visit a massage parlor for a lomi lomi massage! So in this section, we want to show you what to expect when you visit any of the centers in Hawaii.

1. It Starts With A Prayer

The first thing you should note is that the massage will start with a silent prayer as the healer sets an intention for the massage. The intention is to ask the spirits to make the massage a successful one and elicit healing.

2. Forearm Movements

Another feature of this massage is the use of forearm movement to perform flowing strokes by massage therapists. The hands, fingers, and elbows are also used to perform the massage.

In some cases, the feet are used as well. The massage therapist will work on the different parts of the body rather than focusing on one body part at a time, as is synonymous with many other massage techniques.

You may or may not be on a massage table or massage bed during the experience.

3. Humming And Chanting

Lomi Lomi is not done in silence but involves clam humming and chanting by the massage therapist. This ancient practice has spiritual connotations to it.

While skeptics doubt all things spiritual, the natives hold this to be true. But the humming and chanting help the body and senses to calm down.

4. You will be mostly naked

This unique healing massage practice is done in Hawaiian islands with little or no clothes on, but for modesty, a little towel will be given to you to cover your private parts (no accidents, please!).

Benefits Of A Lomi Lomi Massage

Despite the unconventional massage methods amidst the humming and the chanting, the practical remains widely accepted by natives and foreigners

 Today, there are Lomi Lomi massage parlors in many other countries, spreading the practice. Most Lomi Lomi experts come from a long line of healers and can trace their ancestry back by several generations.

Here are some of the benefits of having a lomi lomi massage.

1. Increased Blood Circulation

Blood is supposed to flow freely across every part of the body unhindered, but this is not always the case for many of us. Poor posture, stress, and other harmful practices can reduce blood circulation in our bodies. A lomi lomi massage can correct that.

By working every area of your body, including the veins and narrows, these passageways will become flexible and functional again to trigger blood flow.

2. Toxin Removal

Lomi lomi massage can supposedly serve as a toxin removal to eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Toxins actually make us sick when they accumulate considerably, but when you have a lomi lomi massage, it triggers your body organs to shed them through sweat.

Of course, there’s no proof of this, but does it matter, really?

3. Strengthens Muscles

It strengthens the muscles and eliminates pain. Are you feeling muscle weakness in your arms, legs, or thighs? Or maybe you suffered a sprained ankle recently, and the pain has persisted ever since?

A lomi lomi massage may be just what you need to nurse your body back to health! Leave the TENS unit at home.

4. Stimulate The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is considered to be the body’s drainage system. Toxins and other harmful matter that may wreak havoc on your system are drained out by this internal organ. Lomi lomi massage stimulates this organ and triggers a reaction to eject unwanted waste from your body.

Again, there is little proof of this, but it doesn’t really matter.

5. Reduce The Chances Of Stroke

Many practitioners of lomi lomi massage argue that regular massaging reduces the chances of stroke. Destressing the body and flexing body muscles and organs are some of the ways stroke is prevented.

Also, note that the practice targets the back and waist areas, including the arms and legs, which are pressure points.

Unsurprisingly, there haven’t actually been studies of this, but again, it sounds good to most people.

6. Improved Flexibility

Do you find it hard to flex your muscles or maintain a certain posture because of a rigid muscle? If you experience such, you will find motion incredibly difficult. An accumulation of stressed muscles is a leading cause of this.

A lomi lomi massage can improve your flexibility and motion in general, so you can perform tasks as swiftly as possible.

Where To Go For A Lomi Lomi Massage

Finding a massage center offering this type of massage is easy, but unfortunately, many of them don’t have trained experts — particularly if you’re not in Hawaii!

Just because a massage center offers this type of massage doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same thing you get on the Big Island.

If you want to have this massage, make sure you check whether the center is an approved center with a specialist who has studied lomi lomi. Due to the unique nature of the practice, only specially trained experts can deliver the delicate and consistent strokes to trigger the right body response.

Such centers are not hard to spot, though.


Lomi Lomi massages are certainly an unusual, and interesting, take on massage therapy. They’re not as wild as Japanese Nuru massages, but they combine massage and religious rituals in a surprising, restorative way.