Medical massage VS. bronchial asthma ???

Recently I have received an FB message “medical massage VS. bronchial asthma ???”

Short and to the point. Isn't it? LOL.  Yes, indeed. There is a significant room for a medical massage when managing bronchial asthma.

Bronchial asthma and bronchitis are very common disorders of the respiratory system. Various factors can cause bronchitis and asthma – viral infections, allergic reactions, etc. Massage therapy and bronchial drainage can play an important role in the treatment and management of the aforementioned disorders. We can assume that in cases of bronchitis & bronchial asthma the activities of the sympathetic nervous system are diminished. Massage therapy has the ability to depress or stimulate the divisions of the autonomic nervous system and can be an invaluable tool in depressing the parasympathetic activities, thereby balancing the activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

All of the body’s mechanoreceptors have various levels of adaptation (their capability to increase production of action potentials.) A massive stimulation of receptors allows us to affect the activities of different subdivisions of an autonomic nervous system according to our needs.

Before the treatment, it is very important to perform the Dermographism test to determine an imbalance between the activities of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This test is performed in a few strokes with a semi-sharp object (corners of the fingernails will do) on the paravertebral zones from approximately L/S to the neck. The initial white Dermographism changes to red Dermographism, which disappears in a short amount of time.

The white Dermographism should change to red within less than 30 seconds. When red Dermographism stays for a prolonged time, sometimes even becoming edema-like raised lines, this is the evidence that the parasympathetic nervous system is in much more active tone. If it changes very quickly from red back to white or stays prolong white, it is a sign that the sympathetic nervous system is much more active. In cases of bronchial asthma and bronchitis parasympathetic activities dominate.

In other cases, we work in the inhibitory regime as an attempt to depress activities of the sympathetic nervous system and to achieve the desired balance. In the case of asthma, it should be opposite – the massage must be intensive, with the techniques mobile, not staying in one place like the inhibitory regime, intensive performances approximately 100 times per minute.


The strokes must be very intensive. No light touch, no effleurage.

Back of the fingers, 5-6 times on each side.

Back of the fingers cross-fiber direction on paravertebral zones.

Back of the fingers from the top of the trapezius to the middle of the back.

Back of the fingers rotations for the top of the traps.

Fingertips petrissage bilaterally on the neck muscles.

Power thumb strips for the upper back area.

Petrissage #7 (with knuckles) for the upper back area (after massive connective tissue)

Petrissage on the neck, up and down.

Comb the ribs

Petrissage #3 for the neck

The approach is simple – intensive stimulation. It shouldn't be, prolonged stimulation leading to adaptation of mechanoreceptors. Remember in most cases the inhibitory regime creates stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system and will not contribute to the therapeutic effect. Conversely, the further suppression of sympathetic activities can even cause the person to have an asthma attack on the table. We want to depress the activities of the parasympathetic nervous system by doing this intensive massage for 20 minutes. Please don’t confuse “intensive massage” with aggressive vigorous pressure massage. We must be careful to not activate the protective muscular spasm…

It is very important to perform the vacuum/suction tapotement. In cases of bronchial asthma and bronchitis, we perform this technique for a much longer time than in cases of other treatments. The application of vacuum techniques should be focused on the upper and middle back.

It is very important to perform this technique correctly – when performed right, the hand makes a hollow sound as it strikes the skin.

After the massage is over we perform bronchial drainage. In cases of bronchitis and bronchial asthma, it’s not only mucus, which obstructs the airways causing breathing difficulties but also the higher tonus of the smooth muscles of the bronchi.

The bronchial drainage techniques are the kind of breathing exercise. When the patient exhales, we squeeze his diaphragm like a ball, squeezing out as much air as possible from the capacity of lungs.

At the point of the maximum exhalation, we ask the patient to start coughing. This causes a kind of stretching and exercise for the bronchi as well as allowing the drainage of mucus from bronchial structures. This kind of bronchi manipulation causes the removal or drainage of the mucus and thus helps prevent bacterial infection and possible subsequent development of pneumonia. Additionally, bronchial drainage techniques also reduce the tension in the bronchial smooth muscles and contribute to the restoration of normal metabolism in these tissues encouraging the swelling and inflammatory condition to go away little by little.

This methodology was proposed by Soviet physician Dr.Lominoga and is described by Dr. Ross Turchaninov in  Medical Massage Volume 2.

On my video Vol. 5  I'm offering an explanation and hands-on demonstration.


It is extremely important to understand that two goals such as suppression of parasympathetic activities, as well as mucous drainage and reduction of tension within smooth muscles of bronchi, are equally important in order to achieve sustainable results including frequency reduction of asthma attacks, the necessity of medication consumptions including and not limited to use of steroids.

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