Body Therapy (Rhythmical Massage Therapy, Pressel Massage)

Anthroposophic body therapy includes rhythmical massage therapy according to Wegman/Hauschka and Pressel massage according to Simeon Pressel. Understanding the fourfold nature of the human constitution leads to essential orientations for providing body therapy. After all, the human body is not only to be touched physically, it also has therapeutic needs for its life organization. Standard classical massage emphasizes treatment of the physical organization of the patient; rhythmical massage therapy addresses the life organization by means of its different qualities of manipulation, leading to an intensification of upbuilding life processes. The patient feels invigorated and refreshed after the treatment. Pre-existing pain symptoms are often significantly improved. In some studies, it was possible to document the efficacy of rhythmical massage therapy based on multiple parameters (see, e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4).

Due to its special qualities of grip and touch, rhythmical massage therapy treats people on all levels of their existence—body, soul and spirit—whereby it stimulates rhythmic processes in the organism in a differentiated, dialogical way as the source of all regeneration and healing. Thus, for example, tendencies to solidification can be dissolved, deposits and congestion can be loosened, and any cool, “inanimate” body areas can be warmed up and vitalized. 

In this way, rhythmical massage therapy has a regulating and ordering effect on the body’s flowing fluid processes, on its rhythmically alternating breathing processes, and on all the body’s warming processes. 

An essential principle of rhythmical massage therapy is the law of polarity:
This concerns the effect on the interaction between the body’s nerve-sense orientation and its metabolic activity (5). When correctly applied, a healthy balance between these polarities can be achieved in cases of pathological one-sidedness. The heart forms the center of the organism and is a kind of mirror organ for the effect of rhythmical massage therapy. The further one descends from the heart with the massage into the areas of the body below, the more one acts on organs located above. For example, abdominal massage can stimulate breathing, whereas foot massage has a relieving effect in the head area.

This harmonizes the interrelationship between soul and body, which is disturbed in many illnesses: On the one hand, the soul can connect better with the body and at the same time it becomes freer and more receptive, e.g., for artistic activities or for coming to terms with the individual’s biography.

These aspects make it possible to extend beyond conventional indications for massage. For example, rhythmical massage therapy can be used to treat asthma, angina pectoris, arterial circulatory disorders, venous diseases, sleep disorders, degenerative diseases of the nervous system, tumor diseases, as well as diseases addressed by psychiatry and education for special needs.

Research news

Yarrow liver compresses in cancer patients and their effect on the autonomous nervous system    
Liver compresses are frequently used in Anthroposophic Medicine for cancer treatment and are believed to have an energizing effect. In a randomized pilot study, the influence of this external application on the autonomous nervous system was now evaluated. For this study, heart rate variability was measured in metastatic cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and suffering from cancer-related fatigue (CRF). A total of 20 patients (10 per group) were available for analysis. The results show that yarrow liver compresses led to increase sympathetic activity during the day in the intervention group, while increased parasympathetic activity was observed in the control group, which received no external application. The study is published open access:
Previously in 2021, Georg Seifert´s research group had demonstrated that liver compresses reduced (CRF) in this clinically relevant range. The current study clarifies the correlation.

Further information on Anthroposophic Medicine