Fitness Self Endurance

3 Unique Recovery Techniques From Around the World

The right way to recover? Depends where in the world you are. 

Western hemisphere physios of yore saw the body as an organization of bones, muscles, fascia, and nerves, so bodywork that originated there, like Swedish massage, attempts to heal and realign those parts.

Eastern folk saw the body as a vessel of energy and breath. Bodywork that grew out of that philosophy, like acupressure, sought to open blocked energy pathways and restore balance.

Here’s a quick look at three types of bodywork from around the world—three philosophies—that can be used as prevention during training or for recovery from an injury or race.


Origin: Japan

Shiatsu is based on theories of acupuncture and Chinese medicine that were imported to Japan around roughly 5 AD. According to Cari Johnson Pelava, director of Centerpoint Massage & Shiatsu Therapy School & Clinic in Minneapolis, a system of energy, “qi,” runs through the body on pathways, and along those pathways lie points where one can access that energy. Symptoms like pain or fatigue are said to be caused by an imbalance of energy. By applying pressure, kneading, and stretching, a shiatsu therapist can restore the body’s energy balance.

Thai Yoga

Origin: Thailand

Thai yoga bodywork has an eastern flavor informed by yoga, Ayurveda, and Buddhism. It combines rhythmic massage, assisted yoga poses, acupressure along energy meridians, healing energy work, and meditation.

Tanya Boigenzahn, director of Devanadi School of Yoga and Wellness in Minneapolis, says Thai yoga bodywork can help athletes with flexibility, alignment, and breath control, as well as their mental game—mood, concentration, and confidence.

Thai yoga is accomplished in a one-on-one session with clothes on. The therapist moves a passive client through positions, stretching tight areas, and encouraging range of motion and mindful breathwork.


Origin: USA

Ida Rolf thought that pain, inefficient movement, and imbalance were the result of the body being improperly organized around its axis. In New York City in the 1940s, Rolf began reorganizing client’s bodies by manipulating fascia—the connective tissue separating muscles and other organs—which developed into the therapeutic approach called Rolfing Structural Integration. It involves education, Rolfing is not a one-and- done—the treatment is usually a series of ten sessions.

Rolfing is a holistic approach that seeks to find the source of the dysfunction, rather than merely treat the symptom. “Participatory” is a key word.

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