The Benefits of a Lomi Lomi Hawaiian Massage

a young woman lying on a massage table with palm trees in the background
Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Lomi lomi (also known as "lomilomi") is a type of massage long practiced in Hawaii. Rooted in huna (a Hawaiian philosophy centered on achieving harmony in mind, body, and spirit), lomi lomi aims to promote relaxation, improve circulation, address muscle pain and other physical ailments, and provide spiritual and emotional benefits, including the relief of fear, anxiety, and other negative emotions.

One of the goals of lomi lomi massage is to clear blockages in the body's natural flow of energy through the body. As in traditional Chinese medicine, energy blockages are thought to contribute to problems in physical, emotional, and mental health.

What a Lomi Lomi Massage Is Like

A typical lomi lomi session begins with a prayer and may involve meditation and focused breathing exercises.

Although practitioners use a variety of techniques and tailor each treatment to the needs of the client, lomi lomi typically involves rhythmic, flowing massage strokes which are meant to clear blockages in the circulation of energy through the body. The therapist typically uses his or her forearms to make long massage strokes.

Other lomi lomi massage strokes involve a circular or chopping motion, gentle pounding, percussive cupping, and/or fingertip tapping.

Draping During a Lomi Lomi Massage

With the long, continuous massage techniques that run the length of the body, lomi lomi massage traditionally involves less draping than other types of massage.

There is often a small towel covering the glute area while you are lying on the table face down, and a small towel covering your pelvic region while you are lying face up. In traditional lomi lomi, no draping is used over the breasts for women.

Most massage therapists in spas and health clinics, however, provide more draping for their clients, and will only expose the area being worked on. The level of draping would be comparable to other forms of massage, and the breasts remain fully covered for women (and not treated during the massage). You can call ahead to inquire about the degree of draping during the massage and always remove clothing to your comfort level.


While research on the health effects of lomi lomi is currently lacking, scientific studies suggest that massage therapy may offer a variety of benefits.

For example, massage therapy may help improve pain intensity and severity and anxiety before or after surgical procedures, according to a review published in Pain Medicine in 2016. 

In addition, some studies suggest that massage therapy may improve symptoms in people with fibromyalgia. A report published in PLoS One, for instance, reviewed previously published studies and found that massage therapy for five weeks or longer reduced pain, anxiety, and depression in participants with fibromyalgia.


Certain individuals need to take caution when undergoing massage. For example, there's some concern that vigorous or intense massage may be harmful to people with conditions such as cancer or bleeding disorders.

If you're considering the use of lomi lomi (or any other type of massage therapy) for the treatment of a health problem, have health concerns, or if you have an upcoming surgical procedure, make sure to consult your doctor first.

Where to Try It

While traditional lomi lomi is not widely practiced, a number of spas offer massage treatments that incorporate some elements of lomi lomi (including the use of hot stones). Traditional lomi lomi is generally found in private practices rather than in a spa setting.

The Bottom Line

There are many types of massage therapy that may help enhance your health and aid in the treatment of certain ailments. For instance, deep tissue massage appears to help treat chronic pain conditions. Aromatherapy massage shows promise in the treatment of such issues as anxiety and depression. Other styles include hot stone massage, Swedish massage, Thai massage, and shiatsu.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources