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The science of Russian Medical Massage was originally developed by Professor Anatoli Sherbak in the nineteen thirties. In the nineteen fifties his developments were expanded by German scientists Dr. Glezer and Dr. Dalicho. Later in the sixties and seventies many scientists of the former Soviet block countries contributed to this development. They were for instance Soviet scientists like professor Dembo, professor Popilyansky, the Bulgarian scientist professor Ivanov and many,many more. Yet, little or close to nothing of the Medical and sports Massage was known in the West. Although the large research institutions were involved in the Medical and Sports Massage studies, their developments were kept in strict secrecy. The secrecy was guaranteed by KGB and was overseen personally by the influential member of the central Communist Committee comrade Suslov.

The reason for such secrecy was substantial. During the “Cold War” Soviet propaganda always tried to portray the Soviet system and Soviet way of life as far superior to the one adopted by the West. It even came up with the myth of special new “Soviet Person”, carrier of the advanced Soviet mentality, which allegedly was far superior to a mentality of a Western person.

In order to somehow substantiate this myth, the Soviet propaganda utilized any Olympic sports and the dominance of the Soviet block athletes, especially of the USSR and Eastern Germany during Olympic Games in the sixties, seventies and eighties.

Longevity of the Soviet block athletes compared to their Western counterparts was obviously longer. The vast majority of the Soviet block athletes were competitive for ten to fifteen years. The real secret of such longevity was the elaborate system of pre-event and post-event rehabilitative Sports massage and the proper warm up procedure; a sequence of special exercises including neuromuscular re-education and post isometric relaxation that made sure that all the muscles of the responsible regions work in assembly and in the neurological sense. Such powerful scientifically based methods made sure that joints are stable enough to withstand huge competitive loads and to perform to the maximum physiological potential of individual athletes.

All that changed during the time of Gorbachev’s “perestroika” – restructuring of the Soviet economy – and, subsequently, during the time when the Soviet system has fallen apart. The scientific institutions that for decades were supported financially by the Soviet Government, regardless of their actual profitability, were suddenly left without any fundings and, thus, quickly disintegrated.

The impressive body of knowledge accumulated by decades of arduous work by talented scientists was literally abandoned. That’s why, paradoxically, the only people who could carry the torch of knowledge in the Russian Medical and Sports Massage were those who have emigrated from the Soviet Union at the time and prior to “perestroika.” One of those rare top echelon people, who were educated, trained in secrets of Russian rehabilitative sports medicine and worked extensively with elite athletes under the Soviet System, was Boris. Boris was the first person who years ago introduced Medical and Sports Massage to American practitioners who are utilizingmanual therapy.

Medical Massage is not a remedy from all diseases, but a powerful treatment methodology that must be incorporate in treatments and prevention of many diseases.

One of the areas where Medical Massage is extremely powerful is in reversing negative effects of stress. Being a passionate proponent of conservative treatment methods in his practice, Boris at the same time became unwilling observer of the alarming statistics that happened in the US in the last 20 years – the time period since his arrival to the United States.

Modern society at large and American society specifically is suffering significantly from the negative side effects of stress. In the recent years, many statistics and surveys, including Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School, indicate that severe side effects of stress are gradually debilitating more and more people - approximately 60 to 90 % of doctors visits annually are stress related. Stress-related illnesses include heart attack, stroke, high blood pressurediabetes type2, anxiety, clinical depression, sleep disorders, weight gaining due to stress eating, muscular pathology and more. Medical Massage isn’t

a remedy from all deceases but scientifically and clinically proven as a most powerful methodology in stress management. This means that the above 60 to 90% of doctor visits annual statistics could be drastically reduced if people would receive medical stress management massage. Since accumulation of stress is a constant process, something that we cannot get away from, we must manage it constantly as well. It would be appropriate additionally to make the following statement: “It is scientifically and clinically proven that no sport activities, meditations and other stress management techniques possess clinical power for stress management as stress management Medical Massage possess.”

Medical massage protocol can prevent surgical intervention.

Sciatic nerve neuralgia is considered to be one of the most difficult abnormalities of the support and movement system. Clinical expressions of sciatic nerve neuralgia include sharp pain irradiating to the lower extremities, which increases during any of the patient’s attempts to move and of course limited range of motion on all axes and planes. Usually, when a patient appears at the doctor’s office with such a difficult clinical picture, in addition to prescribing painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or utilizing injections, the doctor will usually refer the patient for radiological examination.

Today, the most common radiological examinations are the MRI and/or CT scan. In many cases, MRI test detects bulging and/or herniation of discs. If symptoms are not alleviated in a period of a few weeks due to conservative methods of treatments (above mentioned oral or injected medication and other methods, like physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, acupuncture etc.) consideration will be given to surgical intervention. The problem is that in many cases, this difficult neurological picture is not the result of the disc herniation, but is actually the result of piriformis muscle syndrome.

By the way, if we will provide MRI test to hundredths of people’s age group 35 to 55, many tests will demonstrate bulging and/or herniation of discs, but this people will not complain on any significant pain. Note that spinal surgery performed under total anesthesia, which causes immediate drop in muscular tension. The same results, rapidly to decrease excessive tension within muscles, could be achieved by application of special methodology of medical and sports a massage.

The Piriformis muscle originates from the anterior surface of the sacrum and inserts into the greater trochanter. It shares the passage through the greater sciatic foramen with several important nervous and vascular structures including nerves, which provide innervation to pelvic inner organs, the gluteals, and the lower extremities. The piriformis muscles can accumulate tension to the point that they will start compressing/ impinging sciatic nerve and awaking in some cases intolerable pain in the buttocks and lower back with irradiation to the extremities.

Sciatica nerve neuralgia can be the result of compression of the S1 spinal nerve as well as can be due to the compression of the sciatic nerve by over-tensed piriformis muscles. If patients with symptoms of sciatica have the ability to bend forward without awaking pain, most likely the sciatica neuralgia is the results of piriformis muscle syndrome.

The Causes for Accumulation of Tension in the Piriformis Muscles


Due to spondylosis, including herniation of disc, spinal nerves can be irritated (please do not confuse irritation of the spinal nerve with compression of the spinal nerve.) Irritation of the spinal nerves that provide innervation to the piriformis muscles (S1 spinal nerve) will cause a gradual accumulation of tension in these muscles, to the point that they will compress the sciatic nerve.


Physical overload of the muscles such as vigorous exercise, job performances that put too much static load on the piriformis muscles, hormone changes, exposure to toxins, physical and/or psychological trauma, etc.


As you could see both cases promote accumulation of tension within muscles. In the last 20 years general public was vigorously involved in fitness activities. One of the exercise stress side effects is the gradual accumulation of tension within skeleton muscles including piriformis muscles.

This vicious cycle of increase in muscular tone is easy to break down. By doing this you are preventing not only Sciatica development, but also other sports related injuries such as tendon, muscles, ligaments tears, and disproportional to age osteoarthritis development , spinal disorders etc.

Exactly like in cases of Sciatica, when patients appearing in Doctor’s offices with complain on sharp high-intensity pain in neck as well as radiating sharp pain to the arm, patients usually given painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs as well as injections and referred to MRI and/or CT examination. As it was mentioned in Sciatica commentary, results of this examination can witness bulging or herniation of disk that will not be responsible for this difficult neurological picture. The symptoms very similar to those produced by disc herniation could be invoked by over tensed cervical anterior scalene muscles that compresses the brachial plexus (conversion of cervical spinal nerves) located between the anterior scalene and middle scalene muscles.

Even if difficult neurological clinical picture is a result of bulging or herniation of intervertebral disk, Medical Massage protocol can still contribute significantly to the overall treatment. Compression of spinal nerve by herniated disk immediately awakes significant reflexive spasm of neighboring muscles, causing swelling of spinal nerve, accumulation of excessive amount of extra cellular fluids, in some cases internal bleeding will contribute to increase of pressure by mentioned above factors. Excessive muscular pressure exerts double pressure on nerves thus increasing venous blood stosis, which additionally will increase internal pressure that compresses – pinching spinal nerve. Medical Massage techniques in most cases rapidly reduces tension within muscles, which reverses all the above described processes while as ice massage decreases swelling.

All mention reaction on treatment not only decreasing sharpness of pain but also promote healing process, which is normalization of local metabolisms to take place.

There is no definite statistics on how many times spinal surgeries were performed in cases of mention above muscular syndromes. However during Boris’ 36 years of clinical experience, including the last 20 years practice in America, many times he successfully treated people that because of described type of pain and results of MRI were scheduled for surgery. Thus surgical intervention actually was prevented due to implementation of Medical Massage protocols for these types of disorders. Boris also taught this Medical and Sports Massage protocols at the continued education seminars, as well as for advance programs at his school . Many students were constantly reporting good results in mentioned above difficult cases. Boris personally and many of his students worked closely with doctors in treating these difficult pathologies.

One of the many important questions that massage therapists must ask doctors is whether patient’s reflexes are good. When the answer is "yes" it is almost certain that non invasive methods of treatment could help. The great part of this methodology is that all protocols are developed through extensive research including testing it against a placebo. This means that these protocols are safe and effective. Russian medical message treatment at the worst case scenario isn’t going to help. However, according to more than 40 years of massive utilization of the Medical and Sports Massage in the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries, in most cases they proved to be very effective as well as much cheaper than other available treatments. Boris is a big believer in integrative medicine that has to be lead by medical doctors, who will make diagnoses and, in general, will be a gatekeeper. Certainly many abnormalities can be prevented and if they will be developed into diseases, can be treated by incorporation of Medical and Sports massage in the overall treatment.

The former Soviet Union wasn't a rich country but because of much cheaper integrative medicine approach it provided good and effective preventive and clinical medicine. For centuries and until today in the Eastern provinces of China, doctors make more money when their patients stay healthy than when they are sick. Therefore on daily basis and very intensely Chinese doctors practice preventive medicine that includes teaching self massage and other preventive methodologies.

The above references to Russian and Chinese medical systems doesn’t suggest that American health system should be structured after them, but it will be a smart policy to learn positive elements of those systems and incorporate those positive elements in the health care system in the United States.

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