Massage vs. Cystic Fibrosis

By April Warren and Ross Ashcraft

Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disease that produces excessive thick mucus mostly in the lungs.  In the X-Ray to the side, you can see how cloudy the lungs look.  This is due to the buildup of fibrotic tissue and mucus in the lungs.  It causes problems digesting, breathing, and body cooling.    One of the main ways that doctors diagnose Cystic Fibrosis is to give a sweat test.  If the patient has this condition, their bodies do not retain salt and this excess salt will show in their sweat.  My son like many children are diagnosed with this disease at a young age.  This condition is therefore a very personal battle to me and one I use every technique I can find to combat.

One way to relieve the symptoms of cystic fibrosis is through appropriate massage.  Massage is an excellent treatment for many conditions.  It takes skill and lots of study to know how to apply the correct massage technique to the correct client.  Massage therapist must learn as many pathologies as possible in order to give their clients the best treatment.  But none of us can memorize every treatment possible.  This is why we recommend reference material.  Every massage business should one or two reference books on hand to look up any unknown diseases or conditions; and several great websites to look up any exotic or strange diseases our clients may reveal.


1.)  Position:  Lying Down:

Postural drainage on the back inside the scapulas will look a lot like Tapotment.  Postural drainage using percussion is used along with gravity and will help pull the mucous from the chest to the throat.  Percussion is applied to the client torso with their head is lowed by the use of pillows.  They could also have their head lower than their chest by hanging partly off the table or bed.  This allows gravity to do some of the work. To drain the middle and lower portions of the lungs, the chest should be above the head.  To drain the upper portion of the lungs, the client should be sitting up at a 45 degree angle.

2.)  Position:  Sitting:

Stand behind the client and make sure they are comfortable.

Example 1)  Use percussion and vibration over the muscle area between the collar bone and the very top of the shoulder blades (shaded areas of the diagram) on both sides for 3 to 5 minutes.  Have clients take a deep breath and cough during percussion to clear airwaves.

Example 2)  In this position, the client leans over on a bed or in a chair with arms dangling over a pillow.  Percussion and vibrated with both hands on the upper back are used on the right and left side.

Example 3):  In this position, percussion and vibrate over the bottom part of the shoulder blades on both the right and left side of the spine.



2.)  Do not do postural drainage and percussion on bare skin.


Try the above technique on a fellow therapist or willing client.  FYI:  Technique takes several minutes to do properly.  Let us know all feedback!!!

“Position #11.” COPD. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2012. <>.”Kick CF with Jordan Gross Set for April 28th 2012 at 3PM at Providence High School.”Kick Cystic Fibrosis with Jordan Gross. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2012. <>.

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