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Introductory massage certificate course

Your Massage Guide

To use this manual:

  • Read through this section and overview the entire massage.
  • Stay on this page and all your 'next' pages (coloured text) will open in a new window.
  • Arrange models and practise one section at a time; i.e. back, legs etc until you're ready to put it all together
    • If you are working on the floor or a bed, see the floor massage guide for how to sit/ kneel for floor work and incorporate the techniques in this section.
  • The help follow the course, copy the stroke or technique titles on this page into a word document, enlarge, print and put it up on your wall to remind you of what to do next. A felt pen and a whiteboard also works well.
  • Play the videos as you practise.
  • How to tie your sarong

Anyone residing in Christchurch New Zealand is welcome to sample this massage and get support with learning.


  • As you massage, your hands glide over the contours of the body and feel into the tissues as you attempt to define the layers/ muscles, fat, tendons and connective tissues.
  • Experiment with altering the pressure in your hands and fingers for different effects.
  • Massaging should feel enjoyable to your hands as well as for the person receiving.
  • You are attempting to treat the body by firstly over-viewing with effleurage strokes using your whole hand and fingers, then dividing the body into smaller parts and working deeper. Work on the smaller parts in more detail, and then return to broad effleurage strokes to tie all the body parts together and give a sense of oneness.
  • You are looking to create a general sense of flow from soft to firmer and deeper as is comfortable within each area of the body and back to soft again.
  • By doing two or three massages per week you will quickly consolidate what you are learning.
  • Take a shower before your massage and ensure you clients do to. Sharing BO, halitosis or toe jam demeans the massage.

Starting out

  • Ask your client/friend about how they are and if they have any health problems. If there are no contraindications to massage:
    • Have them lying comfortably face down, straight & symmetrical.
    • Cover with a sheet or towel as temperature and their modesty indicates.
    • Remember that some people may need a bolster under their ankles.
    • Some women may need small bolsters under their front shoulders to relieve pressure on their chest.
    • Place your container of (warmed) oil on the table between their legs.

Massage is discovering the details of the body and also revealing those details to that person. It is also a journey in sensual awareness.

Order of Massage Techniques

  1. Centring - getting connected and smoothing over the body.
  2. Pulsing - settling the person.
  3. Effleurage - superficial strokes to gain an overview of the body area you are about to work on and to finish an area.
  4. Petrissage - a mix of light and deep kneading to help soften tight muscles.
  5. Friction rubs - over very tight areas.
  6. Pressing, Tapotement and Vibration - as necessary over very tight areas.
  7. Effleurage - to sooth, relax and restore a sense of relaxation and completeness.

Begin by:

  • Arranging the sheet lengthwise and smoothing out over the body contours.
  • Centre with one hand over the heart & one on the sacrum.
  • Take a few slow deep breaths and feel connected.
  • Pulse as per video on Page 1.

Pull back the sheet, as per Draping

Don’t be shy about butts - yours or others. It’s actually it’s three large muscles - the piriformis, gluteals or glutes. It’s not a booty or ass, it's not to be judged or seen as fat, tiny, jiggly or bony. Observe bodies in a clinical sense, and if clients have pain associated with lower back, legs, hips or glutes you need to massage the butt. Explain this and don’t be shy.

Page 2 – Add Oil

  • Try to keep one hand touching the body part you are about to work on and get the oil with your free hand.
  • Better too much than not enough.
  • Use soft flowing strokes to spread oil over the entire back body, including buttocks, neck, shoulders and sides.

The blue line is the start point for all strokes working up the back as they are to flow along the full length of the spine.

Page 3 - Primary back strokes

  • Start with your finger tips behind the line at the base of the sacrum; that's either side of the tail bone as illustrated in the image right.
  • Keep your hands together and slide them gently over the sacrum, up either side of the spine with firm with even pressure on your palms and fingers.
  • Let your fingers curl/flow over the tops of the shoulders and down toward the table while your thumbs continue through the neck with even pressure to gently touch into the base of the skull at a different point on each stroke.
  • Then pull back, flow out over the shoulders,
    • down through the armpits/ side ribs.
    • back down the body sides.
    • up over the hips and returning your finger tips to the start point below the sacrum.
  • Feel the shape and texture of the body.
  • As you are comfortable, transfer more pressure into your fingertips as you slide over the upper back.

Secondary Back Stroke (Effleurage)

  • As with the primary stroke, start with your hands/fingers together below the start point either side of the tail bone and below the sacrum as above.
  • Slide out over the dimples, down through the waist so that heels of your hands lead and your fingers trail behind (finger point slightly up). You usually have to lean in to do this.
  • As your hands reach the table, turn your fingers down and squeeze back up over the hips returning your fingers to the start line.
  • Make each successive stroke go a little higher up either side of the spine before going down over the sides
  • When your strokes reach the shoulders, squiggle/shuffle - slide your fingertips quickly side to side between the shoulder blades and finish as in the primary strokes.
  • Typically you will make 4 or 5 oval strokes before the side to side shuffle.
  • Repeat this entire set three times.

Page 4 – Primary & secondary thumbs

  • Similar to the primary effleurage stroke, start with your thumbs below the sacrum, flow up either side of the spine to touch the base of the skull and hands flow back to repeat.
  • Repeat 3 times to cover the main spinal muscles

Avoid any pressing on the spine

Secondary Thumbs

  • Similar to the secondary effleurage stroke, start with your thumbs either side of the coccyx (below the line as above), circle out over the dimples and try to connect with the rim of the pelvis as you slide down to the table level.
  • Pull back and apply firm pressure on your fingertips as you pull up over the hips.
  • Increase the circle as with the secondary effleurage.
  • When your strokes reach the shoulders and you have almost returned to doing the primary thumb stroke as above; make your next stroke so that after you flow over the waist, dig in a little and make circular movements (ra ra ra) from the bottom ribs up through the shoulder blades.

The black dot at the top centre of the sacrum shows the start point for the sun strokes (arrowed).

Page 5 – Detailed Thumbs

  • Sun strokes out through the hips.
    Work across the body use the thumb of your hand that's closest to the persons head. To steady your thumb, hold your wrist with the free hand. Apply firm pressure to make repeated strokes away from the top centre of the sacrum (as illustrated).

    • You are looking to make the first stroke out as far as the crease between the buttock and back thigh.
    • Then radiate strokes out over the hip as illustrated.
    • Avoid crashing your thumb into the thigh bone - that can really hurt if you're not careful. Define its location and soften off as you get near.
    • There is often some tenderness or even pain in in these muscles.
  • Stirring the Pot
    Continue working into the area by pulling back with fingers on top of fingers - circular movements covering the entire area.

    • Can you pull your fingers into the muscles between the thigh bone and the table surface and slide your hands side to side?
    • Then keep that movement going as you slide up between the thigh bone and top pelvis and into the muscles of the outer hip where your fingers make firm circular strokes to cover the entire area.
  • Make some soothing effleurage strokes to finish if there was any tenderness.
  • Wringing
    Make a wringing action up the entire side of the body  - over the shoulder and back down.
  • Kneading (petrissage) body side - in general make three lines - close to the table to the armpit - up onto the centre of that side and continue the action back to the hip - then continue along the top of that side and onto pulling up the neck - step along.
  • Ensure you cover the entire side of the body from hip to neck and spine to table surface.

Page 6 – Shoulders

  1. You have finished petrissage near the neck, so hook your fingers as close to the occipital point as you can and make sliding movements from the base of the skull out to the top of the shoulder.
  2. Keep the fingers of one hand on top of the others, work every which way between the spine and the shoulder blade.
  3. Slide your finger tips up and down between the ribs.
  4. The 3 arm positions:
    • Often the arm will be resting on the table beside the body, but if the persons arm is above their head, you can work in reverse order.
    • Repeat points 1 - 3.
    • Then reach over and position the arm above the head.
    • Repeat points 1 - 3.

Side sweep to integrate that side of the body and this instruction is for when the persons arm is above their head.

  • Aim your hands equal distance either side of the arm.
  • Slide your hands over the shoulder blade and bring weight onto your forearms.
  • Slide your hands out along the arm until your elbows are on either side of the shoulder blade.
  • Then grip the arm and pull back so you hands slide up the arm, over the front shoulder and under the armpit.
  • Repeat this move a few times and then:
  • Keeping the fingers of the hip side hand curled almost under the body and the heel of the head side hand near the spine, brace your body and pull down over the hip.
  • Bring the fingers of your lower hand up and under the palm of the hand that has stayed near the spine. Ideally the finger tips of your leg side hand will be on the start point beside the coccyx.
  • Apply firm pressure your top hand on your fingers as you slide up the side of the spine.
  • As you come to the shoulder, separate you hands, aim your hands out either side of the arm and bring weight onto your forearms to repeat the stroke 3 - 5 times.

Go around and repeat the other side.
As you have been working, you may have noticed tight or even sore spots, note them and the extent they cover. You may pause the routine and press or rub into them in consultation with the recipient, but then resume the sequence and return to those sore bits periodically.

Page 8 – Back stretch

  • Lay your forearms across the middle of the back with you forearms together and your palms upwards.
  • Rotate and slide your arms apart to stretch the back.
  • Keep the pressure firm over the hips - softer as you approach the neck.
  • Repeat on the diagonals and have some creative play taking care not to put to much pressure on you elbows or bump the bones.

Page 9 – Wax on wax off, niceness

  • Commence with your hands near the start line, make opposing circles up and down several times over the entire back.
  • Your hands will alternate crossing over the spine and flowing almost under the sides of the body and pulling back up with out breaking the circular pattern.

Page 9a – Working down from above the head. Some strokes you've done can also be done down the back.

  • Stand above the head and work into and around the shoulders and try to:
    • Curl your fingers into your palms and slide your thumbs from the top of the neck and out toward the shoulders - feel in between the bones.
    • Pick up and squeeze the muscles between the neck and shoulders.
    • Slide your knuckles from the top of the neck and out toward the shoulders.
  • Detailed rubbing between spine and shoulder blades and on the shoulder blades.
  • Hand over hand strokes down the back - a nice warming stroke.
  • Pull back into and feel along the ridge of the skull.
  • Massage into the back of the head.
  • Reverse primary stroke to finish.

Page 10 – Full back demonstration

  • This consolidates all the above into a continuous sequence you can play as you massage.
  • As you are comfortable with the techniques, you can mix the order but remember - go from soft to firm and back to soft for best relaxation effect. Pause to gently explore any sore spots in consultation with the person you are treating.

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Page 11 – Back leg. Note that here are two complete leg massage options and that the legs can be done as a single unit, or upper and lower leg separately, it's up to you how far you can reach and be comfortable.

  • Centre as needed – one hand on the foot and one on the buttock.
  • Uncover the leg and hip.
  • Shake n tug the leg; slide your fingers of your inside hand under the inner ankle to lift the foot, hold the foot with your thumb on the solar plexus point and support the ankle with your outer hand. Give a firm shake and tug as a firm handshake.
  • if the persons legs are too close, bend their knee and hold the ankle. Lift and shake/wobble the leg and open the thigh out.
  • Place your knee on the table and rest the persons ankle over your thigh
  • Calf; add wax/oil and effleurage.
  • Work around the heel & Achilles tendon.
  • Flying birds.
  • Define the muscles and bones.
  • Slide, stroke down from the ankle with your thumbs down to cover the entire calf muscles, but soften off before the back knee.
  • Kneading inner and outer calf (petrissage or more flying birds).
  • Wringing/ draining & Effleurage.

Variation; bend the leg to 90 degrees, sit on the table and rest the foot on your chest or shoulder.

  • Hold the foot with one hand and work with other as you work around the heel & Achilles tendon.
  • Wringing the calf with a downward push - both hands remembering you need to control/ support the raised foot.
  • Use the heels of your hands to squeeze the calf muscles away from the shin bone and slide down toward the knee.
  • Make a heart shape with your hands and slide down as above, but also pull your finger tips back into the calf muscles.
  • Open the foot out and work into the inner thigh.
    • Keep holding the foot with your outer hand and massage with your inner hand.
    • Flying bird with one hand with emphasis on 1. your thumb turning down and 2. your fingers sliding up.
  • Use your knuckles to slide up the inside thigh and across under the sitting bone and over the hip as far as it's comfortable to reach.
  • Move foot inward and work the outer thigh. Use a combination of hands, fingers & thumbs or your knuckles to work into this tight area.
  • Here you may need to stand up and as on the inner thigh, make strokes along 1. level and 2. on the diagonals.

Back thigh - without changing your position.

  • Use both hands and combine effleurage and flying birds. Try to cover the entire back thigh and buttock if you can reach.
  • firm thumb strokes from the back of the knee to as high as you can reach with the thumb of your outside hand going up over the hip.
  • Combine effleurage and flying birds.

Calf and thigh - with the leg resting on the table

  • Flying birds.
  • Wringing - (an opposing friction rub).
  • Kneading (petrissage).
  • Effleurage.
  • Drainage strokes & Return the energy down.
  • Foot to head integration strokes.

Repeat on other leg

Page 12 – Turning over

  • Remembering your towel technique
  • If you are using a table with a face hole, you will need to cover the hole or put the plug back in.

Page 15 – feet - reflexology

  • No Oil.
  • Push, Pull n Twist.
  • Toes Back, Forward and Apart.
  • Milking the toes.
  • Kneading – thumb tip over entire sole.
  • Spine reflex.
  • abdominal reflex.
  • Outer side pinch.
  • Knuckle Rub over instep.
  • Explore around ankle w/ finger tips.
  • Breaking the biscuit.
  • Ankle shunting n slapping.

Page 16 – Front leg & Page 17 – Front leg

As with the back leg, sometimes you can treat the entire front leg as you can reach, but if you are a shorter person treating a tall person it's often best to treat the upper and lower leg separately. Here there are tow options; you can do one or both.

  • Oil & Effleurage.
  • Flying birds.
  • Define front shin bone – channel between shin & muscles - inner and outer.
  • gentle broad thumb strokes over the flat inner shin bone.
  • Define muscles.
  • Wringing.
  • Kneading (petrissage).
  • Drainage strokes or firm effleurage.


  • Flying birds.
  • Wringing.
  • Kneading (petrissage).
  • Thumb strokes along the length of the thigh.
  • Drainage strokes or firm effleurage.
  • Return the energy down.

Bent knee variation

  • Support under the ankle and back of knee.
  • Walk the leg up and sit on the table so that your thigh pprevents the persons foot from slipping but does not crush it.
  • Squeeze the heels of your hands into the side of the thigh and slide down
  • Squeeze the heels of your hands into the side of the thigh and slide down and at the same time pulling back with your fingertips to make parallel strokes across the entire front thigh.
  • Open the knee ou and support it with one hand.
  • Work into the inner thigh kneading with one hand and or knuckles.
  • Change hands and lean the knee in and massage the outer thigh.
  • Rest the leg down and petrisage, effleurage & perform drainage strokes.

Body Front
Typically you need more oil and as the belly is particularly sensitive, be gentle and avoid pressing on the bladder.

Page 20 – Front torso - Page 21 – Front torso - Page 22 – Chest.

  • Oil/Wax and rest your hands on the belly.
  • Gentle wave;
    • sink the heels of your hands into the softness of the belly nearest you and feel that you are pusjing gently into the viscera.
    • Then reverse rthe move so your fingers sink in and pull toward you.
  • Hands over hand pulling up the side of the torso including the ribcage. You can either avoid the breast or include it.
  • Pull in the waist with your left hand so that your fingers stroke direction conforms to the flow of the large intetine.
    • Then slide your thumb or the heel of your thumb along the direction of the colon in a clockwise rotation.
  • Detail between the ribs and smooth out
  • Massage breasts & sternum
  • Repeat on other side
  • Pull up n cross over
  • Effleurage

Page 23 – Back stretch. Note this cannot be done if your client is laying on a towel or is fully draped.

  • Slide down the body front, avoid, putting any prssure on te breasts, flow out over the hips and under the back as low down as you can reach.
  • Slide back up under the body with upward pressure into the muscles on either side of the spine with your fingertips.
  • Slide up throgh te armpits and contour over the shouders, under the neck and head as described for doing the neck.
  • Repeat a few times as most people love this.

Page 24 – Hands & Arms

    • Hold base of thumb and sway the elbow.
    • Combine effleurage and petrissage to forearm.
    • Support elbow and clients hand to your waist.
    • Combine effleurage and petrissage to upper arm.


  • Breaking the biscuit.
  • Milking the fingers.
  • Interlock fingers and massage palms.


Page 25 – Neck, Head & Face

  • Sit above the persons head.
  • Place hands on chest.
  • Sweep out over shoulders, under the neck n under the head.
  • Detail collar bone n top ribs.
  • Kneading (petrissage ) trapezius n neck muscles.
  • Sweep out over shoulders, under the neck n under the head.
  • Supplemental page


  • Ensure head is straight n level.
  • Place thumbs together touching eyebrows n slide out to temples.
  • flow up to crown of the head.
  • Repeat to cover the forehead.
  • Middle index fingers trace the bridge of the nose n flow Face.
  • Place thumbs together touching eyebrows n slide out to temples.
  • flow up to crown of the head.
  • Repeat to cover the forehead.
  • Along ridge of eye socket.
  • Bridge of nose, draining sinuses.
  • your thumbs point back at you n your knuckles rest on cheeks.
  • Gentle kneading face, jaw n ears.
  • massage scalp.

The pressure point on the crown of the head relates to the crown chakra and the regular gentle simulation can be enlightening.

As you become familiar and competent with all the techniques described, you can advance to the next course..

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