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Massage techniques

Methods of touch

Fundamental Massage Techniques

Massage techniques are combinations of rubbing, squeezing and applying pressure with hands, fingers and forearms. Rubbing softens and smooths, squeezing and pressure releases tensions trapped within muscles.

  1. Rocking / Pulsing
    The gentle rhythmic rocking of the body helps relaxation. You need to determine the natural pulse of the body. The origin is in the rocking of a baby and adapted to the massage studio.
    • The benefits of pulsing
      • Gives comfort
      • Relieves pain
      • Nurtures
  2. Effleurage (stroking)
    Stroking and soothing strokes. Smooth flowing strokes where your weight / pressure is spread over the entire palm of your hand and fingers. Derived from effleurer, effleurage is a French word meaning 'to touch lightly'. Effleurage is a stroking massage movement using both hands flowing continuously from one stroke to another with varying levels of pressure. It is used at the start and end of massage, and between all other strokes. Unlike petrissage and percussion, effleurage does not aim to move or manipulate tissues or muscles, only to soothe, relax, and improve circulation.To perform effleurage, both hands may be on the body at any one time or just one and any pressure being applied is stronger as you push away and focused towards the heart and softer as you draw you hands toward you. The primary stroke is either from the sacrum, flowing up over the back and down over the sides in a circular motion back to the sacrum. Repeat as many times as to takes to cover the whole back. Variations are hand over hand, gliding and sweeping strokes of which the nicest is wax on wax off.
    • The benefits of effleurage:
      • Warms the muscles prior to deeper pressure and assists recovery after deep pressure.
      • Aids lymphatic drainage and venous blood circulation
      • The mechanical removal of accumulated horny cells on the surface of the skin.
      • Increased activity of the sweat glands.
      • Increased superficial circulation.
      • One of the main techniques for relaxation.
      • Creating a sense of wholeness over the body.
  3. Petrissage or Kneading
    Petrissage (kneading)Often referred to as kneading, this is where you use your fingertips and firm thumb pressure penetrate, separate and squeeze individual muscles and areas of tissue. Petrissage is a focused massage movement concentrating on specific muscle groups to aid in the elimination of 'knots' and increase blood flow to congested deep muscular tissue. Muscle is compressed beneath either the palms, thumbs, fingertips, fist or elbows resulting in increased circulation through the muscles. Petrissage is deeper massaging movement and must be followed by effleurage to sweep away toxins.
    • The benefits of petrissage
    • Compression and relaxation of muscle causes the veins and lymph vessels to be filled and emptied
      Increases the circulation and removal of waste products.
    • Eliminates fatigue, muscle tired by continual labour is restored more  quickly by massage, especially petrissage, than simply by rest.
      The skin, deep and superficial tissues, are all stimulated to further activity.
    • Hard, contracted muscles are softened and relaxed.
      The sudden releasing of the stretched muscle fibres causes them to contract momentarily, thus strengthening them.
  4. Friction
    Generate heat in the muscles that you are working on. It is usually performed with the flat or the heel of the hand, and can be done with the tips of the fingers or thumb. The aim of friction is to loosen hardened tissue. It mechanically reduces deposits of waste products and facilitates their removal by the lymphatic system.

    • Effects of Friction
    • Soften fibrous thickenings.
    • Stimulation of circulation and fresh supply of blood to the part
    • Heat and warm the muscles in an area which makes them more pliable
  5. Tapotement

    Tapotement is a specific technique used in Swedish massage. It is a rhythmic percussion, most frequently administered with the edge of the hand, a cupped hand or the tips of the fingers.Using the edge of the hand is also called Hacking. Finger methods include wiggling and lightly tapping on the body. It is primarily used as a stimulating stroke and can release lymphatic build up in the back..Tapotement is a more stimulating movement in which the fingers, sides or palms of the hands produce light tapping, quick pinching or gentle slapping movements.  The name of the stroke is taken from the French word "Tapoter", meaning to tap or to drum. Tapotement is very useful in atrophied conditions of the skin and muscles and includes all percussion movements subdivided into:

  6. Hacking
    • This is performed with the hands at right angles to the wrists, the palms (acing each other, but not touching. The elbows are held well away from the body, and the fingers are slightly flexed. By a sharp twist of the wrist, the outer three fingers strike the part under treatment, first one hand, then the other, in rapid succession. This movement must produce a quick springy flick; not a dull heavy blow. The fingers always strike across the muscle fibres.
    • Beating
    • Beating is done slowly. The hands are closed loosely. The arms are lifted in the air from the shoulders and showed to fall by their own weight palms first, the closed fingers striking the part. This is done over the Gluteus and other large muscles.
    • Pounding
      This is a quick movement done with the outer border of the hands. The hands are loosely closed, and the movement is performed from the elbow, It is given over the buttocks, fleshy parts of the thighs, and on the shoulders.
    • Effects of Tapotement, pounding & beating:
      • It causes the muscle fibres to contract, thus strengthening the muscle. You can convince yourself of the latter by noticing how in the case of the  sudden blow, the muscle contracts on the spot struck and the wave of  contractions are transmitted through the entire muscle.
      • Given lightly for a short period, it causes contraction of the superficial vessels.
      • Given heartily for a longer period, it causes dilation of the vessels and redness of the skin.
      • Increases the circulation of the blood, thereby burning up fatty deposits.
  7. Cupping
    The palms of the hands are slightly contracted to form a hollow cup shape, the fingers are closed and then the hand strikes the body. This treatment is generally used on the thighs and back.
    • Effect of Cupping
      • Draws energy into the skin
      • Pulls toxins out of the body.
  8. Vibration
    The elbow is bent, the fingers, hand and forearm held stiffly, the fingertips are placed on the parts to be massaged which is shaken by trembling, pressing movements. The entire hand is used when vibrating large surfaces, such as the abdomen. The vibrating hand should remain temporarily in one spot, then move distinctly to another, as in massage of the stomach. Long continued vibration has a quickening effect, but is very tiring for the masseur.
    • Effects of Vibrations
      • They relieve pain.
      • They loosen scar tissue and stretch adhesions.
  9. Energy May the force be with you.
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