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Soothing and smoothing

Effluerage strokes are used for commencing, reviewing, soothing and sometimes ending massages. They are done with the whole hand and sometimes the forearms.

For the recipient, effluerage is a soothing, stroking movement which is supportive and encourages relaxation.

The dictionary defines effleurage as a French word meaning “to skim” or “to touch lightly on”.  It is a method of stroking the body primarily with the hands although other body parts could be used.

Effleurage massage strokes initially work to help the person performing a massage to begin to appreciate the form and texture of the body being treated.  Effleurage begins as a soft, gentle strokinng method to gauge the condition and texture of the skin and the underlying muscles before applying any deeper pressure or stronger massage techniques.

This gentle stroking also helps to warm the underlying muscles in readiness for deeper pressure or the application stronger massage techniques like petrissage. But as well as the above, effleurage also soothes and energises the person being treated, and connects the parts of the body before, during, and to conclude the treatment.

For novice therapists following a massage procedure, effleurage is the finishing technique  for any limb or body area and a stroke to return to when they become distracted.

The technique has many variations:

  • The body is stroked keeping an even but very gentle pressure over the entirety of the palms and fingers.
  • The body can be stroked altering the pressure in the palms and fingers to gently increase pressure into the softer muscles.
  • The strokes can be circular or any pattern
  • On the limbs, generally slightly more pressure is applied to the strokes toward the torso.
  • Effleurage can be used to encourage venous and lymphatic return.

Note sufficient massage oil or other medium should be used to avoid any drag on the skin. The hands should slide freely.

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