Massage Techniques Glossary

Massage Techniques Glossary

By Dorian Bodnariuc

The Swedish massage is the basis of all modern massage therapy variations. It is often called Classic Massage. Various techniques used in a Swedish massage don't sound English and for many of us their meaning is mysterious. Even English terms are hard to understand for many of us.

Effleurage, Petrissage, Tapotement. These are all massage techniques and the origin of these words is French. This article will demystify the meaning of these words for you.

Effleurage is a gentle massage stroke performed with medium to very light pressure in a sliding and gliding motion. It is also called gliding. The stroke has evolved in time, during the initial period of massage development effleurage was a very light stroke. This was necessary to avoid irritation of superficial skin. After the apparition of light massage oils and the spreading of oils on a large scale in the industry, gliding with pressure was possible.

Petrissage is a massage stroke technique that includes kneading, squeezing, or grasping the muscles. The most known is kneading petrissage. The therapist squeezes and pulls the muscle tissue in a similar way to kneading the dough. Historically the Kneading Petrissage was performed on limbs, neck and back. The use of massage oils makes it very difficult to knead the back. As a result, kneading as a back massage technique slowly disappears.

Tapotement is a set of rhythmic percussion movements performed with fingers, fists, palms, or the sides of the hands, (karate chops). Hacking, cupping, fist pounding, and tapotement pincements, (percussion pinching), are all different tapping strokes. Different tapotement moves can have different therapeutic purposes. Therapeutic applications of this kind of massage technique are loosening the mucus of the air passages, relaxation, stimulates muscles.

Friction is a more deep tissue manipulation. Initially this massage technique was performed in such manner that the hands of the therapist were manipulating only the tissue beneath the skin. The surface skin would move with the hand of the therapist like a glove. This would allow great amount of friction to be performed without irritating the surface skin. The modern massage has changed the technique to adapt it to the use of massage oils. A major progress is the apparition of cross-fiber friction technique.

Vibration is a massage stroke performed with a high frequency in a shaking manner. Rocking is a variation of vibration.

Other great massage strokes are:

"Nerve strokes" - extremely light strokes for relaxing the patient, (effleurage nerve strokes and tapotement nerve strokes).

Compression is a massage technique used to reach the deep muscles, or to perform reflexology.

Stretching is used to restore the joints their flexibility.

There are other great massage techniques and therapists create new strokes all the time.

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