There are three main massage techniques that are used by all professionals, each with their own unique functions. Most massage studios offer Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and sports massage. The four basic massage movements are effleurage (light or deep stroking), petrisage (kneading), tapotement (soft slaps) and friction. Effleurage is designed for relaxation and stress relief and is the first movement used in a massage session.
Petrisage, or kneading, helps to separate muscle from bone and can help reduce muscle spasms. Tapotement is a gentle tap or cupping of the skin with the hand to create a percussion-like effect. This movement is preferred by healthy customers with exceptional muscle mass, but it is not recommended for those with ailments. Friction is the concentration of pressure at a specific point and helps release tension at specific points.
Massage therapy is a therapeutic technique that involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body. It is used to relieve pain, reduce stress and tension, or relax, stimulate and tone the body. Kneading is one of the first techniques taught to massage therapy students and involves using your thumbs or palms to apply pressure to various parts of the body. This helps separate muscle from bone and can reduce muscle spasms.
Rubbing involves using two thumbs in a circular pattern to apply pressure as you go. This method is used to stimulate blood circulation within the body, as well as to treat muscle and joint pain. Trigger point therapy is a technique used to relieve pain in specific areas of the body. Pressure is applied to the body with the fingers, hands, and forearms to manipulate soft tissue.
The therapist generally maintains the pressure between 30 and 90 seconds until the client reports a reduction in tension or pain. Myofascial release therapy is an approach used by many contemporary massage therapists to alleviate significant painful conditions. The technique involves identifying areas where the myofascia feels stiff, rather than elastic and flexible, and then providing greater blood flow and flexibility through stretching, stroking, and pressure.