6 Massage Movements: A Comprehensive Guide

Massage therapy is an ancient form of healing that has been used for thousands of years. It consists of specific movements and techniques that are used to help heal injuries and manage pain. Trained and licensed professionals use this traditional healing method to help their clients. Effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, and vibration are the five basic massage movements used in Swedish massage therapy.

Each of these techniques has its own purpose and can be used to target different areas of the body. Effleurage is a stroke that is used in almost all different modalities and is often used first during a massage session. It helps the massage therapist understand the presence of knots in the client's body tissue and also helps with the client's circulatory health. Petrissage is a massage movement based on kneading movements and targets deeper layers of tissue.

Friction massage movement is a basic technique in which the technician rubs his hands hard against the client, creating a warmth that loosens the body for deeper massage movements. Tapotement is one of five massage movements in which the masseur uses the side of the hand in a rapid tapping motion. Vibration is a basic massage technique in which the palm swings back and forth against the tissue, causing that area of the body to vibrate. Effleurage uses long, gentle strokes to warm up the body, apply lotion, locate any knots and stretch the body.

Petrissage is often used after the body is loosened and uses kneading, squeezing and other tougher pressing techniques to attack deeper tissue and achieve relaxation. Vibration is a rhythmic rocking or shaking movement to further relax the body. Inter-fiber friction is when the massage therapist applies repetitive pressure against the direction of the muscle fibers. The tapotement is usually a final massage technique, which is a last method of loosening body tissues.

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 how each massage starts and ends to ensure that your patient has maximum relaxation. Petrisage, or kneeling, helps relieve muscle spasms. Tapotement is a gentle tap or cupping of the skin with your hand to create a percussion-like effect.

Friction is the concentration of pressure at a specific point through very small, focused circular motions to help release tension at specific points. Massage therapy can be an effective form of healing for many people. It can help reduce stress, improve circulation, reduce pain, improve flexibility, reduce fatigue, improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depression, improve posture, reduce inflammation, improve immunity, reduce headaches, improve digestion, reduce muscle tension and spasms, increase range of motion in joints, reduce scar tissue formation, improve concentration and alertness, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, improve lymphatic drainage and detoxification.