What are the Stages of Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is an ancient form of healing that has been used for thousands of years. Trained and licensed professionals use this traditional healing method to help heal injuries and manage pain. Different massage techniques are used for different ailments, and each culture has added their own massage and stroking techniques to the old therapy. The rise of pharmacology and medical technology in the 1700s led to a decline in massage therapy, but it was made popular again by Per Henrik Ling with Swedish massage.

The five basic massage movements used in Swedish massage therapy are effleurage, petrisage, tapotement, friction, and vibration. Effleurage is a light or deep stroking movement that is designed for relaxation and stress relief. It is often used first during a massage session, as it allows the technician to become familiar with the client's body. Petrissage is a kneading movement that targets deeper layers of tissue, including the connective tissue and underlying fascia.

Friction is a technique in which the technician rubs their hands hard against the client, creating a warmth that loosens the body for deeper massage movements. Tapotement is a rapid tapping motion that is usually done with the side of the hand. Vibration is a back-and-forth movement against body tissue that helps penetrate deeper areas of the body. Inter-fiber friction is when the massage therapist applies repetitive pressure against the direction of the muscle fibers.Effleurage is usually done with the therapist's hands and forearms, and it helps with the client's circulatory health.

Petrissage uses kneading, squeezing, and other tougher pressing techniques to attack deeper tissue and achieve relaxation. Vibration helps increase blood flow to organs, while inter-fiber friction helps break up scar tissue. Tapotement can be applied for longer periods to fatigue muscles, while vibration is a final massage technique that helps further relax the body.