Your Guide to the most Common Types of Massage Strokes
Feb 20, 2018
While almost all types of massage strokes are designed to promote relaxation and relieve muscle tension, there are a few key differences between techniques. In this blog, Elements of Rockville Centre explains the difference between several of the most common types.
6 Massage Strokes you’ve Probably Experienced Before
Effleurage is a stroke that’s used in nearly every different modality. It involves the massage therapist using their hands, knuckles and/or forearms to provide long, gliding strokes across your body.
Since it’s relatively gentle, it’s often used at the beginning of a massage to apply lotion or oil, as well as ease the body into the session. As the muscles begin to relax, the pressure level of the strokes will likely intensify.
Petrissage refers to the kneading, rolling and wringing of tissue with the massage therapist’s thumbs and knuckles.
Since it works great at freeing up muscle knots, petrissage is often used abundantly during deep tissue massages. Other benefits of petrissage include increased blood flow and lymphatic drainage at the area of the body that’s being worked.
Friction is also one of the most common massage strokes used to loosen muscle knots. The massage therapist will rub both hands in quick movements along the part of the body being worked in order to generate warmth, helping the muscles to relax and unwind.
Tapotement consists of the massage therapist gently, rhythmically tapping on the body using their fists, the side of their hands or cupped hands.
It’s used to stimulate muscle nerves and promote circulation, and will typically only be used occasionally during a massage.
Vibration involves the massage therapist using their fingertips or the heel of their hand to perform a back-and-forth motion over your skin. It can be done quickly or slowly, depending on your personal preferences and the goal of the massage.
This helps loosen up muscles in particularly tense areas, usually the lower back or shoulders.
6. Fascial Techniques
Fascial techniques are used to loosen and heal the fascia, a type of connective tissue that surrounds every muscle and bone of the body. There are several different massage strokes used to engage the fascia:
- “C” Bowing: the massage therapist’s thumbs are placed together while their other fingers grasp your skin. They gently pull on your skin and press their thumbs into the tissue
- Cross Hand Fascial Stretch: the massage therapist presses the palms of their hands gently into the skin until it’s taut
- “J” Stroke: the therapist holds their knuckles in a “J” shape and increases pressure on your skin. This technique focuses on the deepest layers of tissue, so it’s often used sparingly
These are some of the most common types of massage strokes you’ll likely experience during you next massage. Remember to only trust licensed massage therapists to perform these techniques, or else injury could potentially occur.
Disclaimer: Elements of Rockville Centre is not an organization of healthcare professionals. All authoritative claims in this blog have been linked to their sources.