What are the main massage techniques?

Your masseur incorporates five main types of body-work, which affect you in different ways. Generally speaking, massage styles such as Swedish, Aromatherapy and Thai use one or more of these five movements. However, there are literally hundreds of types of massage around the world not limited to these five main massage moves. The following list will help you understand the type of movements used in massage so that you can understand better what to expect from the world’s most popular massages:

Friction – Most massages begin with this method. Long circular movements with firm strokes across your body help warm the skin and muscles. They also help move the superficial tissues in preparation for the next movement, usually effleurage.

Effleurage – This is long, usually harder stroking movements using the palm of the hand. These moves work on deeper muscle tissues and improve your circulation.

Petrissage and Kneading –the therapist uses their thumbs, fingers and sometimes even their elbows to move and soften tougher knots in your body. The method is firm but slow, and relies on precise movements to release those hard to move knots.

Percussion – These movements are faster and more energizing, an often use both hands at the same time. The movements are more stimulating than the previous moves but remain effective at loosening tight muscles and stimulating circulation to the skin and major organs. The main percussion movements include:

Pounding –hitting the body with closed fists, but not too hard!

Tapping – using just the finger tips to excite pressure points and release energy.

Slapping – literally slapping the skin.

Hacking – a karate chop style, mainly used on the shoulders.

Cupping – using cupped hands to stroke the skin for gentle stimulation and aid the removal of negative energy.

VibrationThis is a more unusual movement that activates the nerve endings and is practiced most frequently on the legs. Shaking and trembling movements are used by both hands up and down the body in quick succession to gently stimulate your skin, muscles and nervous system.

These moves form the basis of the most popular methods of bodywork in the whole field of complementary therapy. The next time you go for a massage, ask the practitioner what movements they like to use and why, and you will get an even better understanding of how massage can help your wellbeing. You could even learn to do these movements yourself and help improve the wellness of others!

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