3 Common Massage Therapy Techniques

A massage session performed by a trained and competent massage therapy professional is an effective way to beat the stress of modern living. Regular sessions of massage go a long way in controlling conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Below are three common massage therapy technique to expect at a massage therapy clinic.


Effleurage is a common technique used in massage therapy. The masseur spreads a lubricant over an area of the client’s body and massages that portion with open palms. The therapist performs motions towards the heart, applying a slight pressure and reverses direction, releasing pressure. An uninterrupted contact with the client’s body is maintained at all times. The strokes are gentle and long, applied with uniform pressure. Effleurage is performed very lightly.

In a deviation from the usual method, the professional uses the forearms, fingers and sometimes, even knuckles to do the massage. A slightly greater pressure is applied.

Lymph drainage massage is a version of Effleurage wherein the therapist performs the strokes very lightly and slowly. Pressure is not applied at all.

Effleurage enhances blood circulation. This helps in bringing nutrients to the body organs. Effleurage strokes also help in draining fluids in tissues, swollen by oedema and reduce pain. The massage strokes stimulate the production of hormones. This helps to decrease blood pressure, reduce stress and ease depression.

Effleurage is quite a reliable and safe method. It should however, not be performed on rashes, wounds or on a part of a body that has been injured recently.


A masseur performing Petrissage, attempts to lift the skin and the tissues lying beneath it. Petrissage should ideally be performed on relaxed muscles, after application of the Effleurage technique. The motions are gentle at first; pressure is increased gradually. Hands, fingers and even knuckles are used by the therapist to lift, stretch, knead and squeeze the tissues.

  • Kneading – The hand and fingers, along with the thumb are used to lift an area of the skin and the underlying tissues. The therapist then kneads the tissues.
  • Knuckling – The therapist uses knuckles to lift the tissues up and then performs circular motions.
  • Scissoring – In this method, the index and the second finger of both hands are placed on the client’s body. They are brought towards each other, lifting the tissue in between.
  • Wringing – This is almost like kneading, except that the health centre massagetherapist uses the thumb and fingers to twist the skin.

Petriffage offers all the benefits of Effleurage. In addition, it is performed after sporting events to reduce stiffness of muscles.

Friction Massage

This massage technique is useful to treat injuries of muscles and tendons. The therapist performs slow circular motions on the affected area, using fingers. There is an active phase, in which pressure is applied slowly and a passive phase, in which pressure is released. A small interval of time is allowed between a passive phase and the following active phase. For massaging a large area, all the fingers are placed next to each other.

As detailed earlier, friction massage is used to treat injuries. It is best performed by a trained massage physiotherapist. It ought not to be applied within seventy two hours after the injury.

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