What Strokes Are Used In Relaxation Massage?

A relaxation massage involves a qualified massage therapist to use different types of massage stokes during a tailored massage sequence over different parts of the body.

A relaxation massage can be your whole body, or selected areas of your body such as head, back and shoulders, or just feet and head massage. The end result of these massages are the same, which are to help you feel relaxed and stress free.

The different stokes used during the massage are used to encourage different reactions and sensations. At no point should you feel uncomfortable or in pain. You should inform your therapist immediately if you do. Here is a brief description of some of the stokes used during a relaxation massage:

Effleurage is a gliding stoke, this movement can be either used during both deep tissue massage and relaxation massages. It may produce a relaxing effect. It is a French word meaning to skim over or to touch lightly.

Stroking This is slow movement with gentle pressure that is firm enough to feel but yet light enough so there is minimal movement of the skin and muscle.

Supported by research these stokes induce relaxation, improves the quality of sleep, uplifts mood, relieves anxiety, enhances blood flow, enhances lymphatic drainage and likely to relieve pain.

Petrissage This is a group of techniques that repeatedly lift, roll, stretch, compress or squeeze the underlying tissue. The French verb petrir means ‘to kneed’. The intention when performing these moves is to make them smooth and rhythmical manner.

Supported by research these stokes can induce muscle relaxation. There is also a likelihood of increased lymphatic return and relieve pain.

Tapotement This is a repeated, rhythmical, firm, striking manipulation of the superficial and or deep tissue. It described as playing a percussion instrument such as a leather skin drum, the hands of the therapist apply or beat to the body. Such percussive rhythms are applied by the palms, fists and ‘cupped’ and curved fingers.

The hands usually strike the body alternatively, and the elbow performs small bending and straightening movements whilst the wrists are kept relaxed throughout the movement. When performing these techniques, the therapist will ensure excessive movement does not occur at the wrist as pressure on the client could result in a ‘slap’ type movement.

The repeated striking of the tissue with percussive strokes serves to stimulate the underlaying tissue, yet also induces a reflexive response on the whole body. Due to the stimulating effect, tapotement manipulations are left until the end of a massage. Tapotement can be used for a variety of reasons such as; to stimulate the nervous system, to increase the alertness of the client (this is why it is used at the end of a massage), and to stimulate muscles ready for use an example of this is getting an athlete ready for competition.

The stokes used may be applied at varying depth and pressure and include pummelling, cupping, plucking and tapping. These movements sound worse than they actually are!

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