How to Massage: Basic Techniques Used By Massage Therapists (w/ Videos)

How to Massage:

Swedish massage is a massage technique that is most often used by massage therapists to increase relaxation, increase circulation, and improve range of motion. Pressure is applied on the body using the fingers, hands, and forearms to manipulate the soft tissues.

Swedish Massage Techniques Used By Registered Massage Therapists

1. Effleurage

The Effleurage massage technique literally means to guide, stroke or touch lightly. It uses gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and fingertips.

Effleurage is a manipulation in which the entire palmar surface of the hand are molded to the contours of the body and applied in a stroking motion towards the heart. These massage strokes used in Swedish massage, are used to warm up the muscles before performing deep tissue work using petrissage.

The effleurage method is a soothing, stroking movement that is usually used at the beginning and the end of the massage therapy treatment.

How to Massage – Effluerage Massage Technique

2. Petrissage

From French pétrir., “to knead”, petrissage are massage movements with applied pressure that compresses underlying muscles. It can be superficial or deep.

This massage technique uses kneading movements using the hands, thumbs, fingers, and forearms. The movements are applied with one or both hands using alternative pressure to press and release soft tissues. Pressure is applied by lifting the soft tissue up from underlying structures, or by compressing down, toward underlying structures.

Kneading, wringing, skin rolling and pick-up-and-squeeze are petrissage movements.

How to Massage – Petrissage Massage Techniques

Petrissage Techniques:

a. Kneading

a movement applied with the palms, thumbs, fingertips, knuckles or forearm in a circular motion. Types include, fingertip, palmar, double thumb, knuckle and forearm kneading.

b. Wringing

applied by lifting a muscle group away from underlying structures. Between the palm and fingers of both hands, with opposing force and moving the hands from side to side with full palmar contact.

c. Picking Up

applied by lifting muscle tissue with palms, fingers or heel of one or both hands in a circular motion with pressure in the direction of venous flow.

d. Skin Rolling

skin is grasped between thumb and fingers and rolled slowly.

e. Muscle Compressions

pressure is exerted toward a muscle or muscle group and the underlying structures. Hand may be reinforced or single.

f. Muscle Squeezing

slow, deep, squeeze of a muscle.

g. C-scooping

palmar surface of the hand, thumb and fingers are used to alternately pick up and release tissues in a circular and scooping manner.

h. Muscle Stripping

a manipulation in which the thumbs, fingers, palms, ulnar border of hand, knuckles, and forearm are used. It could be single, reinforced, supported, and applied with a moderate to deep pressure in a motion along the fibers of a muscle.

Petrissage Massage Therapy Technique Variations Video:


3. Frictions

Friction massage therapy technique uses compression and motion that is intended to disrupt and breakdown existing and forming adhesions (knots) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

This deep tissue massage technique is used to increase circulation and release areas that are tight; particularly around joints and where there are adhesions within the muscles or tendons. Friction is defined as “an accurately delivered penetrating pressure applied through fingertips.”

No lotion is needed for this massage technique.

How to Massage – Frictions Massage Technique

4. Vibration

Vibrations are a massage technique in which tissues are pressed and released in an up and down movement. A vibration massage creates a vibrating and shaking motion onto the muscles that can be performed in a soothing or stimulating way. Oscillations to the tissue; static or running manipulation, are performed with the palmar surface or fingertips, in which the hand is rested on the area and vibrated while maintaining contact.

Vibration massage technique is a fine, gentle, trembling movement performed with hands or fingers. This technique, depending on the speed and pressure, can be used to stimulate soft tissues in the body, stimulate nerves, relieve muscular tension and decrease stress. Vibrations at a slower pace are an effective treatment to produce a feeling of relaxation.

This massage technique can be used to relieve tight muscles, reduce stress and improve circulation.

How to Perform Massage – Vibration vs. Shaking, Rocking

5. Tapotement / Percussion

From the French word “tapoter” which means to rap, drum or pat. Tapotement is a rythmic percussive technique where brisk hacking or tapping is used rhythmically using the fingertips, ulnar borders of hands, palmar surfaces of the hands, the fists, or a cupped hand.


How To Perform Tapotement Massage

Different Tapotement Massage Techniques

a. Pincement

In this massage technique, the thumb and fingers are used to perform these light pinching or pecking strokes, as the tissue is gently plucked between the thumb and fingertips. The massage therapist performs alternating pinching actions in rapid succession, quickly pulling and releasing small bits of skin and underlying tissue.

b. Tapping

The massage therapist uses only their fingertips to gently tap the client’s body while keeping their hands loose and relaxed. This is a light percussive technique and can be safely applied to delicate areas like the head and face.

c. Hacking

This tapotement massage technique is performed with the edge of the little fingers, or the ulnar border of the hand, wihile the therapist’s wrists are lose and relaxed. The therapist’s palms are facing each other, while their hands strike the client’s body in succession and in an alternating, rhythmic manner.

d. Cupping

In this technique, the therapist’s hands are held in a cupped position, with fingers together, wrist pronated, while the client’s tissue is struck in a rhythmic, alternating manner.

e. Beating

While the massage therapist’s hands are held in a loose fist, the client’s tissue is struck using either the dorsal , or the ulnar surface of the therapist’s fist.

Keywords: How to massage, how to massage like lmt, how to massage like rmt, massage techniques used by lmt, massage techniques used by rmt, how to massage like an expert