Techniques Of The Massage Therapist Trade

A good massage helps to relax your tired body and even relieve your back pain. This article by Tiffany Olson outline several techniques commonly used by massage therapists.

massage therapiesYou may already be a fan of pampering yourself and take pleasure in knowing the added health benefits you are receiving every time you treat yourself to a day at the spa, and you most likely are aware of the numerous different types of massages offered out there, some of the most popular being Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, Thai, reflexology, pregnancy, Shiatsu and sports. What you may not know are the various techniques that licensed massage therapists are trained in for each of those massage types. Massage therapists couple these techniques with their own style, some working faster and deeper while others have a lighter touch.  For your basic massages, there are seven main techniques that therapists rely on to rub you just the right way.


Most massage therapists begin and end many of their massages with this light and soothing technique to “warm up” the body and increase stimulation before applying deeper pressure. Effleurage is usually executed in a hand-over-hand stroke or with the palms working in a circular motion.


Petrissage is best known as kneading, and helps loosen up the different layers of tissue as the massage therapist tends to your body just like they would if kneading dough. This technique uses the palms, underside of the hands and fingertips to also include rolling the skin, squeezing and knuckling.


Friction is typically used in deep tissue massages by a therapist to break up gathered tissue in one specific area. Pressure is applied in a circular motion adverse to the way the muscle runs or in a back and forth motion, called cross-fiber friction.


Massage therapists commonly use stretching in Thai massages when they move their client’s arms and legs into assisted yoga-like positions. Hands and forearms locked at the elbow are usually used to apply firm, rhythmic pressure.


Tapotement is another warming-up technique used specifically in a Swedish massage to stimulate the nervous system and release lymphatic build up. Using a cupped hand, the edge of the hands or tips of the fingers, tapotement is administered in a rhythmic way by beating, hacking, slapping, cupping or tapping.


Sports massage therapists are often seen using the vibration technique, which is great at relieving stress and tension and helps the body become alert. Contracting the forearm causes the fingers to vibrate, creating the feel for the massage.

Deep pressure

Using a modified combination of the techniques mentioned above will form the deep pressure technique. Applying hard pressure slowly and with the forearm develops the deep tissue massage, which works to dissolve scar tissue and anything that has accumulated between the layers of tissue.

Depending on if you are strictly looking for a bit of tranquility and stress control or symptom and pain relief, understanding the different methods of techniques that massage therapists practice will help you in choosing the perfect therapist and massage that will leave you with a positive experience and feeling nothing but relaxed and refreshed.

Tiffany Olson is a passionate blogger who writes for small businesses to help increase their online presence. This article was inspired by The Desmond House, a small bed and breakfast in Northern California (Redding) that offers the services of a professional Redding massage therapist.

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