Massage Therapy: A Step By Step Guide
Different Types Of Stroke And Pressure:
There are a variety of different strokes that can be used, ranging from the most delicate touch with the fingertips to focussed deep-tissue work. All strokes can be varied in speed and pressure. Keeping your hands relaxed; begin working slowly and rhythmatically gradually building up speed and pressure as you experiment.
Some basic points:
1.As a general rule, strokes should be made firmly in the direction of the heart, and then lightly for the return stroke.
2. By varying their intensity, strokes can be used either to stimulate or relax.
3. Ideally the receiver should experience the massage as one long series of rhythmic strokes.
Avoid working only from your hands and shoulders. Use the weight and movement of your whole body to improve the fluidity of your strokes and to help you when you wish to use more pressure.
- 1. Gliding:
This stroke is used a great deal throughout the massage sequence and is particularly useful for applying oil to the body. It can be a feather-light or a firm re- assuring stroke. Keeping the fingers together and hands outstretched, glide the hands forward along the length of the body or limb, retaining contact with the flat of the hand. The strokes you employ can be either long or circular, using one or both hands. The function of gliding strokes is to relax and stretch your partner’s muscles.
Kneading is a firm stroke used on a specific area to help release muscle tension and improve circulation. Gently grasp the area(e.g. calf, thigh, or fleshy area over the hip) with both hands and make a kneading action similar to that of kneading dough.
A light-to medium-pressure stroke which relaxes and stretches the muscles and improves circulation. Use either the heel of the hand on larger areas (e.g. thigh) or the thumbs on smaller areas(e.g. calves, forearms).With one hand following the other, push firmly using the heel or thumb of first hand and the next, travelling slowly upward along the limb or muscle.
This stroke can be used to pull and stretch the muscles of the trunk, and the legs. Use alternating hands in a pulling motion, gradually moving them up the body.
This stroke is similar to “pulling”, but works right across the body or limb. This is a good stroke with which to finish a particular sequence and can be used on the torso, legs, and arms. Start with hands placed either side of the body or limb. Moving the hands in a forward and back motion across the body, progress slowly up toward the head.
6. Friction Strokes:
These are deeper strokes which allow you to work around joints and into the muscles and tendons, to iron out knots and release tension. Using the thumbs or fingertips, work slowly and firmly into the area, making tiny circular movements. Different individuals will prefer different pressures-some will only be able to tolerate light pressure, others will want you to work as deeply as possible.
7. Percussive Strokes:
Percussive strokes, such as hacking, cupping and plucking, are used to stimulate areas, improve circulation, and release muscle tension. They can be used on the shoulders, arms, legs, buttocks, and gently along the back. Do not use percussive strokes directly on the spine. These strokes are not an essential part of any massage sequence, but you may wish to incorporate some of them into your routine. They can be performed very lightly, or with more intensity, as appropriate. Remember to keep your hands and wrists as relaxed as possible.
With hands open and palms facing each other, make an alternating “chopping” motion up and down the body. As a variation on this stroke, curl the fingers into loose fists to create more of pummeling effect on the body.
Cup hands and face palms downwards. Keeping hands cupped, gently beat up and down along the body.
10. Pinching Or Plucking:
Gently lift small amounts of flesh and let it slide through the fingers.
Added by :Eddie Jackman
Acupuncturist,Physical Therapist and Sports Therapist based in Waterford
For treatments or appointments please call 087 6701166