Effleurage (Gliding Strokes)
Effleurage is a general stroke, used on all parts of the body, it is used to begin and end a massage, and as a transitional stroke to ease the flow from one movement to another. Effleurage is a gentle, soothing stroke, using hands or forearms to move over the body with long strokes, feathering or circling.
Petrissage (Medium-depth Strokes)
Petrissage works a little more deeply, you continuously alternate your rhythm, helping to relax the muscles, draining away waste products and aiding circulation. Kneading is alternately squeezing and releasing the flesh in a broad circular motion. Pulling is a firm lifting stroke used on the torso & limbs and with wringing, the hands move toward each other from opposite sides, so the flesh bunches up and then stretches between them.
Friction (Deep Friction Strokes)
Friction work is deep & focused, using thumbs, fingertips, heels of hands or elbows! This type of touch penetrates below the superficial muscle layers and around the joints. The massage therapist would use their bodyweight to add depth to the pressure of the stroke, which may be Thumb-rolling, pressing the balls of the thumbs away from you into the flesh, using short deep strokes or small circles. Heel of Hand pressure, pushing the hands gently but firmly forward into the flesh, letting your hands move alternately and rhythmically. Fingertip pressure, pushing in around the joints with your fingertips. Elbows, used often when you find a knot, just allowing the elbow to rest next to or on top of the knot and waiting patiently for it to soften.
Within holistic massage, percussion is in a category of its own, unlike the other strokes, its movements are stimulating, rather than relaxing. Percussion uses a range of brisk rhythmic strokes performed repeatedly with alternative hands. Percussion stimulates the soft-tissue areas, such as thighs and buttocks, toning the skin and improving the circulation. Hacking uses the sides of your hands, alternately drumming them up and down, the hands need to be relaxed allowing movement in the wrists. Cupping uses a 'cupped' hand and uses the same alternating strokes as hacking, your cupped hands trap air against the skin, then release it, making a loud clapping noise. Plucking alternately plucking or pinching small bunches of flesh between your thumbs or fingertips allowing the flesh to slip easily away between the fingers with each stroke.
Skin rolling lifts skin from underlying tissues, rolling either along the length of the body or across it to seperate the superficial layers, enhancing circulation and making further deep massage easier.
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