5 Easiest Massage Therapy Techniques
To become a qualified and licensed massage therapist, one has to go through a therapeutic massage program after graduating from high school or after acquiring the equivalent credentials. Then, after passing the program, a massage therapist can apply for their license, and subsequently a business license should they wish to practice solo.
Throughout this process, learning for a massage therapist rarely ever stops, for there are many different techniques, styles, and tools involved in giving massages. Moreover, training to become a massage therapist is no joke; you will be required to master a variety of these techniques and continue honing them.
Just like any other art form, giving a massage is quite similar to creating art. The movements and pressure applied are akin to brush strokes on a painting, and when done expertly, can be appreciated in both circumstances.
However, not everyone wishes to pursue a professional career in massage therapy, and instead would like to learn a few techniques well to be able to provide a certain kind of massage well. For couples, families, and friends, there are many techniques at the beginner level that can be easily performed at home without risking the physical safety of the client in question.
This article will inform you of the most common and effective techniques used in massage therapy, techniques that you can try out on your partner after they have had a tiring day at work. Alternatively, you can use these techniques to relax and rejuvenate on difficult, stress-ridden days for a better one the next day.
So, without further ado, here are five of the most popular massage therapy techniques used today.
Perhaps the most easily performed by amateurs, kneading involves either using your thumbs or your palms to apply pressure onto various parts of the body. The idea here is to pull the muscle away from the bone, a practice that helps reduce muscle spasms. The technical name given to kneading is Petrisage, which is used mostly in textbooks on massage therapy.
Kneading is one of the first techniques ever taught to students of massage therapy and is therefore slightly easier to get the hang of as opposed to the others. However, the speed and intensity of pressure applied onto the skin and muscles are also important factors to learn.
If you are giving someone a massage, one way to learn how much pressure and speed to use is to ask the client their preferences. Otherwise, you can begin by adjusting the pressure and speed according to how the client responds while massaging them.
Remember, as a masseuse, you should always ensure that the person you are giving the massage to is not experiencing any pain or discomfort. Start by using light pressure and slower speeds, and then work your way into it according to what your client tells you.
2. Effleurage (Light/Deep Stroking)
This method is yet another one used fairly commonly in salons, parlors, and at masseuse stations. It involves using your hands to apply little amounts of pressure onto the skin. In this technique, the hands are to remain flat as they glide over the body, and can involve using oils or creams for added comfort.
Effleurage is often used at the beginning and end of a massage to achieve the most comfort and relaxation for the client. The goal here is to ease the muscles for other, relatively more intense techniques, while also encouraging blood circulation to various parts of the body.
If you wish to know how to incorporate this technique into your massage, simply begin by using light, soothing strokes onto the body while keeping your hands flat open. You can use circular motions to gently massage the skin, and to some degree increase pressure if the client desires.
When used with slightly more pressure, the technique can be used to remove muscle knots and tension from the body. This technique is commonly used in various styles of massages, such as Swedish massage for example.
As the title suggests, the rubbing technique essentially requires the use of thumbs typically moving in a circular pattern, applying pressure as you go along. This method is used to stimulate blood circulation within the body, as well as to treat muscle and joint pain.
When rubbing the skin with your thumbs, you are essentially treating localized parts of the body, especially where muscles are stiff or where joints hurt. At a greater pressure, rubbing can be incorporated as a technique into a deep tissue massage to relieve stiffness and/or discomfort in the deeper layers of the muscle tissues.
Different kinds of movement patterns can fall within the rubbing technique, as long as you are using two thumbs. These movements, although similar in many regards, may, in fact, be called a different technique depending on how and when it is used by massage therapists all over the world.
For example, rubbing can also be termed a sub-category of kneading, otherwise termed the deeper effleurage.
4. Tapotement or Tapping
A tapping massage is normally used in sports massages as it is one of the best techniques to improve blood circulation in the body. In this massage, the massage therapist uses their hands in swift motions to tap various parts of the body, most notably the back, thighs, and buttocks.
In a tapping massage, the hands can either be cupped so that only the edges of the palm and the fingertips tap the skin or by tapping the skin using when the hands are laid side by side. Depending on what feels better to your client, you can adapt the method to use a particular manner of tapping.
Another thing to remember when using the tapping technique is to tap rhythmically in a rapid fashion. You can also curve your hand or straighten it depending on what your client enjoys, as well as the intensity of pressure you apply.
Sometimes you might focus on one area of the body that is particularly stiff and painful for the client. You might want to combine the tapping with a hacking motion, in which a significant intensity of pressure is applied to a smaller area of the body.
5. Vibration Or Shaking
Finally, this technique is in some regards quite similar to tapping, as it also involves rhythm. Using either your hands across a large surface area (such as the back, for example) or your fingers (across the face), you are to lightly shake the muscles at a fairly fast speed to mimic a vibration going through the said area.
This technique typically does not involve a lot of pressure, as the idea is mostly to provide a soothing sensation for the muscles and nerves within the body. Additionally, this technique has also been recommended by many therapists to massage around and even over scar tissue.
Therefore, if you are massaging someone who is sensitive to greater intensities of pain, then using the vibration technique is ideal. Not only will it not be uncomfortable for the client, but will also provide their nerves the relief they desperately need.
As with other techniques described above, a massage therapist needs to ensure that their client is not in any kind of pain while the massage is being delivered. The best way to do so is by communicating with the client directly.
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Author Michael Kaliko DC