Whether you’re in Cape Town, New York or London, massage therapy is seen as something of a luxury, even though it’s not that expensive and, due to its proliferation in recent years, more accessible than ever before. It generates a lot of talk among friends and in online communities – talk often limited by a lack of massage-relevant vocabulary.
Here are a couple of techniques you should familiarise yourself with to speak like a massage therapy veteran (and impress your friends)…
It’s pronounced efloo-rahzh and is a French word meaning ‘to touch lightly on’. You can spot the effleurage technique when your therapist performs light circular strokes using his/her palms or thumbs. It’s aim is to gently increase blood flow to the muscle, which in turn will provide it with more oxygen and nutrients, and rid it of toxins.
Pronounced petri-sahzh, this technique follows on the effleurage and can be described as two-handed kneading. The aim of this technique is to apply pressure and compress underlying muscles. This massage therapy technique is usually performed using the palms or finger tips and may involve the wringing and rolling of skin, as well as the pick-up-and-squeeze movement. This slow, rhythmic massage technique loosens tight muscles and increases mobility.
We’ve all seen this one performed on TV and in films . In fact, it seems to be the favourite technique of massage amateurs – percussive strokes. These strokes can be performed by tapping with the finger tips, chopping using stretched fingers, cupping with cupped hands, slapping using open palms or pounding with fists (don’t worry, it’s all done lightly). Percussive strokes tones the muscle and warms it up.
You’ll recognise the friction massage technique through its slow, firm stroking or circular movements. This technique moves the superficial layers of muscle over deeper ones, and is used to ease muscle tension, reduce muscle spasm and even to treat scar tissue.
You won’t miss the shake, rattle ‘n roll of this technique as your therapist rapidly shakes your upper back, buttocks or thighs. This technique is performed using the entire hand, or simply the fingers. Its aim is simply to stimulate the nervous system by acting on nerve centres.
So there you have it – Massage Therapy Vocabulary 101. If you’d like to experience any of these techniques first hand, or find out about others, just give us a call.