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Basic Massage Techniques

The techniques covered here are the 'mother' strokes of massage that are practised in the Western hemisphere. Known as Swedish Massage, they consist of effleurage (stroking), petrissage (squeezing), Percussion (tapotement), friction and stretching. These movements can be applied at different speeds and levels of pressure. The most important keys to a good massage are the rhythm and flow, so try to develop this sense and eventually you will not have to think about every stroke you are applying - they will come naturally.

In order for your partner to feel the benefits of a massage, the various strokes need to be applied in a specific order:

  • 'making contact'
  • effleurage
  • petrissage, percussion and friction
  • some stretching, more effleurage and a 'holding' or 'grounding' technique

In general, massage strokes are applied working toward the heart, For example, if you are working on the legs you will appply firmer pressure on the upward stroke and lighter pressure on the return stroke. The procedure for a whole body massage is as follows. With your partner lying face down, make the contact stroke by placing the flat of your hand confidently, and with good pressure, on th sacrum (pelvic bone), then, using the strokes described below work over the whole of the back area, including the top of the buttocks and the lower back, the shoulder blades and the upper back and lastly the sides of the torso. Do not apply pressure directly to the spine: work on either side of it.

Move to the legs, working up from the ankle (reducing pressure over the back of the knee) to the top and return, finishing on the foot. Turn your partner over and begin with the shoulders, working on the back and front simultaneously. Move from the neck upto the scalp, then to the face. Next, massage each arm separately, working up the limb and returning, to finish with the wrist and hand. Next move to the ribcage, the sides of the torso and abdomen. Finish with the legs, again working up from the ankle (avoiding pressure on the knee) to the top and returning, to finish on the foot.

Just as you start any massage with 'contact', you should end with 'connecting' or 'grounding' holds. Either rest your hands on each foot with your thumbs placed on the instep area and apply medium pressure, or place your hands on two separate parts of the body. A whole body massage should take 1 - 1 1/2 hours, but as you become proficient you may wish to concentrate on areas of tension or give short remedial treatments.

Basic Massage Techniques (contd.) bullet

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