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 Common Terms

  

 Massage consists of four basic types of movement

 Effeurage | Petrissage | Friction | Tapotement

 

  

Effleurage means long, soothing, stroking  movements which are performed using the flat  of the hand or fingers. One can apply oil evenly to the entire body using this method. Relax the hands and mould them towards the contours of the body. Apply slightly more pressure when you take the stroke in the direction of the heart to improve circulation and lymph flow. If  you are working away from the heart, keep the pressure firmer on the return  strokes. Following a fairly slow and continuous movement is essential. 

If Effleurage is used at the start of a massage, it helps in soothing and helping  your partner get used to your touch. It also gives a relaxing finish, if used at the end of a massage. In between, it helps in providing more stimulating strokes.

 

The movements which involve various ways of kneading, rolling and picking up the skin and muscles, is called Petrissage. These movements help in strengthening the structures by stimulating the deep layers of tissue, and also help in increasing the supply of blood to the area. At the same time, they also improve the flow of lymph.

It believes in working out a single group of muscles, or an individual muscle, at a time. It is performed by starting first with the fingers pointing away from you, then pressing down with the palm, grasping the flesh between fingers and thumb and pushing it towards the other hand.  A continuous action is followed which involves alternating the hands to squeeze and release. Light kneading eases the top muscle layers, while firmer kneading works on the deeper muscles.

 

Using the thumb, fingertips or knuckles, one can apply deep direct pressure to one particular site of muscular tension. This type of massage is called friction or ``connective tissue massage". It is very useful for focusing on specific areas of tightness and muscle spasms in the back. 

Static pressure is applied by leaning gradually into the muscle, slowly deepening the pressure without the rotation action. Press for a few seconds, then gradually release. Knuckling on the other hand is used in a loosely clenched motion, to release tension up the sides of the spine and in other areas. Remember not to work right on top of the spine bone.

 

The fast and stimulating movements of massage are termed as Tapotement, or percussion movements. They include cupping, hacking, pounding (also called pummeling). Tapotement should not be used on a particularly bony area or on broken or varicose veins. The key to perfection is to keep the hands and wrists relaxed. These movements stimulate the blood circulation, tone and help strengthen sagging skin and muscles, especially the soft tissue areas, such as thighs and buttocks, which are prone to cellulite.

While cupping, gently curve the hands to make a loose-cupped shape, bending at the knuckles while keeping the fingers straight and firm, do not bend the fingers too far over. Using the cupped palm, make a cupping action against a fleshy area, alternating the hands quickly, thereby creating suction against the skin. 

While pounding (or pummeling), loosely clench your fists, keeping the wrists relaxed. The wrists can either stroke your partner with the outer edges of the loose fist or with the front of the knuckles. The speed and rhythm of the movement will be brisk and firm, alternating the hands, without too much thumping. 

While hacking, the outer edge of the hand is used to stimulate the area by striking it quickly with alternate hands. The movement is brisk, working rhythmically and rapidly over very relaxed wrists and figures, and use the sides of the palm rather than the fingers. Hacking also helps in toning up the muscles and dispersing the fluids.

 

 

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