Thursday, August 16, 2012

Massage for Loved Ones

Deviating from the present topic slightly. I was asked to explain the 4 basic massage strokes for people wanting to apply lotion to themselves, or for massaging a loved one. I thought it might be good to share:

The 4 basic massage strokes of traditional Swedish Massage (what we picture when we think of massage) are:

Effluerage: gentle to slightly firm stroking with your full hand or fingertips. Usually done from the direction of the tip of your toes/fingers towards your torso. Good for warm up/starting a massage/applying lotion.
Petrissage: more of a kneading of the muscle. Done with a cupped hand, or fingers grabbing, or one hand "feeding" the muscle into the other hand. This is what you see in movies a lot.
Compression: gentle to firm pressure of simply leaning on a muscle for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute.
Tapotement: beating on the muscle with the side of the hand/fingertips/cupped hand position/soft fist. This can be a final stroke to wake up, or done for over a minute is very relaxing.

Important tips:
1) you should NOT give a massage if someone is sick, especially with a fever. Or drunk. Or on any injuries. This will only make things much worse. Wait.
2) you should gently warm the muscles before going deeper. If you don't, you will bruise them, it will hurt, and they won't like you.
3) simply leaning in, gently, with a palm or elbow can feel very good, and be very effective. You don't have to constantly use your fingers to knead and push and prod. This is extremely tiring for the person giving the massage, and doesn't always help or feel best anyway!
4) Always ask your partner how it feels. it's THEIR massage, not yours.
5) if you need treatment, and not just a few minutes, leave it to the professionals. We're trained, we're licensed, we're legal. (see other blog entry: Massage FAQS)

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