There are many benefits of having a massage, and I must say if you have not had one you are definitely missing out. They can be thoroughly relaxing or quite intense depending on what type of massage you are having. There is even benefits of self massage, although obviously you won’t be able to massage your own back, but massaging your own feet can be quite satisfying. Below I’ll describe some different styles of massage to get you started.
Effleurage: This is the long gentle stroke, that you generally start with. This helps to warm up the muscles and also spreads the oil onto the body. It comprises long, slow strokes moving upwards which can start quite light and gradually move to a bit more firm. This technique helps to bring the blood to the surface and helps warm up the muscles. Use your whole hand held flat, relaxed and your fingers loosely together to do effleurage. Make it calming by using rhythmic strokes up and down the whole part of the body you are working on.
Petrissage: This is called the kneading movement, likened to kneading bread dough. It involves gentle and rhythmic lifting of the muscle with your hands or fingertips, squeezing, twisting slightly, and then relaxing. Petrissage helps with increased circulation and improves lymphatic activity. It is generally a much deeper stroke, so always make sure you do effleurage for several minutes before you start petrissage. Hold your hands close together on either side of the muscle and lift, stretch, squeeze and relax (like kneading dough), keep your hands relaxed and get into a gentle rhythm. Petrissage is usually only done on the fleshier and more muscly areas of the body, e.g. the shoulders, front and back of thighs, sides of the back, on the calves, and not directly over bone.
Friction: This is generally used for deeper work and often done with the fingertips, thumbs or elbows. It penetrates deeply into the muscle and is used on tense and knotted muscles. This should only be done after effleurage and possibly some petrissage, and you need to start gently and increase the pressure gradually, otherwise pain and some resistance may occur. Friction strokes stretch the muscle and body tissues away from the bone, which increases blood flow and lymphatic circulation, which helps in releasing tension and congestion. Start with the fingertips or thumbs, and make small, firm circular or back and forth strokes over the local area.