Massage Strokes

Massage strokes are influenced by:

·         Intention

·         Speed

·         Pressure

A variance in one or all of the above changes the way a ‘routine’ massage will feel.

This means that by variance of pressure and speed, we can make a forearm stroke relaxing or very therapeutic.

Ultimately this gives us a repertoire of strokes that is almost endless in possibilities as to the outcome. The only requirement is that you think about the desired outcome and employ strokes to that end.

Probable Outcomes:

OK – Need Feedback


Need For Feedback


Excellent Relaxation

Good General
Good Therapeutic
Hands – Single/Both

Forearms, Knuckles, Elbows, Palms etc can all be used effectively all levels


Effleurage is used more than any other of the massage techniques. Any stroke that glides over the skin without attempting to move the deep muscle masses is called effleurage. The hand is moulded to the part, stroking with firm and even pressure – usually superiorly. Effleurage can be applied all over the body.

This stroke is usually used at the beginning and end of every massage as well as in between other strokes. It accustoms the client to your touch and allows sensitive fingers to search for areas in need of deeper work during the massage. It serves to distribute whatever lubricant you may be using. Deep effleurage provides a passive stretch of the muscle or muscle group being worked.


·         It is used by stroking towards the heart and towards the glands to assist the venous flow and lymphatic drainage.

·         The depth of stroke pushes fluid onwards to superficial vessels.

·         It has a relaxing effect both psychologically and physiologically and prepares muswcles for deeper work.

·         It increases blood and lymph flow into and out of the area being worked.

·         It accustoms you and your hands to the client.

·         It provides you with invaluable information about your client.


Pettrisage strokes attempt to lift the muscle mass and wiring or squeeze in gently. Pettrisage consists of kneading strokes that press and roll the muscles under the hands. It can be done with one hand where the area being worked is small or with two hands on larger areas.


·         It is a powerful stroke that gets to the heart of muscle tension, and literally squeezes out the tension, tightness and toxins.

·         Assists in the elimination of waste products (Through the lymphatic system) improving the body’s metabolism and interchange of tissue fluids.

·         Useful for assessing the state of muscles, identifying tension and tightness by how difficult it is to lift the muscle.

4 types of Pettrisage

1.       Kneading – Muscle is lifted away from the bone and the compressed against the underlying structure.

2.       Wringing – Tissues are compressed against their underlying structures prior to lifting them. Once lifted the muscle tissues are compressed against themselves.

3.       Muscle Rolling – Working across muscle fibres and along the axis of the muscle, the muscle is lifted between the fingers and thumb and rolled away from the masseur.

4.       Picking Up – Tissues are compressed, lifted up and squeezed, using the ‘V’ of the hand across the central line of the muscle bulk.


Friction is performed by small, mostly circular movements with the tips of the fingers, thumb, knuckles, elbow or heel of the hand, according to the area being covered. This can be a static action, circular or transverse. Transverse frictions are applied across the muscle fibres.


Friction massage is used to massage deep into the joints’ spaces or around body prominences such as the patella. It is especially useful around a well-healed scar to break down adhesions between the skin and tissues beneath it. It cannot affect deep fibrositis such as might form within a muscle belly.


Any series of brisk, soft blows following each other in rapid, alternating fashion, come under the term Tapotement. Some of the main strokes are hacking, cupping tapping and pincemeat.


·         Stimulates skin or muscle reflexes


A fine tremulous movement, made by the hand or fingers placed firmly against the part, causing the area to vibrate.


Loosens mucus, reduces odema, loosens scar tissue and adhesions around joints.


Loosely grab a muscle group between the thumb and fingers, softly squeezing and shaking the muscle moving along the full length, from origin to insertion.

Assists relaxation of the muscle

Muscle Shaking

Muscle is shaken by shaking a limb.

Assists relaxation of the muscle


Grasping the muscle belly in your hands, apply a 90 degree rotation to the muscle holding for 30-60 seconds then moving to the opposite side (e.g. medially then laterally). The aim is to stretch and release the fascia surrounding the muscle/muscles.

Forearm Pressure

For use on larger muscle masses like the glutes, back, quadriceps, hamstrings and posterior calf. Apply pressure though the flat forearm to the muscle mass to be worked on. Apply pressure by leaning over the muscle mass (use your weight not your strength) then very slowly move from distal end of the muscle to the proximal end. ‘Strip’ the muscle in three sections for the likes of the hamstrings and work three times.


Works on the deep layers of muscles generally not adequately worked.

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Malcolm Calcutt

In the last century, a mechanical fitter by trade. Now re-invented as a Soft Tissue Therapist that uses past skill sets to enable better understanding of your presentation. Loving the ability to have a difference in peoples lives through greater awareness and education. Quiet time is traveling, exploring our past around the world, Antiquities hold so much lost knowledge and understanding about being human.
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