The Massage Techniques: Stroking, Kneading and Picking Up

A handy tool makes a handy man. If giving somebody medicine is the tool using by a doctor to treat illness, a massage practitioner uses his or her hands to treat illness, and the quality of massage manipulations will determine the effect. If you want to learn the techniques and right movements of massage, you must do a lot of practice. If the client is your wife or your husband, I believe you will be careful to do the work properly. When you are performing the manipulations, you should give the client the feeling that he or she is comfortable or happy to have, and this depends on your manipulations. The manipulation should make a steady rhythm on the pace, and its pressure should be moderate. Avoid quick or slow movement, and the pressure should not be too gentle or strong. We must lay great stress on the skill applied to massage, not the force. Rough movements should be prevented, in case the client feels great discomfort. Of course, when we stress the skill of manipulation, it is not to say that we don’t need force, not to mention its effect. What we are saying here is there should be a balance between using force and manipulations.

In brief, it requires a balance among different restrictions to perform the manipulations well, and then we can prevent or treat illnesses. In the following sections, we will introduce some common massage manipulations.

The Effleurage/Stroking Manipulations

The effleurage and stroking manipulations are very similar. If you are not conducting some medical experiments or writing papers, you can think of them as the same. Speaking generally, when you are performing stroking manipulation, you put your fingers and palm on the client’s skin and move horizontally or vertically along a straight line which is one-way. This can excite the muscle and raise the temperature of the skin, which results in improving circulation. Relax your shoulders, don’t shrug them. Your upper limbs should also be relaxed. Put your elbow low, a little higher than your wrist. You maintain contact with the client’s skin with your palm and fingers when performing the manipulation. Your fingers are extended. Push forward steadily and slowly. Keep the pressure when pushing.

The Kneading Manipulation

Kneading belongs to the petrissage manipulations which is compressing tissues. Basically it’s a circular movement which drives the skin and subcutaneous tissues the same circle. When performing this manipulation, your shoulders should be relaxed. Take your elbow as the pivot, and move the lower half of the arm in a circular manner. Your fingers and palm stay pressed against the client’s skin, and they keep more or less static to each other. Then the subcutaneous tissues shift along the movement of fingers and palm. The frequency is 50 to 100 times per minute. You can also perform such a manipulation with a deep tissue massager.

Palmar Kneading

Put the palm on the part of body you want to do manipulation, keep the palm attached firmly and securely. Your wrist is relaxed, with the elbow as the pivot and the forearm as the active swing. The wrist will be driven by the forearm calm and gently. The contacting area is large, so the stimulating effect is mild and comfortable. This manipulation is suitable for large area treatment. Avoid sudden exertion or skin friction during operation.

Finger Kneading

Put the finger on the skin, and make small circular movement. Keep the effect area small, and the pressure strong and firm. This manipulation is used for small area injury treatment. Note that when kneading, the force will be concentrated to the point of the finger, allowing the force to enter and not to prod.

The Picking Up Manipulation

Picking up manipulation is like squeeze. You hold and press in rhythm with thumb on one side and fingers together on the other side. Your wrist is relaxed, and your picking up direction is vertical from the muscle of the client. The process of squeeze and the process of picking up take place at the same time, and after a moment you release the muscle. The strength should be appropriate, and limited to the degree that the part receiving massage aches or experiences slight pain, and feels comfortable when relaxed. The continuity among squeeze, picking up and release should be maintained.

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