4 Massage Techniques You Can Use at Home

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There’s seemingly no end to the benefits of massage, from relaxation to relief from pain and other health conditions. But as wonderful as a massage session from your regular massage therapist is, it’s likely not a daily indulgence. Between appointments, you can learn a few of the same massage techniques your massage therapist utilizes, such as these four standard strokes in Swedish massage (the most common form used in the United States), to treat yourself to a DIY dose of massage therapy at home.

1. Effleurage

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A “massage therapist’s bread and butter,” effleurage is a term derived from a French word meaning “to touch lightly.” This is one of the most common strokes brought to the massage table, but it’s all too easy to underestimate due to its simplicity. Effleurage is often used to begin a massage, spreading any oils or lotions as the massage therapist steadily skims the skin. This calls for a gentle touch—in effleurage, the skin often doesn’t move even as the massage therapist’s hands move over it.

In other cases, the massage therapist would practice a deeper effleurage, applying pressure towards the heart. The effects of massage with this stroke include improved blood flow and lymphatic drainage. At home, you can use this massage technique to help you or your partner relax, apply a lotion or oil, or begin a more intensive massage therapy session.

2. Petrissage

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Petrissage, a type of massage technique that’s particularly popular in sports massage, is defined by the Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing as “a movement in massage that involves the lifting of tissues away from underlying structures.” Petrissage is a more deep-tissue massage technique than the gentler effleurage through kneading, squeezing, rolling, and otherwise working the muscles. Both standard strokes promote blood flow and lymph circulation, among the other positive effects of massage. Study up some of the basics of this and other massage techniques to relieve sore muscles and other injuries.

3. Friction

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If you or your partner seek a more in-depth massage therapy session, a friction massage can provide pain relief, among other benefits. Research suggests that this technique can help treat tendonitis and tight joints, moving the skin and underlying tissues in one motion with the massage therapist’s fingers. Friction is one of the more profound massage techniques, so it’s important to adjust your partner’s pain tolerance pressure. Like with other deep massage therapy techniques, you’ll want to use the most muscle strength you can without hurting the person being massaged.

4. Tapotement

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Another of the different types of massage you can try at home, tapotement, is unique in offering a distinct rapid rhythm with each stroke. This massage therapy style might include slapping the skin with the palm and fingers, hacking the skin with the outer edge of the hand, or tapping the skin with the fingertips. With this method, you’ll want to be sure to avoid any particularly sensitive or bony areas, using this classic Swedish massage technique to relieve chronic pain, fatigue, and related symptoms.

If you’ve ever had a massage therapy session with a trained massage therapist, you’re likely familiar with these four standard strokes of a Swedish massage. Whether you’re in the United States elsewhere across the globe, you can use these same massage techniques to turn your bed, couch, or floor into an at-home massage table, letting you or your partner indulge in some of the benefits of massage therapy without an appointment. Whether you’re seeking some extra pain relief between sessions or need to relax after a long day, these techniques will help you give yourself or your partner a massage whenever you need it.

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