Massage is defined as the manipulation of soft tissues of the body. Performed by the hands for the purpose of producing effects on the vascular,muscular and nervous system of the body.

For therapy purposes general massage can be seen as a means of either inducing relaxation or invigorating the system depending on the choice or combination or massage movements.

Classification of massage movements.

Effleurage : stroking movement.

Petrissage: compression movement: picking wringing ,skin rolling.

Tapotement: percussion movement-Hacking,cupping,pounding,beating.




These movement being,link and complete the massage routine and are applied with the entire palm,exerting even pressure over the area.

Pressure is exerted in the direction of the nenous and lymphatic flow. The return stroke should be extremely light and gentle, and hands must be flexible and under perfect control so that the entire palmar surface will be in contact and mould to the area being massaged. The movement include:

  • Superficial effleurage
  • Deep effleurage
  • Superficial stroking
  • Deep stroking.
  • Benefits and Effects

Helps clients to become accustomed to the therapist’s touch.


  1. Stimulation of sensory nerve ending bring about a response in the skins circulatory network.
  2. venous and lymphatic flow increased
  3. Relaxation of contracted muscles may be obtained through the reflex response of stoking.
  4. A general feeling of relaxation is accomplished which can be very sedative.


  1. Aids venous circulation by mechanical response to pressure
  2. Arterial circulation aided by removal of congestion in veins
  3. Lymphatic circulation is improved therefore waste products are removed
  4. Aids Desquamation
  5. Aids relaxation
  6. Re-establishes relaxation during massage routine when used to link more active movements.


This is a compression and lifting the tissues away from the underlying structures (bone)whereby pressure is firmly applied and relaxed. The movement is also termed kneading. The degree of pressure exerted must be reduced on less muscular areas. Performed with one or both hands.The movements include:



As with all massage the hands must be subtle and relaxed.,kneading has many variations according to the shape,size and bulk of the area treated. The pressure is given in the direction of the nenous bloodreturn to the heart. Kneading may be performed with one or both hands on relaxation the hands glide slowly along the muscles being treated. Keading consists of:

  1. Flat handed kneading
  2. Circular kneading
  3. Finger kneading
  4. Thumb kneading
  5. Finger and thumb kneading
  6. Double handed kneading/ironing.
  • 1- Flat handed kneading

Used mainly for working on large thin sheets of muscle such as the back,where squeezing is impossible and a greater depth of pressure can be achieved.

a-slight increase in circulation

b-aids relaxation due to its gentle rhythm and superficial effects.

  • 2-Circular kneading

Performed with one or both hands working alternatively either side of the body along  the length of the limb. The muscle shaft tissue is pressed against the bones in a circular direction. The pressure should be deep otherwise skin rubbing especially if the muscles are not massage against the bone.

  • a)    The main effect is on the muscles aiding a better blood supply therefore muscles are nourishedand feed so helping maintain elasticity & tone.
  • b)    Improved bllod supply,removal of waste,helps elevate stiffness after muscular exertion.
  • c)    Sedative and relaxing effect.
  • d)    Pressure agains the bone nourishes the periosteum
  • e)    Aids digestion,relieves flatulence and constipation when performed on abdomen.
  • 3-Finger and thumb keanding

Performed with pads of the thumb or fingers ideally used around the shoulder girldle down each side of the spine, soles of the feet and hands. Again the muscle is pressed against the bone and moved in a circular direction towards venous flow.

  • a-    produces hyperaemia within small muscles and aids nourishment.
  • b-    Stimulates and aids tone to the muscles,so can be refreshing and stimulating to someone who has been standing all day.
  • c-     Used lightly for more delicate massage as on face.

IRONING (also called reinforced kneading or double handed ironing.

The techniques of ironing are reinforce one hand on the other so obtaining greater depth together with body weight. Heavier structures maybe moved against the bone as found in the gluteal region or the back.

  • A Aids relieving low back pain where no medical condition exist.
  • B-Loosens and stretches soft tissue making joints more mobile

Performed slowly,can be soothing and relaxing.


Performed with one or both hands depending on the area being treated , movement should be smooth and rhythmic continues from one end attachement of the muscle to the other. The muscle is grasped with the whole hand making sure that the thumb is completely abducted. The muscle is lifted away from the bone squeezed and released again, I a plodding manner. This can be applied with one hand to scruff of the neck which is awkward to manipulate , pinching between the thumb and fingers must be avoided.

  • a. Ideally used on extremely heavy or fatty area in conjunction with hacking
  • b-Can be used on heavy , thick tissue such as the gluteal region where there may not be much mobility of the tissues.


Wringing lifts the structure away from the bone and move them from side to side across the length of the bone , moving the thumb of one hand towards the fingers of the other hand , after  the tissues have been grasped and stretched the hands move alternatively along the muscle from one end to the other.

  1. increases the circulation and thus nourishes and feeds the tissues.
  2. It is chiely used on large loose muscles groups so improving tone elasticity
  3. It is a manipulation that produces heat quickly and absorption is assisted so large fatty areas are treated with this manipulation as they can be more reasily broken down.

Benefits and effects.

  • Compression and relaxation of muscle tissue causes vascular and lymphatic vessels to be emptied and filled thus increasing circulation and  removal of waste.
  • Eliminates fatigue by removing lactic acid from the muscles..
  • Hard contracted muscles are relaxed preventing the formation of fibrosis in the tissue.
  • Correctly applied compression movements provide a toning effect on muscular tissue and could aid natural exercise


This can be used where there is some underlying hard bone against which the tissues can be rolled. It effects the skin and subcutaneous tissues,the skin and soft superficial tissues are grasped firmly between finger and thumbs and gently rolled backwards and forwards against the thumbs and fingers. It shouldbe performed transversely across the limbs or back

  • a-    stimulates blood and skin increasing nutrition and function of the skin.
  • b-    Breaks downs and absorbs fatty tissues
  • c-     The skin can be loosened over tight areas making it soft and subtle and helping to relievetensions and adhesions.
  • d-    Elasticity of the dermis is improved and maintained.
  • e-    Performed slowly it can induce relaxation,briskly it is invirogating.


All tapotements movements are stimulating and should only be used if a general toning effect is required,rather than relaxation.These incluse pinching,hacking,cupping,beating and pounding. They consist of striking tissue,both hand alternatively,the wrists are kept loose and mobile so that the movements are light,springy and stimulating.

Benefits and effects

  • a- very stimulating effect is produced on the circulatory system
  • b -erythema is produced locally
  • d-    Sensory nerve ending are irritated bringing about vaso-dilation of blood vessels
  • e-    Local rise in skin temparature
  • f-     Reflex contaction of muscle is produced.


Light and fast movement performed with ELBOWS OUT,WRISTS EXTENDED FINGERS RELAXED. Fifth, fourth and Third finger strike the tissue. The action being sharp and rapid. Hold the hands at right angles to the wrists,palms face eachother but do not touch .

  • 1.cause muscle fibres to contract momentarily. Invigorates muscles,nerves
  • 2.Blanches skin for a short period due to contraction of  superficial blood vessels.
  • 3.If given heavily for a long time could cause dilation of blood vessels, erythma and a change in skin temperature and therefore metabolisim
  • 4.fatty tissue may be broken down.


Elbows out The hands form loose cups producing a clapping sound.They form a vacuum like effect on the surface producing an immediate erythema (redness).The hands must spring off the area being treated.

  • 1.cupping increases blood flow and condition of the skin.
  • 2.Loosen mucus to hollow organs eg.Lungs
  • 3. increases temperature to the area
  • 4.Increases circulation of the area treated.


Fingers are loosely closed and the hands strike quickly and turn inwards back towards the therapist.


Form loose fists. The movement is performed with the assistance of gravity. The arms dropping from shoulder level to strike the body. A change in skin colour should be immediate if correctly applied. (erythema)

  • a.Helps break up fatty acids deposits
  • b.Imparts healthy glow to the area being treated and tones up the muscles
  • c.Helps tone up sagging muscles.


Concentrated movements exerting controlled pressure on a small area of surface tissue,moving them over the underlying structured. The movements are applied in a circular manner with the palm,thumb pads or fingers. The movement completes several small circles over a limited area,placing a degree of stretch on the underlying structures.

  1. Loosen and strectch scar tissue
  2.  Adhesions prevented-unatural growing together of body tissues due to inflammation,are broken down such as stiff joints or fibrositis conditions usually found in the back.
  3.  prevents formation of fibrositis if applied at regular intervals.


Fine trembling movements performed on or along a nerve path by the fingers or thumb. The muscles of the forearm are continually contracted and relaxed to produce this fine trembling or vibration.

  1. Stimulates and clear nerve paths
  2. Brings about relaxation
  3. Relieves tensions.


  1. Blood supply increased – helps stiffness etc…
  2. Increased oxygen delivered and waste products removed.
  3. Muscles kept in tone – althought not as effective as exercise
  4. Body temperature raised,
  5. Tense muscles relaxed and stretched
  6. Useful when helping to correct postural deformities.
  7. Petrissage- improves tones and delays wasting.



  1. Pressure against the periosteum increases circulation – nourishes bone
  2. Maintain mobility of the joints
  3. Mild postural deformities can be helped,
  4. Allow free movement by prevent joint adhesions.

Effects on Circulatory and LYMPHATIC

  1. Superficial small veins-effleurage will increase flow of blood through thses vessels.
  2. Improve removal of wate product
  3. Improved distribution of oxygen and nutrients
  4. Dilation of superficial blood capillaries
  5. Increased bllod supply to the skin
  6. Accelerated Lymphatic circulation eg: Kneading squeezes lymph tissue spaces and effleurage moves it to the nearest gland.


  1. Circulation to skin is improved.
  2. Circulation to secretory glands improved more sebum produced-supple skin
  3. Increased desquamation-skin breathes easier.
  4. Sensory nerves ending soothed.


Little if any effect. However,certain school of thought believe the heat produces when massaging due to the increased circulation leads to the fat being absorbed by the circulation and along with the increased metabolism is burnt up more quickly.

It is also believed that fatty globules released while massaging are made more available to the lymphatic system. However if massages breaks down fat in local areas without diet and excerise to back it up, it will merely be deposited elsewhere,therefore diet and exercise must be part of any fat reducing scheme,


  1. Invirogating and stimulating to the nervous system
  2. Brings out a reflex effect
  3. Soothes-produce sleep reaction
  4. Revive tired nerves- revitalising them
  5. Tissue and organs influenced ex Stomach stimulated,more digestive juices produced.


Effects involuntary muscles- improve their action peristalsis increased ( constant contraction and relaxation of muscles in a wave form)

Aids constipation to some degree.

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