Effleurage is the most basic massage movement and is often used as a linking movement by which the therapist maintains contact with the client while smoothly transferring from one movement or area of the body to the next. Effleurage is suitable for use on any area of the body that would normally be massaged (obviously while avoiding any areas in which massage is contra-indicated).
The word "effleurage" is derived from the french verb "effleurer" which means "to stroke", or "to skim over". These translations are basically correct, but are incomplete, descriptions of the effleurage technique used in massage.
An effleurage movement is a relatively slow and smoothly continuous stroke using the flat of the hand. The fingers are generally held together and moulded to the contour of the client's body in a relaxed way. Although the fingers preceed the palm of the hand as it is moved along the body, and they do apply some pressure, most of the pressure during this movement is applied by the palm of the hand.
Even pressure is applied during effleurage. The amount of pressure may differ between the outward and return strokes - generally with more pressure applied in the direction towards the heart, then slightly less in the return movement back to repeat the sequence. The speed of the motion should remain steady throughout the whole sequence.
An effleurage movement is usually repeated several times over the same area on the body. This is to induce relaxation, and for the other physical benefits of effleurage, which can include:
- stimulating the nerves in the tissues worked
- stimulating blood supply to the tissues worked
- facilitating cleansing of the skin
- relaxing muscle fibres
- reducing muscle tension
Contact must be maintained throughout the whole sequence - so, for example, a therapist would not take her hands off a client during a seuence of 3 effleurage strokes. Instead, each stroke moves smoothly and continuously into the next.
Note: If in doubt about the safety of a massage movement don't perform it - seek advice from a tutor or other appropriately qualified person.
This section consists of short summaries about the classical massage movements. This list of massage techniques is not exhaustive. For more general information about massage see also:
This page is in the section about massage manipulation techniques.
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