Kneading, pounding and manipulating the muscles, tendons and ligaments releases tension and improves circulation. Increased blood flow brings oxygen to tissues and helps to disperse toxic waste products, thus relieving pain and promoting healing.
When muscles are overworked or tensed, whether from awkward movement, over-straining or as a response to stress, chronic muscle pain can develop. Massaging sore muscles can ease discomfort, and the techniques are not hard to learn. If the muscles are very painful, begin gently and very gradually progress to deeper strokes.
Massaging Away Muscle Pain
The most widely used stroke is effleurage. This is a smooth flowing stroke designed to relax the person being massaged. Effleurage is useful for linking together other more intensive massage strokes including petrissage, percussion and friction.
Although massage is usually a very safe therapy, it should always be avoided if you have varicose veins, any sort of skin problem, including cuts and burns or a serious disease such as cancer or osteoporosis.
The Effleurage Technique
Use both hands to apply long, gliding strokes that follow the direction of the muscle fibres. Strokes should always be towards the heart.
The Petrissage Technique
Sometimes called kneading, wringing or rolling, petrissage is a squeezing movement applied across the muscle fibres. It helps to break up knots and tension spots in the muscles and in the myofascial layer between the skin and muscles. Electric massage pillows and hand-held deep tissue massagers can also be used to perform this type of massage function.
The Friction Technique
A variety of petrissage, the friction stroke uses the thumb and fingers to apply small circular motions usually in a single spot or in a series of spots.
The Percussion Technique
Striking with the sides of the hands, percussion, which is also known as tapotement ot hacking, can be stimulating (lasting under 2 minutes) or relaxing (over two minutes).
Tips for Giving a Massage
- Make sure the person being massaged is warm and relaxed.
- Use the weight of your body to press down – not just your arms
- Vary the speed and type of stroke
- Use enough massge oil to let your hands glide over the skin.
- Include essential oils or an essential oil diffuser as part of the massage experience to set the mood and tone of the experience.