home ][ anatomy & physiology ][ massage therapy ][ links ][ contacts ][ help

Massage Therapy >> Theory >> Classical Movements

Massage History

Professional Ethics




First Aid



of Massage


Classical Swedish Massage Movements


Effleurage is used for the application of oil. More pressure is used when moving towards the heart, and less pressure when moving away from the heart, following the venous and lymphatic flow.

The word effleurage comes from the French, effleur meaning to skim over.

The technique is also used as a linking movement. Hands must be relaxed. It can be used to reduce oedemia (water retention) ONLY if the cause is known.



Petrissage is from the French word petrir meaning to knead. It can be broken into three techniques: kneading, wringing and friction.

These techniques involve picking up and sliughtly squeezing or twisting the muscles and are used on all muscular and fatty regions of the body.

Using the whole hand or just the finger tips, the muscle is first squeezed and then release in a rhythmic fashion. As it is released, the muscle relaxes.

Always relax a muscle with effleurage before doing petrissage.

  1. Kneading

    Hands are placed wither side of a muscle with the palms slightly facing each other. The movement is an alternate downward pressure then a picking up, rolling and squeezing of the muscle. Applied on muscular areas such as shoulders, back and limbs. Picking up (lifting up the muscle and stretching it away from the bone) and rolling (lifting a section of muscle and rolling it transversally in both directions) can also be practised as an individual movement.

  2. Wringing

    Like kneading, this movement involves squeezing the muscles and soft underlying tissue adhesion connected to the muscle but giving an additional twist. Hands are placed side by side on a limb and grasping firmly with the fingers, start to work hands in opposite directions. Work up and down the limb, squeezing the flesh between the hands a little at each stroke. Extremely warming and stimulating.

  3. Frictions

    The deepest technique used in massage and is targeted at specific areas of soft tissue dammage like scar tissue and adhesions. Variations are circling, pressing and rubbing. The digit or elbow is used in a similar way as in deep effleurage but even greater pressure is applied. At first applied passively until sufficient depth has been reached and only lesions can then be located and treated using a friction rotation or short rocking movement, whilst maintaining the same deep pressure.



All vigorous, brisk movements which give sequence a more stimulating and toning effect. Tapotement consists of a series of light blows made in quick succession with the movement springing from loosely held wrists.

  1. Hacking

    Must not be performed on or over bones. Performed with the outer sides of the hands keeping wrists close together. Use brisk alternating chopping strokes with the hands. Good on fleshy parts of the body.

  2. Cupping

    Performed with fingers slightly extended and palms cupped to form a hollow. Should not sound like a slap, more like horses hooves. Used on thighs, buttocks and back (fleshy areas)> Cupping is a bouncy, brisk massage movement.

  3. Beating

    Carried out by striking lightly with the palm or surface of a loosely held fist.

  4. Pounding

    Using loose fists and keeping the wrists close together gently pummeling the skin with the padded side of the fists. This technique can be used on fleshy parts of the body and also over muscular areas, e.g. shoulders.



Tremoring movement; fingertips are placed on the client and the therapist performs a tremoring movement from the forearms.


All massage movements must be performed correctly and on areas appropriate for the movement.

Your massage sequence should be adapted to produce a massage suitable for the individual clients' needs.