Effleurage is often used when starting or finishing work on an area, or taking a break from intense work. The therapist uses long gliding motions of varying pressure, according to your needs. Effleurage increases circulation, and warms up the tissue. Therapists use fingertips, palms and forearms to perform this technique.
Petrissage involves rhythmically kneading, wringing, or rolling the muscle to access deeper tissue, often while lifting the muscle. This technique brings blood to the area and separates muscles fibers from one another. The alternate squeezing pattern is very relaxing, as it signals the brain to release tension in the area.
Massage therapists often use tapotement when performing Swedish massage. Using cupped hands, or the side of the hand, (think soft chopping), the therapist will “strike” your muscles with both hands. Doing this for a long period of time (over sixty seconds) will exhaust the muscle, relaxing tension and easing spasms.
Vibration is a less commonly used, but effective, Swedish massage technique. The massage therapist loosens your muscles by using the heel of the hand, or the fingertips, to vibrate your muscles, causing them to release and relax. Vibration is used locally, in small areas where a spasm just won’t quit.