When learning how to give a massage, the first massage techniques you will probably learn are those from Swedish massage. It is the most commonly practiced technique among therapists. Although there is some question as to just who created the massage techniques used in Swedish massage, the modern version started in the early 1800s in Sweden.
Most often Per Henrik Ling, who was a fencing master and instructor of gymnastics and movement, is credited with devising the system that was then known as the Swedish Movement Treatment. The original system included more than just massage. It included aspects of the ancient Greek and Romans with drinking mineral water and taking mineral baths while also following certain exercise programs. Today it is considered by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) to be the standard against which all massage therapies are measured.
Unlike the massage techniques we have today from Asia, this massage therapy style focuses on long strokes applied firmly. This helps to move the blood and other bodily fluids around and relaxes the muscles. It is believed it can help flush out the toxins from your body as well. Perhaps this is why an Australian study found that massage can help speed healing.
In the Swedish massage style, you will find the massage techniques of effleurage, kneading and friction are mostly used. The effleurage technique is done with the fingers and the flat hand in long, gliding strokes mostly in the direction of the heart. These strokes get the circulation moving increasing blood flow to the muscles which brings in good nutrients and oxygen and removes toxins, bacteria, and other wastes. The motion can also stretch adhesions which are fibrous matter that binds one muscle to another, usually caused by injury. This is why this style will be used a lot in sports massage as well.
Friction is carried out by bracing upon the heels of your hands and then moving the fingers and thumbs in circles. It is for the really tough areas like knots or spasms. The kneading technique is easier to visualize if you have ever kneaded bread. The basics are the same with squeezing and rolling the muscles and normally used applied to the large muscles of the back.
If performing massage upon a clothed person, it should be apparent you will not use oils. Consideration must also be taken as to the activities which will be done following the massage. Since oils feel greasy and also hinder the skin’s cooling mechanisms, anyone getting ready to be very active (long distance runner or other sports enthusiast) should not have a massage with oil.
When first learning how to give a massage, it’s probably easiest to start with a cold pressed vegetable or nut oil. These are easily found these days at your local organic food store. Indeed you may even find some at your local grocery store. Getting one with a pleasant aroma will make the experience better for you and whoever is receiving the massage…which could be you as well. So as you continue to learn how to give a massage, remember you can also be the recipient of all your learn.
Copyright 2007 Sandra K.