Top 4 Techniques That Massage Therapists Learn in School

  • by Florida Academy Web Team
  • December 17th, 2015

Massage Therapist giving a scalp massage.
When starting a new career as a massage therapist, it is important to understand and master the most popular techniques, as this is what your clients will be looking for in a therapist. There are four major techniques that Florida Academy has all students master in the massage therapy program, to help set you up for success as you start your career. These techniques include basic massage, Swedish massage, chair massage, and trigger point massage. Below is a brief description of each technique.

Basic Massage

The first thing that every student must master is “the basics.” The four basic massage strokes are effleurage-(light or deep stroking), petrisage-(kneading), tapotement-(gentle slapping), and friction. Effleurage is meant for relaxation and the release of tension. This is how you begin and end every massage to ensure that your patient has maximum relaxation. Petrisage, or kneeding, is actually a practice of pulling the muscle away from the bone which aids in relieving muscle spasms. Generally, if anything hurts in a massage session this is it, but this movement is not meant to be painful. The therapist must communicate with the client to ensure maximum comfort. The action of tapotement is much like the name sounds. It is a gentle tapping or cupping of the skin with the hand to create a percussion-like effect. This motion is most preferred by healthy clients with exceptional muscle mass, but is not recommended for patients with ailments. Lastly, friction is the concentration of pressure to a specific point. Using very small, focused, circular motions, friction helps to release tension in specific spots.

Swedish

Swedish massage was actually developed in the 1800s by a physiology professor at the University of Stockholm, by the name of Per Henrik Ling. This technique is focused specifically on anatomy and physiology and how the body’s systems work together. Today Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage in the Western World. The nice thing about Swedish massage is that it is very versatile and can be light or hard pressure, gentle or vigorous, which all depends on the preference of the client. The key to a Swedish massage is to relax the muscle groups systematically and help the body’s systems work together to find full body satisfaction and relaxation.

Chair

Chair Massage is becoming a popular trend across corporate America. Employers are starting to recognize the benefits of massage in the workplace, and the increase in productivity of their employees following a little Zen time. A chair massage takes place seated in a specially designed cushioned chair to provide support to the client and relieve stress on the joints. Typically this type of massage ranges from 10 minutes to 20 minutes, as it is meant to be a quick “pick me up” sort of technique. The goal of a chair massage is to release tension, improve blood flow, and return the client to a positive state of mind. Clients are generally re-energized following a session.

Trigger Point Massage

Okay, a quick anatomy lesson. Myofascia is the soft tissue that covers the muscles, almost like a cushion or padding. Sometimes this tissue will tear either from overuse of the muscle or trauma. When the tissue tears, it will adhere to the next closest tissue while it attempts to heal itself. As a result, you feel pain and pressure and tension where the myofascia has adhered. Many people say they feel like they have a “knot”. Trigger Point Massage focuses on those “knots” to help promote healing of the tissue and relieve any residual pain associated with it. Not only does this technique help to increase the blood flow to the area to promote faster healing but it also attempts to relax the surrounding muscle group and avoid any impingement on near-by nerves.

Master Your Craft

Any well-trained, experienced massage therapist will tell you to master your craft. Understanding the basic concepts and techniques of massage gives you the solid base you need to expand and grow as a professional. Give your career the best start possible by training with our elite team of massage therapy instructors at Florida Academy.