Good communication is essential to effective massage. The client and practicioner should discuss the type of treatment expected: intention of the massage, goals of the session, areas to be massaged and to be avoided in full body massage, the amount of pressure that is comfortable, preferred techniques and how they affect the body. In the spirit of informed consent, the client’s medical history and current physical condition should also be discussed.
Deep muscle massage is widely used to treat many ailments: carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back pain, headaches, poor circulation, whiplash and more.
It is also great for simply validating the sense that “I’m alive”. I offer half price massage on people’s birthdays, because it is a great way to help people validate themselves and to encourage them to reflect on their existence as infact ‘ecstatic’.
Deep tissue techniques are generally designed for more focused massage work. Working a specific joint, muscle or muscle group, the practitioner can access deeper layers of the soft tissue. Starting superficially and easing into the depth of the muscle slowly often allows more movement and less resistance to having the muscle worked. This is the recommended approach in this modality since each person experiences pressure differently. If the pressure is applied too deeply or too quickly, the muscle may tighten to protect that area, and unnecessary damage or inflammation can be induced. Very little lubricant is used as the pressure doesn’t travel much over the skin.
Effleurage from the French effleurer, ‘to skim over’, consists of long, flowing or gliding strokes, performed with open hands. In many massage sessions, effleurage is used as the initial type of work, as it has a calming effect when performed slowly. Effleurage is usually performed in the direction of the heart to promote circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Petrissage (from the French pétrir, ‘to knead’) is one of the five basic strokes of a Swedish massage. It is performed with kneading movement with the whole palm or finger tips, wringing, skin rolling, compress and lifting. Petrissage is usually applied vertically to the muscle tissue.
The benefits include the warming of tissue for deeper work, increased circulation, increase of the supply of nutrients and oxygen to muscle, softening of superficial fascia, decreasing muscle tension, and restoring mobility by decreasing adhesion.