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massage techniques: everything you need to know

Welcome to the physiogain community and today we are going to talk about a very interesting topic “massage techniques“. We will be covering every aspect of therapeutic massage. Therapeutic massage is also known as soft tissue manipulation.

Massage is a manipulation technique of soft tissue of the body with a major focus on the treatment of stress or pain.

These techniques are performed by hands and are used to produce positive effects on the nervous, muscular, and respiratory systems.

Physiological effects – body responses to massage in two ways:-

Mechanical response – direct effects of STM on the soft tissues being manipulated.

For example – increasing blood circulation, reducing swelling, and breaking up scar tissues.

Reflexive response – indirect effects of soft tissue manipulation techniques on tissues. For example – increasing the diameter of the blood vessels, reducing blood pressure, and general relaxation.

Reflexive responses to STM


  • It will increase blood circulation
  • Decrease in your blood pressure
  • The release of histamine and acetylcholine causes dilation of blood vessels
  • Increases systolic stroke volume
  • Increases RBCs, WBCs, Platelets
  • Decrease ischemia

Lymph and lymphatic system

  • Decreases lymphedema
  • Strengthens immune system


  • Keeps your skin healthy
  • Increases your vasomotor activity
  • Decreases the formation of superficial keloids and excessive scar formation.

Nervous system

  • Increases in your dopamine and serotonin levels
  • Decreases the stress-related hormones
  • Stimulates and soothes your nervous system

Muscular system

  • Decreases the stiffness
  • Decreases the muscle spasm
  • Increases the blood circulation
  • Increases the extensibility of muscle fibers
  • Breaks adhesion forming between the muscle fibers

Benefits of a correct posture during massage

  • You can easily control the direction, pressure, and rhythm of the movement.
  • You can perform each technique with very little input of energy.
  • Mechanical stress on the therapist’s own body is minimal.
  • deep and effortless breathing patterns.
  • The therapist is well-grounded throughout the treatment.

Massage techniques

PetrissageKneading – palmer kneading                  
– finger pad kneading                  
– thumb pad kneading                  
– knuckle kneading                  
– Reinforced kneading
Picking up
Skin rolling


It is a long, soothing, stroking movement performed with one or both hands.

It is of two types – superficial effleurage, and deep effleurage.

Superficial effleurage

massage techniques
massage techniques
  • A person should be lying on his stomach or in a prone lying position.
  • The therapist should stand at the side of the person, with one foot slightly behind but in line with the other.
  • We can use lubricants such as talcum or oil.


  • The talcum or oil is poured over the whole back region to avoid unwanted friction and uneven strokes.
  • In this technique, both hands are placed on the lower back region (on both sides of the spine).
  • Hands should be kept relaxed.
  • Both of the hands should move longitudinally from just above the sacrum to the lumbar, thoracic, and axilla.
  • As your hands move upwards, mild pressure is applied through the hands with the help of your body weight.
  • As your hand approaches the upper thoracic region, are slide towards the axilla, and the pressure is gradually released
  • After completion of each stroke, hands are returned back to the original position from the axilla to the lateral wall of the thorax.
  • When your hands return, pressure should not be applied but fingers maintain contact with the skin.

Deep effleurage

In this case, we need to maintain the wrist in a neutral position, there should be no ulnar or radial deviation.

If you want to increase the pressure then you can reinforce one hand with the other one.

Basically, strokes of this technique are circular, parallel to the long axis of muscle or muscle group.

Therapeutic effects

  • When we apply this technique, it will Increase your lymphatic and venous return from the region
  • Dilates the superficial arterioles.


  • Newly formed scars
  • Infected areas
  • Hypo and hyperthermia
  • Acute orthopedic injuries
  • Open wound, burn, and ulcers


In this technique, the therapist compresses, lifts, squeezes, and releases the tissues with varying amounts of pressure, drag, and glide.


  • In this case, the therapist alternately compresses and releases the muscles and tissues.
  • Movement takes place in a circular motion which is divided into two phases pressure and release.
  • Your hand or fingertip with pressure should move over the underlying structure with the skin during a one-half circle, known as the pressure phase.
  • After the pressure phase, pressure is released and your hands glide smoothly over the other half-circle, called the release phase.
  • Both pressure and release phase should only take up to 3-4 seconds.
  • the therapist applies the pressure only during the half-circle of the complete cycle.
Palmar kneading
  • The therapist uses the whole palm to put pressure upward and inward in a circular motion (applies over large areas).
  • Pressure is applied during an upward half cycle and released during another half (downward) of the cycle and then moves to an adjacent area.
Finger pad kneading
massage techniques
  • Applied over a small area.
  • In this, one or more finger pads are placed over a target structure and then we start moving finger pads in a circular manner which includes the pressure and release phase.
Thumb pad kneading
Thumb pad kneading
  • We use this technique over small areas(wrist, ankle, elbow joint, and face).
  • This therapist applies pressure with the help of a thumb pad.
  • The circular motion includes pressure and release phases.
Knuckle kneading
Knuckle kneading
  • In this case, you should apply pressure with the help of your knuckles over the affected tissue.
Reinforced kneading
Reinforced kneading
  • To increase the amount of pressure, an extra effort is required for effective treatment so we make it possible by placing the other hand over the hand which is used to deliver pressure.

Picking up

  • In this technique, we follow a sequential pattern which is as follows:-
  • Step 1 – compression of tissues/gliding
  • The therapist grasps, lifts, and squeezes the skin, subcutaneous tissues, and muscles. – step 2
  • Step 3 – therapist releases the compression and then places the hands-on an adjacent area to start the next stroke.


Wringing massage techniques
  • In this case, the therapist grasps the Skin with muscles and is lifted and squeezes alternately with both hands in the opposite direction to each other.
  • Step 1 – your skin with the muscles is grasped between the thumb and fingers and then lifted away from the underlying tissues.
  • Step 2 – tissue is pulled towards the therapist’s body by pulling the fingers of one hand and at the same time, the thumb of another hand pushes the tissue away from the therapist’s body.
  • This forms an S-shaped curve.

Skin rolling

Skin rolling massage techniques
  • In this technique, the therapist rolls the skin and subcutaneous tissues over underlying structures.

Therapeutic uses of petrissage

  • Reduce stress, and anxiety.
  • To increase range of motion.
  • To mobilize skin and subcutaneous tissue.
  • Decrease pain during labor.
  • To increase the extensibility and mobility of connective tissues.


  • Acute inflammation
  • Malignant disease
  • Infection
  • Acute musculoskeletal injury

Percussion or tapotement

  • In this case, the therapist strikes the part which needs treatment by various modified positions of hands.


  • In this case, the therapist strikes the patient’s body alternately with cup-shaped hands.


  • In this case, the therapist strikes the patient’s body with the dorsal aspect of the fingers heel of one or both hands.


  • In this case, the therapist strikes the tissue of the patient’s body by the medial edges and dorsal aspects of the fingers.


  • In this technique, The therapist strikes the tissues by the ulnar border of the hands.


  • Rib fractures
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Unstable cardiac condition
  • Spastic muscles
  • Cancer or tumors


In these massage techniques, The therapist delivers the repetitive, specific, compressive strokes to the affected part of the body.

friction massage techniques

Superficial friction massage

  • It is a fast rubbing of the body’s surfaces.
  • The therapist places the Adducted Thumb with both hands over the skin and moves simultaneously in opposite directions over the skin.

Deep friction massage

  • It is a small, repetitive localized, deep penetrating stroke performed by the fingertips, thumb, or olecranon process of the elbow in a circular manner.


In this massage technique, The therapist performs the fine shaking strokes on the patient’s body with a single or both hands.

vibration massage technique


  • when we apply this technique, there is a reduction in chronic edema.
  • Before and after operation to clear the secretion from lungs.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


  • We don’t use this technique when there is Hyper areflexia
  • Spasticity
  • Hypertension
  • Acute pulmonary embolism


The therapist delivers the Rhythmic, shaking strokes over the patient’s body.

If you have any queries regarding this topic then you can mention them in the comments below and we will try to answer it as soon as possible.

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