Full Body Massage Therapy Techniques | For Your Wellbeing

Full Body Massage Therapy Techniques | For Your Wellbeing

Massage may be common to many and unfamiliar to others, depending on culture, society, traditions, habits and preferences. Movements, techniques or strokes all refer to the manipulation of the musculature during a massage. Based on the type of massage, gentle or stronger full body massage therapy techniques are applied, and the final objective is the well-being, as well as the balancing of the body and mind, of the person receiving the massage.

Skeletal muscles are of vital importance in the human body, as they enable us to move around and do things. Massaging of the muscles benefits our whole body to function properly through contraction, elongation and relaxation of the muscles.

What is Massage?

Massage therapy is the managing of the muscles, in form of various techniques, by the use of the hands, arms, elbows and sometimes even the feet (in Ayurveda or Traditional Thai Massage).

The repetition of movements will release the tension in the muscles and will aid the blood circulation, lymph drainage and activation or calming of the nervous system.

Massage is sometimes used as complementary medicine to reduce stress and anxiety.

The massage serves for healing or relaxation purposes including;

  • general relaxation to soothe physical or emotional pain.
  • aid the body to flush away toxins.
  • fitness and body toning.
  • injury recovery.
  • disease prevention.
  • energy balancing

What Is Massage Manipulation?

The movements or techniques used depend on the type of massage, whether it is a gentle or deep tissue massage. Gentle massage is ideal to unwind or to initiate or end a massage, while stronger and deep tissue massage is more directed to heal and treat chronic conditions.

Perhaps the massages we are most familiar with for relaxation is the Swedish massage, which includes various manipulations tagged;

  1. Effleurage | Long and light gentle strokes.
  2. Petrissage | Short and slightly stronger and faster movements than effleurage that may include picking or lifting and squeezing, pushing and also rolling of the skin.
  3. Friction | Slow and controlled movements that go deeper into the tissues.
  4. Tapotement | Nice and firm but gentle and fast tapping movements.
  5. Vibration | Slow vibration movements whilst keeping the hand on the same spot on the skin.

8 Types Of Massage Therapy Technqiues

The following are the more common massage therapy techniques.

Below you will find more details on each and every method and manipulation, and you can refer to it when giving a massage or when doing self-massage, or simply be aware of when you receive your next massage, then you will know what is going on and why.

The speed and pressure of the strokes vary with each type; you can have gentle or rhythmic and rapid movements, in short, long or circular movements.

Massaging is usually done in the direction towards the heart, however, with effleurage or light massage, it is okay if the massage strokes go in different directions.

So here goes the list of massage therapy techniques:

1. Long gliding, caressing strokes, also called effleurage

are normally applied at the beginning of the massage session for different reasons; to spread the oil if any is used, to warm the body and also to get the first sensory contact with the skin and the guest receiving the massage.

The movement is done using both palms and giving long strokes along the area you are working on, being the back area, thighs, arms etc.

The same movement is applied at the end of the massage, basically as a soothing technique to slow down and relax the body and the guest will also know that the massage session is coming to an end.

full body massage therapy techniques_long_strokes

2. Kneading

Kneading massage is implemented by using the fingers, thumb or palm to stretch and relax the muscle, release knots and decrease tension, thus renewing the muscle tissue.

The movement is literally like making dough in circular movements, compressing without sliding. It can be applied to all body muscles.

Reinforced Kneading is carried out by putting one palm over the other and knead along the same way as described under Kneading above.

full body massage therapy techniques_reinforced_kneading

3. Pinching

using thumb, index fingers and middle fingers, whereby you grab the skin, lift it and pinch along. This is very good for blood circulation, as when the muscles are tense then motion is restricted and it is important to move the blood flow to unblock toxins accumulated around the knots.

full body massage therapy techniques_acupressure_points

4. Acupressure

is performed directly on the trigger points or muscle contraction to alleviate the pain, and it is applied by the fingers or thumbs in a press and release movement. Acupressure comes from ancient Chinese medicine and it is very popular and widely used today. Acupressure points are located all over the body along the meridians or body channel lines.

5. Myofascial Skin Rolling

is done in various ways; lifting the skin, compressing it and moving it back and forth; or lifting the skin, compressing it and alternate by pinching with one hand and then the other one, as you keep moving down in the area, or else by pushing in one direction and rolling it back down.

Use the thumb and fingers with both hands and use less or no oils. This movement is ideal to loosen the fascia, that is, the connecting tissues between muscles, bones and organs.

full body massage therapy techniques_acupressure_points

Before applying the skin rolling it is important to warm the skin and stretch the muscle, perhaps by applying cross-hand fascia stretches, to elongate the muscles first. Some skin can be very tight and cannot possibly be lifted until the skin becomes flexible which is usually achieved after receiving various massages.

6. Friction

is done by using the back of the hand or the arm to the elbow area, but can also be completed with the fingers and the knuckles. The movement is slow but firm and controlled. Friction reaches in the deeper tissues. This method is suitable for a sports massage and overworked muscles.

full body massage therapy techniques_elbow_friction

Knuckling, that is, friction with the knuckles is ideal on the gluteus area where more strength can be applied.

full body massage therapy techniques_knuckling

7. Vibration and Shaking

This is a movement where you are using the client´s body.

Vibration. You put a firm hand on the body and you vibrate holding the hand in the same position. This can have an energetic or relaxing effect.

The shaking goes slower but with bigger movements, and you press and shake the body keeping your hands flat on the body.

full body massage therapy techniques_tapping

8. Tapping

this method can be done using the thumb and index finger, or all the fingers held in a curved cup manner. If you are tapping the gluteus or calf muscle you can go faster but have to go gentler on the lumbar or kidney area for example, as some areas are more delicate.


Do not carry out massage on varicose veins, broken skin, open wounds or inflamed skin.

It is normal that the skin becomes red during the massage as you are bringing more blood to the tissues.

What Is A Massage Chair ? – Way To Go

If you are new to massage, I suggest that next time you are at a shopping mall or at an airport, have a look around the waiting areas, and if you see a Massage Chair, drop in a coin, sit on it and give it a go. It feels like having a thousand hands massaging all your muscles at once. A very pleasant sensation.

The idea is to discover the health benefits your body achieves by making massage part of your self-caring lifestyle. Then slowly you can start looking for your favourite massage technique.

I hope you enjoyed this article and get to treat yourself to a massage one day soon.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4979265/ Comparing the effects of two Swedish massage techniques on the vital signs and anxiety of healthy women

Photos: Pixabay


8 thoughts on “Full Body Massage Therapy Techniques | For Your Wellbeing

  1. I have recently begun working out again and was thinking about getting a monthly membership to a massage place. I have a close friend who is a certified massage therapist and she has filled me in with a little bit of the different types of massages and their benefits, but not entirely, so this was extremely helpful. 

    If I do choose to sign up for a monthly membership, I want to make sure I am informed enough to know which types of massages will be best for me and my personal needs. 

    I carry stress in my shoulders pretty bad and I have severe knee pain, so I always take those things into consideration. My favorite type thus far is just the long gliding and kneading. However, I am also very interested in acupuncture and have heard a lot of amazing things about it. 

    1. Hi Kara, thank you for writing about your interest in massage. It is good to read and learn about the different techniques, but the best way is to try it out and see what works well for you. It is of vital importance to find a good therapist though, as it makes all the difference. 

      Take care and hope you manage to get rid of the shoulder and knee pain. I suggest you also try some natural anti inflammatory like Manuka honey or ginger. 

  2. Hi Marisa. Thank you for sharing this article on full body massage therapy techniques for healthy muscles. I know massage would have some benefits but I was never familiar with the benefits except for body pain relief.

    I remember when I was living with my aunt, I have helped her with some massaging (stepped on her back and walk on it) 😆

    I really learnt alot from this article.

    1. Hi, body massage works well as prevention for health issues, since the circulation of blood will enhance the tissues to function properly. 

      Haha, I´ve seen that happening before. People with stiff muscles really enjoy being stepped on for relief. Now you know some more techniques that you can surprise your aunt with. Thank you for writing. 

  3. My friends usually tell me that they want body massage and I kept wondering what they liked about it. Now I know why they keep pressing for it. I have read some articles about body massage lately but none of them is as comprehensive, well structured and easy to comprehend as this one. 

    I remember reading about accupressure some days ago from this blog. It’s really nice being here.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi, thank you for your kind words and for coming back to my site. I´m glad you enjoy the information. 

      With regards to massage, usually it does become addictive, especially as it is so calming. 

  4. I have a friend who does massages, he actually just opened up his own shop. I want to share this page with him to see if he can add any of the techniques you have listed into his practice. He keeps telling me that I need to get up there and get a massage myself, I think after reading this post that I may take him up on it! This sounds so refreshing, thank you for sharing! 

    1. Hi Travis, that is nice; wish your friend best of luck and thanks for sharing my article with him. I hope you enjoy the massage. 

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