Body massage methods

Body massage methods

In practice, nine basic methods of body massage can be distinguished , as follows:

Stroking, squeezing, rubbing, shaking, rubbing, positive (active) and negative movements, movements with resistance, methods of clicking, flicking, with an emphasis on adherence to the sequence of these sequential methods when performing the massage session.

Massage physiology of the body

Body massage methods are sometimes divided according to their physiological effect on the following body organs:

  • Whipping : stroking, rubbing and clicking methods.
  • Muscles : Squeezing, squeezing, foaming, shaking, twitching, tapping, and movement.
  • Joints, ligaments, and tendons : movement and rubbing.
  • It is necessary to define the primary impact tool for the hand of the massager, as on the palm surface there are two basic areas: the primary palm, and the finger comfort surface .
  • Each finger except for the thumb has three sections: the terminal (posterior) intermediate and basal, and there are two elevated surfaces on the palm surface (five toes raised and the thumb elevated) in addition to the ulnar and radial margin of the phalanx.
  • When performing certain methods of massage, the specialist not only uses the resting stomach , but also its back (either with fingers folded at a right angle or straight, or in the form of a fist).


Stroking is a massage motion applied by sliding the massaging hand across the surface of the skin,  without folding or creasing with a certain degree of pressure.

Its physiological effect when massaging the skin is as follows:

  • It gets rid of the dead skin layer and the remnants of the sebaceous and sweat glands secretions.
  • Cutaneous respiration improves and secretory skin function is activated.
  • Dramatically changes the nutrition and hydration of the skin, making it smooth, elastic, more supple and more vibrant.
  • The capillary blood supply is activated, as the skin becomes pink.
  • It affects the blood vessels, refreshing and exercising them, and facilitates and speeds up the flow of blood and lymph, which leads to a decrease in edema.
  • It activates the elimination of substances resulting from the processes of biological metabolism in the cells.
  • It can have a calming or irritating effect on the nervous system, and this depends on the method of implementation, duration and intensity, for example: flat surface stroking has soothing results, while deep stroking has irritating results.
  • The use of stroking the reflexive areas ( cervical-occipital, upper thoracic ) may lead to therapeutic reflexive effects on pathological changes of the functions of certain internal organs and tissues.
  • It has anesthetic and pain-blocking effects.

Technique brushing basic methods 

Flat stroking

  • The palm should be relaxed (without tension) with fingers open and clenched on each other and located in one plane, with the implementation of movement in different directions transverse, longitudinal, circular, and spiral, either by one hand or hands together.
  • This method is used when performing back massages , abdominal massages , limbs, face and neck massages .

Deep flat stroking

  • It is performed by weighting the palm with the other palm (to increase pressure) with the application of different degrees of pressure, and movements directed at the nearest lymph nodes.
  • It is used when massaging  the pelvis, back, chest and extremities .

Stroking the hugger

  • The rest and the fingers should take the form of a gutter; So that the thumb is as far away as possible to be on the opposite side of the rest of the fingers that are clenched together, where the rest embraces the massaged surface, and moves either continuously without breaks, or with breaks, and this relates to the goal set by the therapist.
  • This type of massage is used on the extremities, side surfaces of the chest, trunk, buttocks, and neck .
  • The movement during stroking the incubator is directed towards the nearest lymph nodes, and this massage can be applied using gravity to obtain a deeper effect.

Back-up stroking methods of assistance

Stroking tongs 

  • Performs with fingers folded in the form of forceps.
  • It is used when massaging fingers, feet, tendons, small muscle groups, face, pinna, and nose .

Stroking in the form of a shovel

  • It is performed with fingers positioned in the form of a trowel (for one hand or for both hands) with the possibility of using the weight, so that the rest is placed on the massaged surface at an angle of 3-0 to 45 degrees .
  • Use on hairy areas of the head, between costal areas, and , if necessary, bypassing the affected areas of the skin.

Scanning (cauterization)

  • Performed by the back of the palm with the fingers folded at a right angle in the area of ​​the first phalanx joint (using one or both hands).
  • It is used when massaging the back, face, abdomen, and sandals (sometimes performed with the use of weight).

Stroking the shape of a paddle

  • Performed by the bony protrusions of the phalanx, with fingers half folded into a fist (with one hand or two hands).
  • It is used on large muscle groups in the back, pelvis, sandals, and palms .

General practical directions while stroking

  • The stroking is performed under complete muscle relaxation, with a comfortable position for the patient.
  • Stroking is carried out separately or in combination with other methods.
  • Usually the massage session begins with stroking, and it is also used during the massage process, and the massage also ends with stroking.
  • It uses first surface strokes, then more deep strokes.
  • A flat surface massage can be performed in the direction of the lymphatic path, and it can be performed against the direction of the lymphatic path. As for all other forms of stroking, it should be done only towards the lymphatic path and up to the lymph nodes.
  • The stroking is carried out slowly, rhythmically and smoothly with different degrees of pressure on the massaged surface.
  • When the blood supply is impaired (edema, swelling and swelling), stroking must be carried out using the absorbent method, that is, starting from the areas above the injury, for example: in the case of a pathological injury to the anterior leg joint, we must start stroking from the thigh and then the leg and then after that the anterior leg joint always heading Towards the lymph nodes.
  • When carrying out a massage session it is not always necessary to use all kinds of basic and auxiliary strokes, the methods that are most effective for the area should be chosen.
  • Deeper stroking methods should be performed on the bent (twisted) surfaces of the limbs .

The most common mistakes made during stroking

  • Extreme stress when performing the massage, which leads to pain or discomfort for the patient.
  • Separating the fingers from each other and not being fully and dense on the palpebral surface when applying flat stroking leads to an uneven and unbalanced effect, which in turn leads to a feeling of discomfort in the patient.
  • The great speed in the implementation of massaging methods, sudden and sharp movements, and the displacement of the skin from its place instead of slipping on it.


Rubbing is a massage movement that is never done by sliding the hand over the surface of the skin, but rather by shifting (moving) the skin and moving from its place and severely in different directions .

The physiological effect of scrubbing

  • Rubbing affects significantly and is more effective than stroking.
  • It helps to increase the mobility of the massaged tissue in relation to the proximal layers, when this increases the strength of the flow of the lymph and blood stream towards the masseuse tissue, which greatly improves its nutrition, metabolism and exchange processes in it, and redness appears on it.
  • Helps break down pathological formations in specific tissue layers.
  • It increases contractile muscle function.
  • It improves muscle flexibility, improves their ability to move, and for this reason, scrubbing is often applied to the joints.
  • Active rubbing (rapid and forceful) on the areas along the main nerve axes and on the places of the nerve endings on the surface of the body leads to a decrease in the nervous tension (stimulation).

Technic basic methods of scrubbing

Straight rubbing

  • Performed by the final cuttings (fingertips), either with one finger or with multiple fingers.
  • This method is used when massaging non-large muscle groups in the areas of the joints, phalanges, feet, axes (trunks) of the major nerves, the face .

Circular rubbing

  • It is performed by moving the skin circularly by the tips (heads) of the fingers while resting on the thumb or on the base of the rest.
  • This method can be performed with the back of the half folded fingers, and it can also be applied with a weight (with one hand or two hands alternating together).
  • It is used on the back, chest, abdomen, limbs and almost all areas of the body .

Screw scrub

  • It is performed by the base of the rest or by the ulnar edge of the phalanges folded into a fist, with one or two hands alternating together (this is related to the massaging area).
  • Use on the back, abdomen, chest, pelvis, limbs .

Rubbing auxiliary (backup) methods of rubbing

Linear (tactile) rubbing

  • It is carried out by means of the second and third or second and fifth fingertip pads, where the fingers are straight and extended to the maximum degree and are located at an angle of 30 ° with the massaged surface, and compress with short pressure movements, displacing the surrounding tissues, and moving backward, crosswise or longitudinally.
  • It is used on affected skin areas, when certain groups of muscles are affected, when diseases of the skin are affected .

Coastal scrub (abrasive)

  • It is executed either by one hand or both hands, where the phalanges are placed behind each other and with moving movements forward, the pads of the fingers are immersed in the tissue, displacing and separating them.
  • It is used on scars such as tattoos, large scars, when skin diseases such as eczema, which require isolation of the effect on the affected areas, and when muscles are injured by muscle tears, and when arthritis occurs .

Sawmill rubbing

  • It is carried out by the ulnar edge of the phalanges, when executed by the hands together they must be positioned so that their palmar surfaces face each other and at a separation distance of 1-3 cm with their movement with opposite serrated movements so that a cylinder-shaped mass is formed between the movable phalanges in the massaged tissue.
  • If this method is implemented by the radial edge of the phalanges , then this method takes another name, which is hacking .
  • These two methods are used on large joints, back, abdomen, thighs and neck areas .

Rubbing forceps

  • Performed by the ends of 1-2 or 1-3 fingers , so that their movements are either straight or circular.
  • It is used when massaging tendons, small muscle groups, pinna, nose, face (with local action), and when massaging teeth .

Practical directions for rubbing massage

  • Scrubbing is a preliminary stage for the transition to the scrub.
  • When using this method on the face it is necessary to use an overshoot (skip).
  • To increase the effect and effectiveness of this method, the angle between the fingers and the massaged surface must be increased or the method should be performed with gravity.
  • Performing the movement when rubbing on either side (without limiting its direction in the direction of the lymphatic pathway).
  • When not necessary, do not rub on the same area for more than 8-10 seconds.
  • The patient’s skin condition, age and reaction to the methods applied should be taken into account.
  • The rubbing should be performed periodically with stroking and other massaging methods at a frequency of 60-100 movements per minute.

The most common mistakes committed in rubbing massage

  • Execution of the method is painful and annoying.
  • Perform rubbing movements with sliding on the skin, not sliding with the skin.
  • Performing rubbing with fingers that are completely straight and not folded, this hurts the patient and exhausts the therapist.
  • Perform the rubbing types alternately and do not collect them together