5 of the Best Massage Techniques to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

If you want to make a difference in people’s lives, consider becoming a massage therapist. Massage Therapy is a vast discipline, with modalities including traditional Swedish massage, sports massage, prenatal massage, and trigger point massage. Across all of the various types of massage, there are some basic massage techniques every therapist needs to master.

What are the most popular massage techniques? What techniques work best for relieving muscle tension or promoting blood flow?

Answer these questions and you can maximize massage health benefits in no time. Here is your quick guide.

1. Kneading

Kneading is what comes to mind the most when thinking about top massage techniques. This consists of pulling the muscle away from the bone using your fingertips or palms, with the intention of reducing muscle spasms.

Kneading does not mean pinching the skin. It is okay to bring your fingers together and apply deep pressure, but avoid stabbing someone’s body with your fingertips. If you think you are applying too much pressure, release your hands and rub the skin with your palms.

Moving your hands quickly can help you release tension directly under someone’s skin. But if you want to provide deep relief, such as in deep tissue massage, you should go slowly while kneading.

Start with the major muscle groups on the body and then move toward the smaller groups. The hands and feet are sources of tension, so kneading the hand and foot muscles can relieve pain and improve flexibility.

2. Stroking

Stroking is another common and well-known massage technique. You apply small amounts of pressure to encourage blood circulation.

This can help repair damaged skin and tissues and ease muscle knots. You can also use stroking to create a continuity of touch. The receiver feels your hands on them at all times, which lets them relax and avoid being surprised by your touches.

Keep your hands flat so you can stroke easier. Jabbing your fingers into the receiver’s skin can cause them to feel uncomfortable.

Move your hands in a circular motion so you can apply pressure to different parts of a person’s muscles. You can move your hands up and down if you find this difficult.

You can incorporate stroking into different types of massages. The Swedish massage involves long strokes mixed with kneading. You can use strokes to gauge how mobile someone’s tissues are, letting you adjust your subsequent massage therapy techniques.

3. Face and Neck Rubbing

Face massaging can relieve tension and improve the flexibility in the face. Have the receiver face you and use the heels of your palms to rub their cheeks and forehead. Pull down on their facial skin lightly using your palms, then release and repeat the process again.

Use your fingertips if you are rubbing along their nose and close to their eyes. This lets you rub the small muscles in the face and avoid making contact with the eyes.

Massaging the temples can provide relief for migraines and stress. Massaging the back of the neck can help with tension headaches and sleep deprivation. Make sure to massage the muscles, not the spinal bones, as pressure on the spinal cord can induce pain.

4. Tapping

Tapping involves using swift motions with your hands in order to improve a person’s blood circulation. You can use the sides of your hands, your fingertips, or your knuckles to tap.

Tapping works best when someone has a very stiff region of their body. Kneading or stroking can hurt them, but tapping can promote blood flow to loosen muscle tissue. Try tapping the stiff area a few times and asking the client how they are feeling.

Rhythmic tapping works better than random tapping, as it mimics a person’s heartbeat and draws in blood. Tap once a second for a few seconds.

Do not apply too much force with your hands. To prevent hurting someone, you can cup your hands so that you apply pressure across an area of muscle.

If you need to apply more force, you can go at a faster pace, but never strike someone with the side of your hand.

5. Vibrating

Vibrating is similar to tapping in that you want to create a good rhythm. But use your hands or your fingers to shake the receiver’s muscles.

You want to press down on their tissues and then release your fingers before pressing down again. Unlike tapping, you do not remove your fingers from their skin. Keep your fingers in contact and apply and release pressure at regular intervals.

If someone is feeling cold, you can use vibrations to warm them up. Use a faster pace so warm blood can travel to cold areas more quickly.

Vibrations can help with scar tissue, as blood brings nutrients to damaged skin cells and helps them to repair themselves. Vibrate the tissues around old scars and bruises to facilitate the healing process.

Vibrations work best on the shoulders, back, and legs. Vibrations can be difficult on the hands and feet, so you should use tapping instead.

The Best Massage Techniques

Massage techniques are simple yet their results can be profound. Kneading and stroking are the most common and can help with sore and stiff muscles.

Face and neck rubbing can help with headaches and stress. If someone is struggling with pain in a particular part of their body, you can do rhythmic tapping on that area. Vibrating encourages blood flow to warm a person up and heal them after an injury.

You can receive training for all of these techniques and a wide variety of massage modalities in our 9-month Massage Therapist program. Click below to learn more about the program.