Massage & Bodywork


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Transitions are a significant component of a skillfully executed bodywork session. When switching between types of strokes, or completing one body part and moving to the next, what's important is not only that you get from point A to point B, but also how you get from point A to point B. Fluidity is essential to inviting and maintaining a client's sense of peace, relaxation, and trust. Abrupt beginnings and endings, and not effectively communicating through your touch where you are leaving and going, can cause clients to stay in sympathetic nervous system response rather than settling into the parasympathetic. Effleurage is the key, and the quality and application of your effleurage strokes can greatly affect your client's experience. Following are vital components to making fluid transitions at every stage of a massage, resulting in an effective, safe, and flowing session. 36 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 7 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education Essential Effleurage The Key to Smooth Transitions By Cindy Williams EFFLEURAGE DEFINED While the term effleurage might seem elementary in terms of massage knowledge and skill, it is not to be taken lightly. As is the case with many basic skills, without mastery of it, everything that is built on it runs the risk of being faulty. Effleurage, a French word in origin, is defined as a long, broad, fluid, gliding stroke, which can be applied at different depths and paces, and is used to begin, end, or transition between strokes and body parts. It covers the entire length and width of the body part to which it is being applied and assists in maintaining continuous contact with the client throughout a massage progression. Full-body, Swedish massage sessions typically progress in the following fashion: begin with effleurage, move to petrissage, friction, vibration, tapotement, and joint movement (as appropriate), and finish with effleurage. While the strokes between effleurage can be applied in a variety of ways, progressing from general to specific and back to general without the hands leaving the body is an important factor in creating peaceful fluidity.

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