Body Sense

SUMMER | 2018

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Page 10 of 17—your resource for all things bodywork 11 Tapotement Massage Involves More Than Just Rubbing Muscles By Cindy Williams, LMT Every stroke or technique that a massage therapist applies within a session has a purpose and is used because of something the therapist saw in your posture, heard through your words, or felt as they touched your muscles. You are probably familiar with most strokes your therapist applies because they are commonly used to warm the tissue, knead the muscles into a softened state, or break up scar tissue caused from previous injury or overuse. But what about that age-old, but less-commonly- used technique where your massage therapist "beats" on your body with their hands? Have you ever wondered what that is and why your massage therapist is doing it? WHAT IS IT? The massage stroke I'm referring to is called tapotement. Tapotement comes from the French word tapoter, which means "to tap," and is a technique used in Swedish massage since the late 19th century. The technique is very literal to the word origin in that it simply involves tapping the body with hands, soft fists, or fingertips. It is a fast, rhythmic, percussive technique, typically alternating between hands, with the intention of bringing blood to the surface of the skin, stimulating the nervous system, and softening hardened muscles (think of tenderizing meat not with a meat-tenderizing hammer, but with soft, relaxed hands that feel good!). HOW IS IT APPLIED? Tapotement can be applied in five ways: cupping, hacking, beating, tapping, and plucking. The difference in these strokes lies in how the hands are positioned.

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