Body Sense

AUTUMN | 2017

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6 Body Sense Have you ever wondered why a session with certain massage therapists stands out as exceptional, but you can't quite put your finger on what they are doing that makes their work so great? Perhaps you've noticed that once your massage therapist begins the hands- on portion of the session, you melt into an altered state that remains consistently soothing until the very last stroke is completed. I've heard blissed-out clients describe this experience as "the massage therapist performing a fluid dance around the table" or "a master musician playing my body like an instrument." That secret skill your practitioner has is constant, fluid contact, also known as effleurage. And it is intentional. EFFLEURAGE DEFINED In massage school, the first massage stroke students learn is called effleurage. A French word in origin, effleurage is defined as a long, broad, fluid, gliding stroke that can be applied at different depths and paces, and 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 (see "Swedish Massage Strokes," page 8) typically progress in the following fashion: begin with effleurage; transition to more specific and focused strokes that address parts of muscles that are tense, painful, or immobile; then 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. Constant, Fluid Contact Your Massage Therapist's Secret Skill By Cindy Williams, LMT

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