Basic Sports Massage Techniques: From Effleurage, to Frictions, and Petrissage

Sports MassageA sports massage, when performed skillfully and with the right techniques, could be extremely beneficial for muscle tension release and musculoskeletal system rebalancing. The following are most common techniques used during a sports massage.

The Effleurage

This massage technique involves stroking and sliding hand movements on the skin. It is usually performed at the start, in between other massage techniques, and at the end of a sports massage. The stroking motions could be utilised in different speeds and pressures — from light, to deep, and firm strokes — based on the particular stage and purpose of the sports massage, adds a physiotherapist in Perth.

This technique, says Life Ready Physio, aids in getting you used to your therapist’s touch, relaxing your muscles, warming up your superficial tissues, stimulating your peripheral nerves, enabling your therapist to sense and palpate your tissues’ condition, stretching your tissues, raising your blood and lymph flow to help in purging waste accumulation, and relaxing your body prior to ending the session.

The Frictions

Frictions are forceful, but small motions performed back and forth on isolated areas with the use of finger pads. These are performed adjacent to the muscle fibre directions so they’re usually known as cross fibre frictions. This sports massage technique is beneficial for separating adhesions between muscle fibres, breaking down scar tissue, stimulating blood flow and vasodilation, restoring elasticity, realigning fresh scar tissues, and jumpstarting healing.

The Petrissage

The most basic petrissage motion is thru compressing and then releasing soft tissue by bunching and then squeezing the skin and muscles or via direct pressure. It’s essentially used for applying deeper pressure than effleurage and involves other movements such as kneading, shaking, rolling and wringing. Petrissage movements are helpful for increasing tissue interface mobility, stretching out muscle fibres, relaxing muscles, helping tissue fluid interchange, increasing lymphatic and venous return, as well as removing waste products.

Note that depending on your comfort and pain tolerance, you may feel a bit of discomfort or pain during the sports massage session. You can inform your therapist when you feel any ache or pain that’s outside your comfort zone. Likewise, keep in mind that you will feel some pain or soreness for a day or two. Just follow all aftercare instructions and inform your therapist as soon as possible if pain or soreness subsists for three days or more following your massage.