Every massage therapist seems to have a different approach, and there are numerous techniques you may experience during a massage session. Rocking, tapping, nerve strokes and vibration are terms you may have already heard, or may hear. While you may think of a massage as a series of long strokes or kneading motions, there’s a few techniques you may experience and wonder why on earth your therapist is doing them. So, here’s a few common techniques and why they’re done.
Rocking is a wonderfully simple technique that is just what it sounds like; rocking the body back and forth. Don’t worry, it’s not like you’ll be held like a baby and rocked in a chair. Your therapist will gently rock the body side to side ever so slightly. This gives your therapist a sense of how tense you are and signal your body to let go of tension you may not even realize you’re holding.
Tapping, also referred to as percussion, is when your therapist repeatedly taps an area of the body, most often with the edges of the hands, a cupped hand, fingertips, or a variety of tools. It’s most often used to signal the nervous system to let go of tension, and ease sore and tired muscles. While typically performed very gently, so as to not be jarring to you as a client, some faster and more heavy tapping techniques may be performed to stimulate the muscles of an area that need to ‘wake up’, so to speak, to create some balance. Regardless of the purpose, this technique, like any other massage technique, shouldn’t be painful.
Nerve strokes are extremely light, quick strokes, often performed with just the fingertips, either directly on the skin or over the linens. This technique is used to stimulate the nerves of an area, while maintaining the relaxed results already achieved. There is generally no specific pattern and the strokes are switched up frequently due to the benefits of connecting the mind with the nerves that are being stimulated. While it’s beneficial to most any client, this particular technique is especially beneficial to those who’ve experienced nerve damage or a stroke.
Vibration massage has very similar benefits to nerve strokes in that it stimulates the nerves and is greatly beneficial to those who’ve suffered nerve damage or a stroke. It includes static vibrations in which the therapist will use their whole hand or part of their hand and keep continuous contact with the client with no sliding over the client’s skin, but instead moving so quickly back and forth that it creates a vibrating sensation through the skin and into the underlying tissues. Running vibrations are when the therapist uses the whole or part of the hand to have continuous contact with the client’s body, creating that same vibrational sensation while slightly gliding over the skin. To increase the vibration effect, tools may also be used.
Each of these techniques differ in the neurological effect they have on the body. Rocking and tapping both are used to relax the muscles and signal the body to let go of tension, while nerve strokes and vibration are both used to stimulate the nerves and heighten the awareness of the muscles and movements.
Whether you just want to relax, are looking for recovery from an injury, or need to prepare for something physically demanding, these techniques may be an amazing addition to in your regular massage session.