The Beauty of a Well Executed Effleurage Stroke

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Eighteen years ago I graduated from massage school and I want to share a recent epiphany that has stirred an awakening in me. The excitement here is that we can all be awakened!

How? By revisiting our awareness of a simple stroke that we all perform, an effleurage stroke. This applies to all of us who massage, whether we’re teachers, students, or seasoned practitioners.

During a recent class in oncology massage, I was reminded of the simple QUALITY of a massage stroke. We’re talking about a basic effleurage stroke, here. Nothing special, we do it everyday, with every body.
It’s not very exciting, but it CAN be!

Picture placing your hand on a calf muscle. Your client’s lower leg is waiting for contact from you. This person is prone, breathing and waiting. You may have already worked on her feet, but are now moving on. You reach up to apply oil and your hand makes contact. Stop here!
Check: How much of your hand is making contact?
Check: What is your intended pace and pressure?

You may just do what you always do and reach for this area with the usual intention, pace, and pressure that has become an unchecked habit. You may even look at the clock to check your time. You may even have to retrain your hands.

I have been reminded to make sure that my whole hand is in contact, my pressure is deliberate and remains consistent, and most excitedly my pace is slow and even. It’s basic, and it’s simple, and we’ve all learned this, but when was the last time we checked to see if we were conscious of our simple stroke?

Concerned about more important things, like contraindications, we’ve come to think that this simple stroke is somewhat irrelevant to our overall plan, and this is why it can go unchecked for so long. It’s a piece of the whole that can make or break your massage plan.

Grab a co-worker. Work this simple stroke, slow and even with your whole hand, and best of all receive it yourself! It’s an eye opening experience that can revive a person, a client, a practice and a practitioner. It may even start a career.

Keeping my newly perfected little stroke in mind, I was recently told that I performed my best massage ever!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/
  • Lu Mueller-Kaul

    Great point. We all should encourage clients and especially our friends to give us honest feedback. Every little stroke should feel beneficial.