Massage techniques, application and effects

Massage techniques, application and effects

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If our partner suffers from a tight back, asks us to massage him and we grossly miss it, hurt him or even aggravate the pain, this quickly leads to a marital dispute. In general, every woman and every man can massage, but you also need to know how to do this. The cultures of the world developed various massage techniques that all have their advantages. Some are easy to learn, others need complex training.

The Swedish massage

The Swedish massage is the most common in Germany and is the standard in physiotherapy. It is primarily used to relieve hardening and tension in the muscles and complaints of the musculoskeletal system. It consists of five handles. First the masseur strokes towards the heart with both hands, then he kneads the skin with S-shaped movements, then he rubs it with the heel of his hand, pats it with a loose hand and finally shakes it with his fingertips.

Swedish massage works against:

  • Psychophysical tensions,
  • Spring fatigue,
  • Stress,
  • Migraine,
  • Back pain, neck pain and muscle pain,
  • Cramps,
  • High blood pressure,
  • slow cell metabolism,
  • Connective tissue weakness,
  • Water accumulation in the tissue,
  • Lymphatic congestion.

Swedish massage - application

You can use the Swedish massage yourself:

  1. They slide along the back to the left and right of the spine, from top to bottom. Then when you slide back from the bottom up, open your hands.
  2. Apply light pressure with the palms of your hands and move your spine outwards with both hands to relax the side muscles. Then return to the spine with both hands and remove the pressure.

  3. Now massage the neck. You should be careful here and apply little pressure.
  4. They knead together with their hands apart.

Do not proceed according to scheme F, but pay attention to what your partner says: Such a massage may and must exert pressure, but if it hurts seriously and your partner says "it hurts me", then take the pressure back.

Ayurveda massages

Ayurveda medicine in India encompasses a huge spectrum of practices and so there is no Ayurveda massage, but various massage techniques that belong to this folk medicine and are tailored to the special needs of the patient.

At Padabhyanga the feet are massaged, at Shirodhara the forehead is poured with warm oil or in another variant a gem is placed on the forehead. Upanahasveda is a back massage with a special oil, a special herbal paste stimulates the flow of sweat. This is supposed to serve detoxification. The Marma massage exerts pressure on sensitive areas of the body.

At Udvartana, the body is rubbed with oil and then covered with a herbal powder. Garshan means a massage of the whole body with silk gloves. Ushnasnahna means a massage with soap foam, Pinda Sweda one with hot rice stamps.

In the synchronous massage, two masseurs work at the same time and perform the same exercises, in contrast to the Swara Abhyanga, in which those affected rub themselves with oil.

How do Ayurveda massages work?

In the Indian imagination, these massages are supposed to counteract physical decline in old age, reduce stress, improve eyesight, care for the skin, promote the development of body cells and help against insomnia.

Thai massage

Nuat Phaen Boran, “massage according to the old law”, is new in the west, has been known in Thailand for centuries. The masseur uses his hands, fingers, knees, elbows and feet along the lines that Thai medicine imagines as "energy lines". This is accompanied by fragrant massage oils that reduce stress. Afterwards, the body is often massaged with hot herbs. Here the body relaxes additionally through the warmth and the vapors clean the skin.

Thai massages stimulate blood circulation, relieve migraines, back pain and fatigue, stimulate the cardiovascular system and reduce stress.

Hot stone massage

This massage technique borrows from American Native practices. Here, skin and muscles are massaged with hot lava stones, as are feet, hands and the face. This massage stimulates the circulation of the blood and helps against tension.

Shiatsu massage

Shiatsu comes from Japan, and the massage is done here with gentle pressure with the fingers. With the Namikoshi variant, the nerves are particularly massaged, the Masunga technique is intended to stimulate “energy conduction” in the body.

As with all massages, it is about relieving hardening, relaxing tension, promoting blood circulation and improving the motor system. Shiatsu massage is also said to promote digestion and the immune system.

The Dorn-Breuss massage

This is an invention of the naturopaths Rudolf Breuss and Dieter Dorn. They first stretched the spine through massage and then massaged St. John's wort oil. By this, they meant being able to avoid back and spine surgery.Unlike other massages, this is not about muscle tension in general, but about complaints in the spine and back and damage to the intervertebral discs. Gentle pressure and slight movement are used to straighten out minimally displaced vertebral bodies.

Pantai Luar

Pantai Luar is a massage for the whole body from the Far East of Asia, combining massage with oils and herbal stamps. The masseur oils the body and then massages it with quick movements of the hands with the herbal stamp. In addition to the usual areas such as promoting blood circulation and relieving muscle tension, this massage is said to inhibit inflammation and tighten the skin.

Chocolate massage

Here the body is rubbed with chocolate, shea butter and almond oil. The masseur warms the chocolate in a water bath. When the customers are covered with the mass, the masseur wraps it in a film so that the substances can better penetrate into the body. After a while, the masseur washes the chocolate off his body and applies a cream that contains, for example, almond oil, peanut oil or cocoa butter. This massage is said to relieve inflammation, especially on the joints and skin, to counteract skin aging, to care for the skin and to make it shine.


Tuina is the Chinese counterpart to shiatsu massage. In Germany it is more known as acupressure. As with acupuncture, the basic idea is that there are certain “lines of force” in the body that can be activated or blocked.

Historically, Chinese doctors came up with this idea because they were forbidden to open the body and were only able to make diagnoses through external observation. So they saw when and how the body reacted to stings (acupuncture) or pressure (acupressure) and designed a model of what “energy lines” could be inside this body. There are no such “energy channels”, but acupressure works for the same reason as other massages: it relaxes muscles and promotes blood circulation. This in turn relieves pain and promotes physical activity and cares for the skin.

Lomi Lomi Nui

This massage technique comes from Hawaii and means "great touch". Here a certain oil is applied to the body and kneaded into the skin. No part of the body is ignored as a full-body massage: wrists, hollow of the knees and the inside of the feet are also massaged with the oil by the Hawaiians. There are special handles for the spine, head and joints.

In Hawaii, such massages are considered a sacred act and are accompanied by shamanic chants. An additional healing effect through self-suggestion is therefore not excluded. This massage is said to relieve tension, strengthen the immune system and also activate the body's self-healing.

Lingam massage

Some massages focus on one part of the body. The Lingam massage comes from Taoism. Here the male genitals are massaged. In contrast to "normal" masturbation, however, a special breathing technique is part of the program, through which people should particularly relax. The aim of this massage is to increase sexual sensitivity and a positive relationship with libido.


Here reflex zones of the sole of the foot are massaged. This massage originally comes from the premodern idea that the individual parts of the foot are related to certain organs. Massage was so sensible as unscientific this basic idea was. It promotes blood circulation, sensitizes the soles of the feet for stimuli when they occur and is therefore particularly useful for hikers and runners. It also slightly prevents joint inflammation in the foot and ankle.

Facial massages

Facial massages on the temples are often the first remedy for headaches. These are often caused by a lack of blood circulation, for example when we sit on the laptop all day with a stiff neck. A temple massage ensures that more blood flows into the scalp and often ends the headache in minutes.
Other massages involve the entire head and face - from the shoulders to the scalp. Light pressure, brushing, kneading, stretching and pulling are common. For example, we take an earlobe between two fingers, press and rub it. Many people even do this without prior training if they have problems concentrating or are stressed.

A facial massage is not a secret science, and massaging our temples occasionally or pressing the upper jawbones with the fingers of both hands at the same time, tapping the forehead with the fist of the right hand, can be easily accommodated in everyday life. Such methods are not only simple, but also useful to do something about tiredness, headaches or nervousness - they also help against insomnia. Regular facial skin massages also prevent wrinkles.


There are many other massages that require training as a physiotherapist and / or massage therapist. Massage therapists determine how long a treatment lasts and how intensive it is; they learn the reflex zones in the skin, connective tissue and muscles. They also deal with special massage therapies, including electrotherapy, light therapy and radiation therapy, as well as treatments with heat and cold. The training includes modules on the cardiovascular system and the nervous system, on the development and course of diseases and diagnoses, as well as psychological and educational aspects of the work.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Bernhard Reichert: Massage Therapy, Thieme Verlag, 1st edition, 2015
  • Alexander Meng: Textbook of Tuina Therapy, Haug Verlag, 6th edition, 2013
  • Bernard C. Kolster: Massage, Springer Verlag, 2nd edition, 2006

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