Effleurage is a French word derived from the word effleurage, which means to skim and is the most common Swedish massage stroke. Effleurage is a smooth, gliding stroke made with the flat of the hands and ideally with oil and a hand-over-hand gliding movement. This can be incredibly relaxing if your therapist has warmed the oil before applying it to your body. These strokes at the beginning of the massage have a twofold use. Firstly it allows the therapist to spread the massage oil over and body evenly, and secondly, it will enable them to have a good feel around and assess your body and muscle condition.
It is used at the beginning of a Swedish massage, and it aims to first introduce the client to the feeling of touch and second to put the client at ease. Then it will gently warm the superficial tissues, which will, in turn, relax the muscles.
The smooth gliding movements will increase lymph and blood flow which will aid in removing waste products from the body. Also, effleurage will relax the client at the end of the maassage. Also, it can be used in between more profound tissue techniques to keep your massage flowing and the therapist's hands in contact with your body throughout the session.
Effleurage can be done on the larger body surfaces, such as the back and chest, arms and legs, and smaller body surfaces, such as the face and hands. The palm should apply the most pressure, and the strokes should be very long and smooth with no sudden or jerky movements.
The forearm can also be used and is particularly effective due to the larger surface area it can cover. Or going the other way, just the fingertips can be used with a feather-light touch. This can be especially nice if you are massaging your partner. The pressure should be more significant as your therapist massages towards your heart and less on the return movement back. These movements will be repeated several times over the same area of the body, which should bring on the feeling of wonderful relaxation and reduce muscle tension and increase blood flow.
Superficial and deep and the two kinds of effleurage; the first uses a light touch, is very soothing and relaxing, and will occur at the beginning and end of the massage. Deep effleurage uses more pressure and can stretch the muscles and tissues. This is where the forearms can be very effective. Effleurage strokes are a great introduction to massage and should never be too firm, even the deeper strokes.
Just lay back and let your therapist take you on a wonderfully relaxing journey. You know you deserve it.