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May 2017
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The face and head work as our own personal business card and they are often the parts of the body that show signs of stress and tiredness. The eyes and mouth tend to get smaller when we are anxious and this can cause premature aging of the face. A massage can restore feelings of lightness and serenity and provide the face with a healthy colour and brightness. Slow and deep movements on the scalp relax the head completely, and this can help relieve headaches and anxiety in many cases.

Position: it is recommended that the patient lies on his/her back or is seated.

Massage: the massage starts with gentle effleurage at the base of the neck moving towards the chin and then along the face. Light pressure can be applied to the forehead in particular, using the fingers and moving them from the centre to the temples. The scalp can be massaged by spreading the hands over the head and running the fingers through the hair and making circles on the head with the tips of the fingers. This can be finished by cupping the head in the palms of the hands because the palms can caress the head in a deeper way and cover larger areas.


Poor posture when driving or being sat at a desk in front of a computer or studying for long periods of time can cause rigidness and tension in the neck and shoulder muscles, and a sedentary lifestyle and no exercise can also add to this. The shoulders are some of the most neglected parts of the body and they affect psychological aspects too, such as anxiety and frustration, therefore a massage is essential for relieving these tensions and making the patient feel serene.

Position: both lying on the back with a cushion or small towel rolled up under the head or lying on the front on the hands and placing a cushion under the abdomen can work well. Sitting is not recommended. The position must be chosen according to the type of massage that will be performed.

Massage: in order to relax the contracted muscles, use both hands to perform petrissage on the muscles at the top of the shoulders, one side at a time, then squeeze and release the skin and change sides. This can then be followed by placing the hands on the shoulders, with the fingers on the back and thumbs on the other side of the shoulders, and massaging outwards as far as the shoulder and arm joints. Now the hands should be placed in the opposite way (thumbs on the back and fingers underneath the shoulders) and the massage should go up to the neck using effleurage movements.


These are some of the most active parts of the body, especially the hands, since they are used during almost every action, therefore it is natural that they become rigid and tired. The hands are affected the most by poor circulation and this causes them to be cold. The secret of a good hand massage is to do small movements and not forget the details. An arm massage relaxes the shoulders and arms and, quite often, it can help with headaches and back and neck pain. However, for pains related to sporting activities, it is best to seek help from a physiotherapist or osteopath.

Position: as far as massaging the hands is concerned, there is no reason to remove clothing since a hand massage can be carried out anywhere, and it requires little preparation. For the arms though, it is best to lie on the back and possibly have the head and knees raised by placing them on a cushion or rolled up towel.

Massage: an arm massage can begin by rubbing the external part of the arm up until the shoulder and then going back down, rubbing the internal part of the arm. This is followed by applying light pressure whilst rubbing the arm upwards and downwards. Since the forearm is often more tense, petrissage movements can be performed, working on the wrist and elbow. The elbows can benefit from arm massages by applying mild pressure and making circular motions, however it is best to use plenty of oil since this area tends to be very dry. The hands can also be massaged with effleurage movements, circular motions and alternated rubbing on either sides of the hand. A massage for each single finger should not be forgotten, starting gently from the tip and going down to the knuckle, making circular motions around each joint and rotating the finger in all directions.


The organs involved in digesting and respiring can benefit a lot from abdomen and thorax massages. Abdomen massages help increase blood flow and remove toxins, whilst thorax massages are useful for keeping the respiratory system healthy and increasing its resistance. As well as calming the nerves and stimulating the digestive system, an abdomen massage also helps to dissolve fatty deposits that have accumulated on the abdominal walls.

Position: lying on the back is recommended with a small cushion or rolled up towel under the head.

Massage: the first movements on the abdomen and chest should be quite gentle. The massage should be slow and the hands should be placed close together at the base of the abdomen with the fingers pointing towards the head. A massage is performed on the ribs, maintaining constant pressure, then the sides of the body, moving downwards. Petrissage is also very good for the abdomen, starting from one hip and moving towards the other one. The massage can be concluded with effleurage, which has a calming effect, by massaging the sides of the waist and the area around the navel.
Be careful with the movements because this part of the body is very sensitive and the muscles contract easily. It is not a good idea to perform an abdomen massage immediately after eating. Effleurage and petrissage are optimum for a thorax massage, however be extra careful if the patient is female. In this case, apply less pressure and massage from the centre of the chest to the shoulders, but avoid the shoulders.


It is quite normal to suffer from back pains, even though the cause is not always known. The back is the area of the body that tends to undergo fatigue and hurt, and it is the most muscular part of the body and its function is to hold the body’s weight. Back pain can occur between the shoulders or in the lower back and the twinges that we feel in the spine are usually caused by bad posture, excess weight and stress.
Many people notice that, after a hard day’s work, they will have a stiff neck or difficulty moving the spine, and the muscle that suffers immediately from this is the trapezium, which is located at the base of the neck. However, even though the back is the area that is affected the most by tiredness, the spine is the area that benefits the most from the relaxing effects of a massage.

Position: it is recommended that the patient lies on his/her front, with the head to one side and the arms either around the head or by his/her sides. It is best to place a rolled up towel or cushion under the abdomen and ankles.

Massage: the massage can begin with effleurage on the muscles either side of the spine. Once this has been completed, it should be repeated starting from the base of the spine and with the fingers pointing outwards. Effleurage stimulates circulation, heats the area that is being worked on and allows the masseuse to further spread the massage oil. The massage should then continue with circular friction movements (see image) on the sacrum and then petrissage, which sends out relaxing waves to the body. In order to perfrom petrissage, the masseuse should place him/herself by the side of the patient and start from the base of the spine, working up towards to the base of the neck. The movements involve alternatively squeezing a small part of flesh and then pushing it outwards with the other hand. The massage can be concluded with tapotement along the shoulders and in the lumbar region. The movements must be gentle and performed with the tips of the fingers.


Position: the recommended position is the same as that for a back massage, but it is also possible to lie down face up.

Massage: long strokes starting from the buttocks, applying mild pressure when going back up the leg, will help to spread the oil all over the leg. The massage can begin with delicate pressure applied with the hands, which should be supporting the calves and facing opposite directions. The hands should slide over the leg without putting pressure on the back of the knee. Petrissage is also very good for the calves. It is not a good idea to perform this massage on patients who suffer from cardiac problems or varicose veins.
In order to massage the back of the thighs, the masseuse should place the hands on the thighs and push them in opposite directions (the right hand inwards and the left hand outwards) and apply pressure energetically to stretch the muscles. The movements should be repeated up and down the thigh and the end point should be the same as the starting point. The front of the thigh can be massaged using effleurage and petrissage since the thighs perform decisive movements. The masseuse can use strong movements on the outside parts of the thighs, where the muscles are bigger, but more gentle movements on the inside of the thighs.


Our feet often hurt because of tiredness, fatigue or because of circulation problems and, in fact, it is not uncommon that the feet are cold. This is perhaps why nothing is more relaxing than a good foot massage which makes the whole body feel like it has been reborn! The sole of the foot contains thousands of nerve endings and, if stimulated properly, a massage can help to make the body feel reinvigorated.

Position: it is recommended that the patient lies on his/her back and the heel of the foot should be placed on a cushion at all times. It is best to use a small amount of oil so that the masseuse does not tickle the patient too much.

Massage: a gentle massage to warm up the foot is a good way to begin. Then pressure can be applied to the sole of the foot by using the thumb to apply pressure to the forefoot and the centre of the foot, and then use effleurage on the same areas. Another pleasant massage involves place the hands around the ankle and heel and squeezing the ankle with the fingers and the sole of the foot with the thumbs – in doing so the fingers should slide towards the toes, where the pressure will be interrupted, and then be placed back on the ankle.

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