Effleurage massage is your best stroke for putting the body into that more relaxed and sedated “parasympathetic” state. In our high stress world even a trip to the supermarket can rattle a persons nerves to the point where the sympathetic nervous system is on perpetual overdrive. This is not healthy. Massage, puts our body into a different state that helps us to maintain balance between the two neurological states (sympathetic and parasympathetic). The lasting effects of such can be quite remarkable in giving the body the needed rest to once again gather or reset itself.
From a mechanical perspective effleurage helps brush off dead skin cells, warms the tissues, assists in the exchange of fluids, assists with lymphatic and venous flow as we push our strokes in the direction of the heart which is a great aid for the immune system. Effleurage is your first form of touch introduced to the person you're massaging having a sedating type effect. It also allows you to assess muscles that are tight as well as temperature variations. It is a superb transition stroke. At first, if you get lost or confused, go back to effleurage.
There are some people that do entire massages using just effleurage. There's two forms of effleurage light and deep. With both you're using a gliding stroke that goes along the surface of the skin. Ideally, you don't want to engage the muscles too much. Engaging the muscles comes under the friction stroke that comes later. You want your strokes smooth and rhythmic . Lighter effleurage can also be a fine finishing stoke to end your massage. So you're massages are going to start out and end light with the amount of pressure you use. Using deeper effleurage stretches and broadens the fascia surrounding the muscle, how much depends on the amount of pressure you're using.
You have to ask yourself what is the intent when you use a particular stroke. For instance, effleurage can be an excellent draining stroke where you help push the fluids that you've worked from other strokes such as petrissage to it's natural lymphatic “port” (like the armpit or back of the knee) if you will, to be absorbed by the body more efficiently. The trick is to work with the body. Effleurage massage is your basic foundation stroke when learning how to massage.
Ticklish, deep effleurage on extreme hairy skin, pitting edema, swelling that is associated with heart or kidney conditions. Learn how to massage, but do so safely. For additional information see the Contraindications page
Basic step by step order for Swedish Massage
The order is Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction Massage, Tapotement, and Vibration. For more details see Swedish Massage
Individual Massage Strokes
Study findings for effleurage massage
Consider learning massage online before making a commitment to a formal massage school.