Effleurage: The Foundation of Relaxation
Swedish massage relies largely on a technique known as effleurage. Learn how it zaps stress with Groupon's peek at this basic stroke.
Effleurage is the glue that holds a Swedish massage together. Its smooth, gliding strokes may not deliver much pressure?the word itself is taken from a French verb that means "to touch lightly"?but the technique simultaneously soothes the nerves, boosts circulation, and allows the massage therapist to identify problem zones that need extra attention. Because effleurage doubles as an assessment tool, many therapists begin each massage with it, usually by gliding their open palms lightly across the body to feel for tense spots and potholes while acclimating the client to their touch. This form of effleurage is known as "superficial," and it serves a soothing prelude, epilogue, and transitional movement between deeper, more focused kneading.
A slightly more forceful style of effleurage is known as "deep effleurage." This form still uses gliding strokes, only with more pressure, as the therapist aims to stretch out the muscle tissue and the web of connective tissue that covers it. Therapists will generally direct the first part of their deep-effleurage stroke towards the heart, finishing with a lighter return stroke away from it. Not only does this warm up tissues for deeper muscle work, but it can also speed up the movement of blood and lymph fluid. This boost in circulation can help drain fluid from injured areas, reducing painful pressure while also releasing endorphins that further relax the entire body.
In Tibet, the word "bardos" means "an interval between two things," an escape from external pressures. Certified massage therapist Jamie LaNeave helps clients suspend day-to-day cares through relaxing, holistic hands-on therapies. Before she became a massage therapist, LaNeave learned the strengths and limitations of the body's muscles and tendons during 25 years as a professional dancer. Armed with this understanding, she sees massage therapy as a way to help the body overcome chronic pain through physical manipulation of soft tissue. All of the practitioners are also trained in neuromuscular therapy and and MediCupping, which can help ease chronic back pain. Most importantly, LaNeave identifies each patient's issues early on and helps build a plan to help them with whatever treatments are necessary. Bardos Massage and Wellness also offers a variety of detox treatments, like far-infrared sauna therapy, as well as raw food nutrition counseling, targeting symptoms depression and chronic pain disorders.
Affordable Spa Services is home to a staff of 9 nationally and state certified massage therapists, who mollify sinews with an array of tenderizing modalities. During hot-stone massage, gentle hands soothe tense tissues with Swedish techniques while warm lava rocks loosen muscle fibers. Reflexology relieves tension and stimulates energy throughout the body by focusing on the head, ears, hands, and feet, and trigger-point therapy removes the toxins that can cause poor circulation and migraines. When melting muscles during the soul-soothing massages, the staff melts inches off the body with skinny wraps, a 45-minute service that tightens, tones, and firms the skin to minimize the appearance of cellulite. Customers may either have this service performed in the spa or they can purchase a wrap to perform the service at home. Additionally, therapists slather backs with detoxifying mud, target dry skin and arthritis with vitamin-rich paraffin wax, and erase scowl lines with comedic pieing.
Although she has more than a decade of professional experience, Jocelyn Capito embraces every opportunity to learn more about massage therapy. These continuing studies have taken her from Richmond to California and even to Bangkok, where she learned Thai reflexology. At Gift of Healing Massage, Jocelyn shares her wide repertoire with clients by offering fully custom treatments that can incorporate a variety of modalities—including gentle Swedish strokes, trigger-point therapy, and myofascial release—depending on individual needs.
Jocelyn's holistic approach not only provides an escape from the stresses of daily life but also targets the tense muscles and painful knots that those stresses can cause. For an alternative approach, Jocelyn can use reflexology techniques or reiki therapy to restore balance to the body's mental and emotional energies. The addition of soothing aromatherapy oils can leave clients feeling as calm as the water in a broken wave pool.
The skincare professionals at Belissa Salon and Spa specialize in smoothing out the body’s rougher edges. Though they draw upon years of experience in aesthetics, they don’t rely solely on their own wits—professional Dermalogica products crafted from natural ingredients aid them as they resurface skin.
For a service that exemplifies all the others, look no further than the Dermalogica thermal body treatment, which exfoliates with a natural blend of sea salt, dried seaweed, and fruit enzymes. Other, equally effective remedies may detoxify skin with mineral mud or wraps soaked in soothing plant extracts. Belissa Salon and Spa also offers tanning services: stylists use a bronzing mist to create natural-looking tans for their clients. Skin isn’t all the staff pays attention to. They also cut and color hair, groom nails, and relax muscles with six different massages, including hot-stone therapy and a prenatal style that incorporates heated alphabet blocks.
Though licensed massage therapist Sarah Hodges lets her practiced hands do the talking for the most part, she maintains that open communication is an essential aspect of a rewarding massage experience. Before quieting chronic pain and loosening tense muscles with modalities that include Swedish, deep tissue, prenatal, and trigger-point therapy, Sarah gets to know her clients during informal consultations. After identifying the techniques that will best heal their sore muscles or self-inflicted nunchuck injuries, she turns on soft music, dims the lights, and sets to work.
Sarah picks up the conversation again after the massage, when she describes the treatment she used, discusses her findings, and shares some at-home techniques for further stress relief. She makes sure that her clients leave not only with a loose body but with bolstered spirits and an informed picture of their healing process.