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Effleurage, a French word meaning 'to skim' or 'to touch lightly on', is a series of massage strokes used in Swedish massage to warm up the muscle before deep tissue work using petrissage.[1][2]

This is a soothing, stroking movement used at the beginning and the end of the facial and/or body massage. It is also used as a linking move between the different strokes and movements. Effleurage is basically a form of massage involving a circular stroking movement made with the palm of the hand.[citation needed]

Effleurage can be firm or light without dragging the skin, and is performed using either the padded parts of the finger tips or the palmar surface of the hands. Lotion may or may not be used.[2] The process works as a mechanical pump on the body to encourage venous and lymphatic return by starting at the bottom of the limb and pushing back towards the heart. This will have more success with this once all the muscles in the area are warmed up and loose. It consists of four sub-categories:[citation needed]

  1. Ethereal or aura strokes
  2. Feathering, or nerve-stroking
  3. Superficial effleurage
  4. Deeper effleurage


Effleurage is one of the five components of Swedish massage and is used at the beginning and end of a massage session, as well as between other massage techniques.[citation needed] Regardless of the reason for use, effleurage is always performed in a circular motion from light to medium pressure.[3] The effleurage may vary in speed, direction, and time of the procedure.[3] Effleurage is part of a type of massage called myofascial relaxation, which is used for carpal tunnel syndrome.[4] In some cases, effleurage can be used to reduce labor pain.[5] Clinical studies have shown that Swedish massage can reduce chronic pain, fatigue, joint stiffness.[citation needed] However, the effect of effleurage in relieving muscle fatigue or during recovery from sports injuries is insignificant.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scheumann, Donald W. (2007). "Swedish massage". The Balanced Body: A Guide to Deep Tissue and Neuromuscular Therapy. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-0-7817-6308-0.
  2. ^ a b Archer, Patricia A. (2007). "Effleurage". Therapeutic Massage in Athletics. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-0-7817-4269-6.
  3. ^ a b "Swedish Massage Therapy Techinques". amcollege.edu. Retrieved 2023-05-05.
  4. ^ Elliott, Rex; Burkett, Brendan (July 2013). "Massage therapy as an effective treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome". Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 17 (3): 332–338. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.12.003. PMID 23768278.
  5. ^ Maharani, Sri; Ginting, Raynald Ignasius; Tarigan, Layari; Ginting, Ginting Rosita; Yosepha, Desideria (2019). "The Effect of Effleurage Massage on the Intensity of Primigravida Stage I Labor Pain Latent Phase". Proceedings of the International Conference on Health Informatics and Medical Application Technology. pp. 135–141. doi:10.5220/0009467601350141. ISBN 978-989-758-460-2. S2CID 239321725.
  6. ^ Young, Ryan; Gutnik, Boris; Moran, Robert W.; Thomson, Rex W. (November 2005). "The Effect of Effleurage Massage in Recovery From Fatigue in the Adductor Muscles of the Thumb". Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 28 (9): 696–701. doi:10.1016/j.jmpt.2005.09.015. PMID 16326239.
  7. ^ Tiidus, P. M.; Shoemaker, J. K. (October 1995). "Effleurage massage, muscle blood flow and long-term post-exercise strength recovery". International Journal of Sports Medicine. 16 (7): 478–483. doi:10.1055/s-2007-973041. PMID 8550258. S2CID 25829700.