Massage Techniques: Effleurage

What is it?

One of the main strokes used in massage is effleurage and is derived from the French word “effleurer” which means ‘skim the surface, stroke lightly’.

Effleurage is carried out in a smooth, rhythmical and relaxed manner, beginning with light touch. It involves stroking movements of the hands sliding over the skin and is the first and last technique (as well as being used between other techniques) applied in a session.

Pressure is sustained throughout the stroke and is always toward the heart. This technique will build deeper pressure with slower movements for increased circulation and stretching of the tissues at a later stage in the session.

How Does It Help?

Effleurage performed slowly can stimulate relaxation. Effleurage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system that releases positive hormones and increases temperature. The parasympathetic system is responsible for promoting relaxation and calmness after emotions such as stress. Effleurage relaxes the body and lowers the heart rate.

Effleurage helps reduce stress. Stress can be related to emotional or physical events in life such as work life, health or sporting performances. Massage can treat all types of stress. Effleurage promotes the body to relax so that stress is alleviated. Effleurage can increase mood by stimulating positive hormones and the parasympathetic nervous system.


  • Introduce you to touch;
  • Warm the superficial tissues;
  • Relax the muscles;
  • Allow the therapist to palpate (examine by touch) and sense the condition of the tissue;
  • Stimulate the peripheral nerves
  • Increase blood and lymph flow, thus aiding in the removal of waste products;
  • Stretch tissues.

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