Swedish Massage – Friction- Continued

Most massage practiced today is based on Swedish techniques. The six fundamental movements used in Swedish massage are touch, effleurage, petrissage, friction, percussion, and joint movements. An expert massage therapist understands the indications for and effects of using each of the six different types of movement. In this article, we will continue to explore the methods and reasons for using the fifth form of massage movement- Friction.

Friction Movements: Circular, Cross-fiber, or Longitudinal

Circular friction is the movement of the superficial tissues in a circular pattern over the deeper tissues by the use of the fingers or palm of the hand. Circular friction produces heat and stretches fascia. Circular friction is used to palpate and asses deeper tissues. It is also used for a calming effect before, during, and after deeper techniques.

Cross-fiber friction is used to broaden, separate, and break up adhesions. Cross-fiber friction is excellent in relieving muscular restrictions that result from scar tissue. Cross-fiber friction is applied transversely across the muscle, tendon, or ligament fibers. It is broad enough to cover the fiber without plucking the fiber. It is deep enough to reach the targeted area. In some cases, cross-fiber friction is performed by applying steady pressure on an area and tissue while moving the underlying bone. In this technique it is the boney structure that achieves the cross-fiber movement. Cross-fiber friction is very useful in the rehabilitation of a fibrous tissue injury. Cross-fiber friction promotes the formation of elastic fibrous tissue while reducing the formation of scar tissue. The healed injury has a decreased chance of reinjury. The area regains strength, pliability, and movement. Cross-fiber friction restores pliability and mobility to old injuries.

Friction that is applied in the same direction as the tissue fibers is called Longitudinal friction. Longitudinal friction aligns the collagen fibrils in the fascia as well as stretches the layers of fascia.

As you can see, friction is applied in different methods to achieve different results. So far we have covered different applications of friction: 1- superficial or deep, 2- circular, cross fiber or longitudinal. The next post will detail the different friction movements themselves.