Some good Swedish massage techniques include sweeping hand-over-hand strokes to cover large areas, rhythmically squeezing large, curved muscles, and applying circular pressure to a muscle knot with the thumb. Another technique is tapping on tight muscles with closed fists or cupped hands.
Effleurage is the Swedish massage technique of sweeping the hands over the skin. Massage oil helps the hands glide smoothly over the skin while the palms create gentle pressure on the muscles. This technique is good at the beginning of a massage and starts with light pressure working up to heavier pressure to help with relaxation.
Petrissage is a kneading movement. The masseur presses rhythmically with the thumbs or knuckles to relax muscle tissue. For large muscles such as the thigh or shoulder, the masseur squeezes the muscle rhythmically between the thumb and fingertips. Alternating between hands helps keep the pressure even and the masseur from tiring out.
Friction targets a very small area of the body where there is tension in a muscle. In one type of friction, the fingertips of the first two fingers or the thumb work the muscle in a circular motion. The fingers do not glide over the skin, but instead stay in one place, providing deep pressure to the problem area. An alternative movement is to use the tips of the fingers to move back and forth over the muscle with the other hand providing extra pressure as needed.