Rocking, Tapping, Nerve Strokes and Vibration

There are numerous techniques you may experience during a massage session. Rocking, tapping, nerve strokes and vibration are terms you may have already heard, or may hear. While you may think of a massage as only a series of long strokes or kneading motions, there’s a few techniques you may experience and wonder why on earth I am doing them them. So, here’s a few common techniques and why they’re done.

Rocking is a wonderfully simple technique that is just what it sounds like; rocking the body back and forth. Don’t worry, it’s not like you’ll be held like a baby and rocked in a chair. I will gently rock the body side to side ever so slightly, often on the hips, legs, and back. This gives me a sense of how tense you are and signal your body to let go of tension you may not even realize you’re holding.

Tapping, also referred to as percussion or tapotement, is when I repeatedly tap an area of the body, most often with the edges of the hands, a cupped hand,  or fingertips. It’s most often used to signal the nervous system to let go of tension, and ease sore and tired muscles. While typically performed very gently, so as to not be jarring to you as a client, some faster and more heavy tapping techniques may be performed to stimulate the muscles of an area that need to ‘wake up’, so to speak, to create some balance. Think, the karate chop movement. Regardless of the purpose, this technique, like any other massage technique, shouldn’t be painful.

Nerve strokes are extremely light, quick strokes, often performed with just the fingertips, either directly on the skin or over the linens. This technique is used to stimulate the nerves of an area, while maintaining the relaxed results already achieved. There is generally no specific pattern and the strokes are switched up frequently due to the benefits of connecting the mind with the nerves that are being stimulated. While it’s beneficial to most any client, this particular technique is especially beneficial to those who’ve experienced nerve damage or a stroke. You may recall from your last session this being done at the very end as a sort of relaxation ending.

Vibration massage has very similar benefits to nerve strokes in that it stimulates the nerves and is greatly beneficial to those who’ve suffered nerve damage or a stroke but is great for every body. I will use my whole hand or part of my hand, like fingertips down the spine, and keep continuous contact with your skin moving so quickly back and forth that it creates a vibrating sensation through the skin and into the underlying tissues.

Each of these techniques differ in the neurological effect they have on the body. Rocking and tapping both are used to relax the muscles and signal the body to let go of tension, while nerve strokes and vibration are both used to stimulate the nerves and heighten the awareness of the muscles and movements.

Whether you just want to relax, are looking for recovery from an injury, you need to prepare for something physically demanding, or relieve soreness these techniques will be worked into in your massage session.