Tapotement massage techniques are techniques that are used by therapists on the fleshy parts of the body. They involve percussion movements, such as a range of tapping, pounding, cupping and similar strikes.
The therapist will use fast movements from the wrists and hands striking the body and building up a quick rhythmical range of motions. The difference between the techniques used are the position of the therapists hands and fingers, and the methods used in striking the body.
Each technique offers a different feeling and serves a different purpose. Allowing the therapist to work on specific muscular and tissue problems, ensuring the client is comfortable and receiving a complete treatment.
There are a range of particular techniques that come under the range of tapotement massage movements, these are as follows:
Tapotement Massage Techniques
Cupping movements are performed by the therapist ‘cupping’ their hands and softly striking the client’s body. A cup shape is formed by joined the thumb and index finger and arching the palm.
The wrist needs to be kept lose to allow the client to form a rhythm and keep a continuos striking motion as they move around the body. A note with this technique being that the palm of the hand should never make contact with the client.
The cupping shape forms a hollow grove in the hands and this results in a distinctive sound when the hands hit the body. The speed of this technique depends on the client and can be adjusted to work deeper into the tissue and muscle as necessary.
Cupping is incredibly stimulating, however it’s one of the more difficult techniques to do well.
Hacking involves the therapist stretching out their fingers and thumbs from their arm with a loose contact. The movement comes from the wrists and both hands are used to strike areas of the body.
Each hand alternates the strikes in short distances apart and is done with a great deal os speed and skill so as not to cross or hit each other. Only the tips of three fingers are actually striking the skin, but in quick succession is feels like a much larger area.
The therapists fingers are loose and almost bounce off the clients skin. The typically speed is around 4-5 strikes per second, so that gives you an idea of how this technique works.
Quicker or harder strikes can be used as required to work on particular issues a client may have.
Plucking involves picking and squeezing at bits of tissue. The therapist uses their fingers to thumb to grab at small areas on the body and ‘pluck’. If you think of this as a birds beak pecking at something, this will help you imagine what it looks and feels like.
The therapist works on areas of the body with both hands in this way. Alternating in quick succession to lift the tissue and work across the body. It’s a light technique, and feels more relaxing than it does painful.
If performed correctly there should not be any marks left from this techniques. The motions should be quick and light, with the speed being determined by the requirements of the client.
As the name suggests, this technique uses a pounding motion with the therapists fists being loosely clenched. Some people assume this technique is going to be painful, but of course the amount of pressure can vary from very light to firm.
When done correctly it’s only the smallest finger of the therapist that makes contact with the client. The fists are very loose and the wrist is limp to allow the hands to move with and bounce with the motions.
Both hands are used, alternating from one to the other. A rhythm is developed and the therapist moves around the body pounding each hand close together.
Pounding is not as common as it used to be. It’s just not as effective as some other tapotement techniques like pummelling or hacking. It’s often found as a small part of a Swedish massage depending on the client’s needs.
Pummelling is simmilar to pounding, with the main difference being the therapist keeps their thumbs flat to their hands and works up a much faster pace. An experienced therapist will work at around 8-10 contacts per second with ease.
Because pummelling is an impact motion it’s not used on children or adults with any painful issues, It does help stimulate blood flow and tone muscles and is effective in some sports massage techniques.
Tapping is a light percussion movement that is typically not performed as quickly as cupping, plucking, pounding or hacking for example. The therapist keeps their hands and wrists relaxed and loose to allow their fingers to lighting tap the body.
Movements are always kept very light and the therapist can change which fingers are striking the body. Tapping is ideal for areas of the body that require very soft tapping due to being uncomfortable or delicate. Such as the face, head, or areas that are particularly sore.
It’s a techniques often found in Indian head massages. The light percussion movements are very soothing and relaxing.
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.