Should You Try an Effleurage Massage? Benefits and Alternatives

As more people turn to massage therapy to alleviate stress and improve overall well-being, it’s important to understand the techniques involved in this powerful healing practice. 

One popular technique that has recently gained attention is effleurage, a gentle form of massage that encourages relaxation, blood circulation, and lymph flow. 

Massage therapists often use this technique to start a massage session, helping the client relax and prepare for deeper work on the muscles. 

But what exactly are the benefits of this technique, and is it the right type of massage for you? This article answers these questions and more! We’ll explore the following topics to help you better understand effleurage massage. 

Are you ready to reap the full benefits of effleurage massage? Look no further than PRESS! Our highly skilled and experienced massage therapists incorporate effleurage into our Signature Massage (a therapeutic blend of soothing, relaxing Swedish and Orthopedic Deep Tissue massage therapy) to help you achieve the ultimate relaxation and healing experience. 

Plus, all our services, including Full Body, Back, Neck & Shoulders, Pregnancy, and Corporate Chair Massage, are 100% customizable to meet your unique needs and preferences.

So, why keep waiting? Book a session with us today and discover the incredible healing power of this gentle massage technique! 

What Is Effleurage Massage?

Effleurage massage, which derives its name from the French word "effleurer," meaning "to skim" or "to touch lightly," is a gentle form of massage that involves long, gliding strokes performed with light to moderate pressure (1). 

The massage therapist often uses open palms, thumbs, or fingers to perform these strokes, which are typically applied in the direction of the heart to encourage venous return (the flow of blood from the periphery back to the heart). In turn, this leads to a number of health benefits.

What is Effleurage Massage?

When Is Effleurage Used? 

Typically, effleurage is applied at the beginning of a massage session to help the client relax and warm up the muscles before deeper work is done. It can also be used throughout the massage to transition between different techniques or to help the client return to a state of relaxation. 

This powerful technique is commonly used in Swedish massage but can also be incorporated into other types of massage. At PRESS, we integrate effleurage into our Signature Massage to provide a soothing and calming experience that promotes relaxation and healing. 

To learn more about our services, visit our website or contact us today!

The Physiological Effects Of Effleurage 

The physiological effects of effleurage massage are numerous and have been well-documented in multiple studies. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of these effects.

Increased Blood Circulation 

As noted earlier, effleurage massage promotes venous return, which helps increase blood circulation throughout the body. This can result in a number of benefits, including improved oxygen (2) and nutrient delivery to the muscles and tissues (3), enhanced immune function (4), and reduced inflammation (5). 

Reduced Muscle Tension 

The repeated gliding strokes applied during effleurage massage can help loosen up tight muscles and reduce muscle tension. This means less pressure on the muscle fibers, which can result in improved flexibility, range of motion, and overall mobility.

Improved Lymphatic Drainage 

Effleurage is also performed in the direction of lymphatic drainage, which can help stimulate the lymphatic system and improve lymphatic flow (6). This helps remove toxins and waste products from the body, promoting overall health and well-being.

Increased Flexibility And Range Of Motion 

By stroking the muscles and tissues gently and consistently, effleurage can help increase flexibility by increasing temperature and elasticity, removing waste products, reducing swelling, and decreasing pain. 

In fact, one study found that Swedish massage (which incorporates effleurage) increased the flexibility of hamstrings in female athletes (7). 

Reduced Stress And Anxiety 

Research has shown that effleurage massage can significantly reduce stress and anxiety levels in individuals. The slow and gentle strokes used in effleurage stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (a network of nerves that relaxes your body after periods of stress or danger)(8). 

This can reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and an increase in feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

Enhanced Skin Health 

The gentle strokes used in effleurage massage can help increase blood flow to the skin, improving skin texture and tone. It can also stimulate the production of natural oils, which can help moisturize the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Improved Digestion 

Effleurage massage can improve digestion by stimulating digestive organs with gentle, circular strokes that increase blood circulation. This can relax digestive muscles, reduce discomfort, and improve the efficiency of the digestive process.

The Benefits Of Effleurage 

Like any massage technique, effleurage has a range of benefits for the mind and body. Some of the most notable benefits of effleurage massage include:


One of the most sought-after effects of massage therapy is relaxation, which can be enhanced with the effleurage massage technique. The gentle strokes of effleurage help to calm the nervous system, reduce tension in the muscles, and promote a sense of overall relaxation and well-being. 

At PRESS, we use a blend of soothing essential oils to help calm and relax your body further during the massage. We also provide soft flannel sheets, extra pillows and blankets, and lavender eye pillows for complete relaxation. 

So, if you're ready to experience the incredible healing power of this gentle massage technique, book a session with us today and let our skilled massage therapists customize your massage to meet your unique needs and preferences! 

Pain Relief 

Several studies have shown that effleurage massage can help reduce pain and discomfort in various parts of the body. By increasing blood flow and reducing tension in the muscles, effleurage can alleviate stiffness and soreness, and even help with chronic pain conditions. 

In one particular study conducted on patients receiving chemotherapy, effleurage was found to be effective in reducing pain and anxiety levels (9). 

Enhances Immune Function 

One of the most important benefits of effleurage massage is that it can help to enhance the body's immune system. It works by stimulating the lymphatic system, which removes toxins and fights infections in the body. Additionally, effleurage helps reduce stress, which can weaken the immune system. 


The Benefits Of Effleurage


Common Body Parts Treated By Effleurage

The most common body parts treated by effleurage are:


Back pain is one of the most common complaints among massage clients, and an effleurage massage is an excellent way to help relieve it. The long, gliding strokes used in this technique help relax the back muscles and increase circulation. In turn, this reduces tension and pain in the back and promotes a feeling of relaxation and well-being.


The legs are one of the most common areas to be treated with effleurage massage. The rhythmic, sweeping strokes of effleurage help relax the leg muscles and increase blood flow, reducing inflammation and improving lymphatic drainage. 

The therapist applies pressure to specific areas of the legs and may use kneading and circular motions to relax the muscles further and improve flexibility.


Effleurage is also an effective treatment for the arms. The gentle strokes used in this technique help reduce tension and promote relaxation in the arms' muscles. In turn, this improves circulation, flexibility, and range of motion. 

Neck And Shoulders

Due to the amount of time we spend hunched over devices or sitting in chairs, many people experience tension and pain in their necks and shoulders. Effleurage massage can be an excellent way to alleviate these symptoms. 

The massage therapist uses gentle gliding strokes along the neck and circular and sweeping strokes on the shoulders to release tension, increase flexibility, and reduce stress.


The abdomen is one of the most commonly treated areas with effleurage massage. This is because the technique can help reduce tension and stress in the abdominal muscles, which can result from physical or emotional stress. It can also help improve digestion, reduce bloating, and improve circulation in the area. 

Face And Scalp 

The gentle, rhythmic strokes on the face and scalp can help relieve tension and promote relaxation. This technique is particularly useful for reducing headaches and sinus pressure. The therapist may use circular motions and pressure points to relax the facial muscles further and improve blood flow. 

Alternative Techniques 

Alternative massage techniques can be used in combination with effleurage to further enhance its benefits. Here are a few examples:


Unlike effleurage, petrissage technique applies deep pressure to the underlying muscles. Wringing, kneading, skin rolling, and pick-up-and-squeeze are the petrissage movements. It is often used to treat muscle pain, stiffness, adhesions, and knots, and can improve range of motion and muscle health.


As the name suggests, friction technique involves applying pressure and rubbing the top layer of tissues against deeper muscles or bones. This helps loosen muscle knots, increases blood flow, and relieves pain. 


Derived from the French word "tapoter," meaning to tap or drum, tapotement is a Swedish massage technique that involves rhythmic tapping or percussive movements on the muscles. It is mostly administered with the edge of the hand, a cupped hand, or the tips of the fingers. This powerful technique helps stimulate circulation, increase muscle tone, and release tension (10). 


The vibration technique involves the therapist placing their hands or fingers on a specific area of the body and using a gentle, trembling, or vibrating motion to stimulate the muscles. The vibration movements can help stimulate nerves, relieve muscular tension, and decrease stress.


Stretching is a massage practice often combined with effleurage to improve flexibility, range of motion, and posture. It helps lengthen and relax muscles, improving circulation and muscle health. This technique can be done actively or passively, with slow, gentle movements to focus on specific or general areas such as the neck, back, and legs.

What To Expect From A Massage Using Effleurage Techniques 

When you receive a massage using effleurage techniques, you can expect a gentle, soothing massage that relaxes your body and increases blood circulation. The massage therapist will use their hands to apply light, gliding strokes over the surface of your skin. 

These strokes are slow and rhythmic, and they are designed to relax the muscles and stimulate the circulation of blood. 

Try Effleurage Massage Today To Experience Its Calming Benefits!

There's no doubt that effleurage massage can provide numerous benefits for your body and mind. However, this is a technique that requires training and experience to perform effectively. Therefore, it’s important to choose a reputable company like PRESS to ensure that you receive a high-quality massage from skilled and experienced massage therapists. 

At PRESS, we offer a range of massage treatments, including our special Signature Massage, which combines effleurage with other massage techniques to provide you with the ultimate relaxation experience. Additionally, our therapists are trained to fully customize the massage to suit your individual needs and preferences, ensuring that you receive the most effective treatment possible. 

So, why not give effleurage massage a try today and experience its calming and rejuvenating benefits? Book a session with us today and let our skilled therapists help you achieve the relaxation and relief you deserve! 

And if you need clarification on which massage technique is best for you, feel free to contact us today. We'll gladly help you choose the perfect massage treatment that suits your needs and preferences.



  1. Wikimedia Foundation. (2023, January 21). Effleurage. Wikipedia. Retrieved from 
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from 
  3. What does blood do? - - NCBI bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved from 
  4. How to boost your circulation (and why it's important!). Henry Ford Health - Detroit, MI. (n.d.). Retrieved from,physician%20with%20Henry%20Ford%20Health. 
  5. ScienceDaily. (2003, January 24). Get your blood moving: Increased blood flow could lead to healthier blood vessels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from,Institute%20for%20Medicine%20and%20Engineering. 
  6. Davis, H. L., Alabed, S., & Chico, T. J. A. (2020, May 7). Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. Retrieved from 
  7. Author links open overlay panelKuljot Kaur, AbstractObjectivesThis study aimeded to examine acute and late effects of five consecutive sessions of Swedish massage on hamstring flexibility and agility of players.Methods: Arandom sample of 34 female players having bilateral tight hamstrings [passive , Forman, J., Apparao, P., Arabaci, R., Arazi, H., Baltaci, G., Barber, O. R., Barlow, A., Berryman-Reese, N., Crommert, E. M., Crosman, L. J., Hallett, M., Hartman, J. G., Hopper, D., & Huang, S. Y. (2020, July 30). Effectiveness of massage on flexibility of hamstring muscle and agility of female players: An experimental randomized controlled trial. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. Retrieved from! 
  8. Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response. (n.d.). Retrieved from 
  9. DM;, G. M. E. S. B. R. L. B. (n.d.). The effects of effleurage hand massage on anxiety and pain in patients undergoing chemotherapy. JAAPA : official journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Retrieved from 
  10. McKechnie, G. J. B., Young, W. B., & Behm, D. G. (2007, December 1). Acute effects of two massage techniques on ankle joint flexibility and power of the plantar flexors. Journal of sports science & medicine. Retrieved from



How does effleurage increase blood circulation?

Effleurage massage involves long, sweeping strokes that are applied with gentle pressure to the skin. This movement stimulates the blood vessels, which helps to increase blood flow and oxygenation to the targeted area.

What is effleurage also known as? 

The two most common names for effleurage are "stroking" and "gliding." This technique is often used as a foundational element in Swedish massage.

What type of stroke is effleurage? 

Effleurage is a gliding stroke used to warm the muscles and increase circulation. It is usually performed using the flat palm of the hand, but it can also be done using fingers.

When should you not massage a client? 

To protect the massage therapist and other massage patients, massage should not be performed on clients with contagious skin conditions, infections, or fevers. Also, massage should be avoided in cases of acute injuries or inflammatory conditions, as it may exacerbate the situation and cause further harm.

Does effleurage reduce inflammation? 

Yes, effleurage can help reduce inflammation in the body. The gentle pressure applied during the massage can help increase blood flow and lymphatic drainage, reducing swelling and inflammation in the targeted area. 

Posted on Thu, Apr 27, 2023