mid 16th century (denoting chafing or rubbing of the body or limbs, formerly much used in medical treatment):

via French from Latin frictio(n-), from fricare ‘to rub’

  • This massage stroke is commonly used on areas of tension or adhesion in muscles.  Commonly referred to as “knots” (these don’t technically exist as a muscle cannot “knot”).  It can also be used on broader areas of tension where muscles appear tight.
  • Mild to very deep pressure can be applied along the direction of the muscle fibres.  It can also be applied across the muscle fibres.
  • The muscle tissue can be rubbed slowly which helps to control the movement and avoid “slipping” if too much massage medium is being used.
  • Different parts of the hands or fingers/thumb can be used. Forearm and elbow can also be used. It’s best to try and keep finger and thumb joints straight to avoid stressing your joints.  Supporting fingers in a reinforced hand movement (one hand on top of the other works well).  Also reinforcing thumb by placing other hand on top of it works well.
  • Try not to work for too long on one specific point.  5 minutes of localised deep work is normally enough otherwise clients may experience pain/discomfort.

Benefits of friction

  • Clients normally appreciate having their tension spots (“knots”) worked through.
  • Can help release areas of localised tension and adhesion in muscle.
  • Can help reduce areas of soreness and stiffness.

 Things to consider

  • When working on a particular point its best to build up pressure so client can get used to the work.  Asking client to breathe more deeply and exhale often works well, and helps them stay relaxed while technique is applied.
  • Sometimes a feeling of soreness is inevitable in the tissue after being worked with friction.  It is important to tell the client that this is common and should pass.
  • Often follow up treatments are necessary if you find that areas are very tight.  You can’t work through days/weeks/months of tension in one session.