3 basic muscle massage directions
When you massage, you massage muscles, not bones, and there are different directions you can massage. This week I’m going to show you the three basic directions you can massage on a muscle.
Before I start, what is muscle? Muscle is bundle of fibrous tissue. We all have three kinds of muscles in our body. Cardiac muscle makes up the heart to pump the blood, smooth muscles are found in digestive system to move the food inside the body, and skeletal muscle that stores energy and move a bone. When we say “muscle” we are referring to the skeletal muscle that are visible and accessible under the skin to massage. Cardiac and smooth muscles are always at work behind the scene but we cannot see or access or massage them.
Skeletal muscles are usually attached to bones via tendons. Muscle fibers are aligned in one way. You can see the muscle fiber direction in stripes in a muscular system diagrams. Red area is muscle and white area is tendon.
When you massage muscles, one way is to massage with the fiber. For example, the forearm muscles run along the forearm bone. You can massage in the direction of the muscle fiber from the wrist to the elbow. You can do long strokes. This promotes circulation and movement of the fluid. If the giving hand gets tired, you can also keep it stationary and move the receiving arm. You can also do short strokes on a tight spot in the direction of the fiber.
The second way is to massage against or perpendicular to the fiber. On the same forearm muscle now I’m cross-fibering on different spots. This is more invasive than the first one and often used in sports massage, treatment of muscle tear injury, breaking up the scar tissue, and to realign the muscle fibers. Again, if the giving hand gets tired, you can move the receiving arm.
The third way is to circle. This is least invasive and generic. You can use this to warm up the area or loosen up the area. You don’t really have to know the anatomy. When you massage in a circular motion you will always partially hit the direction of the muscle fiber.
Of course our body is 3D and you can do more on the third dimension but these are basic massage directions that you can do on 2D on a muscle.
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