What is Tapotement: “To chop or not to chop… that is the question!”
Occasionally when I am giving people massages, I come across very tense and sore muscles that are just not relieved or released with more traditional Swedish massage techniques. So, I may use a chopping styled massage technique to see if it will help relax and revitalize the sore muscles, to which the patient often replies “I thought that was only something they use in the movies?” Well, believe it or not, it is an actual “thing” belonging to a group of massage techniques called Tapotement.
Why use Tapotement as a technique
Tapotement is basically a series of gentle to firm, alternating rhythmic percussions applied to the soft tissue using the side of the hands, palms or fingers. It can be used as part of any massage therapy treatment to increase local circulation, stimulate weak and inhibited muscles, release tension to relax muscles, or aid in respiratory conditions.
When used, quickly and vigorously, for less than 30 seconds, it can stimulate and excite the neurological system. This is often used on athletes before an activity or race to wake up their muscles. It can also be used at the end of a massage treatment to bring energy back to their bodies if a relaxing effect is not desired.
However, the longer the tapotement technique is used, the more relaxing the effect is. Over increased time, the nerves become desensitized in that area which allows the muscle to temporarily shut down, let go of tension, and relax. It is a great way to relax the nervous system.
These techniques should never be used over the kidneys, abdomen, bone or injured tissue.
Different types and uses of Tapotement
Hacking or Chopping: This is the most common type and uses the outside of the hand in a karate chop motion. It is best used for areas like the legs and between the shoulder blades to either stimulate or relax the muscles.
Beating or Pounding: This method is best used on larger muscle groups like the gluteal muscles, quadriceps or hamstrings in the legs. The therapist uses their fist, in a controlled pounding type motion, over the affected muscle to either stimulate or relax the muscles.
Cupping or Clapping: Using the palm of the hand in a cupped position, firm blows are delivered to the back with a hollow clapping sound. This can aid various respiratory conditions by loosening mucous in the lungs.
Tapping: The soft tissue is rapidly tapped with the fingertips. This is a gentler technique and is mostly used on the face and head to help aid in sinus drainage.
Pincement or Plucking: Used in the arms, legs or back. This plucking type motion, using the thumb and fingers, can help relieve sore and stressed muscles and promote increased local circulation.
So… To chop or not to chop?? That is for you to decide!
If you have any question, come in to see me at WIN Health Solutions and I would be happy to answer them or try some of these techniques during a treatment! Also, if you want to see these techniques in action, stay tuned in October for a quick video demonstration!
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NAVINA. (2019). Why Does My Massage Therapist Karate Chop Me!?. [online] Available at: https://navina.ca/blog/2016/04/04/massage-karate-chop-treatment/ [Accessed 17 Sep. 2019].
Sunstone Registered Massage Therapy Vaughan Wellness Clinic. (2019). Tapotement Is A Useful Massage Therapy Technique. [online] Available at: http://sunstonemassage.com/massage/tapotement-is-a-useful-massage-therapy-technique/ [Accessed 17 Sep. 2019].
Tapotement.com. (2019). tapotement.com | Tapotement. [online] Available at: https://tapotement.com/ [Accessed 17 Sep. 2019].