Massage and other such fascinating things

Leave a comment

19 Things To Know About Effleurage

Did you know that massage techniques are categorised into various groups? Here they are…effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement and vibration. For now, let’s focus on effleurage.

Effleurage comes from the French word ‘effleurer’ which means ‘to touch lightly’ or ‘to skim’. When doing a massage, it’s usually the first technique to be applied and the last one too. If you fancy trying out some effleurage yourself, here’s a video to show you how.

Video – Massage technique: Effleurage on the Back

And here’s more stuff on effleurage that you might not know about.

  1. It can be used on any part of the body and face.
  2. It’s often used for massaging in a general way, not honing in specifically on a particular area.
  3. It’s a long gliding stroke that follows the contours of the body or face.
  4. It can be light or deep, but always lighter to start off with to warm the area.
  5. Effleurage prepares the muscles for deeper massage and soothes them after deeper massage.
  6. You can effleurage making whole hand contact, with the palms of the hand, fists, knuckles, fingertips and forearms.
  7. It’s used to apply the massage medium (oil, cream, lotion) to the skin.
  8. At the start of the massage effleurage accustoms the client to the massage therapist, and the massage therapist to the client.
  9. It can be used as a way of palpating, sensing and evaluating the client’s body; finding out where areas of tightness, tension or soreness are.
  10. It warms, soothes, relaxes – both body and mind.
  11. Light effleurage can help with lymphatic drainage.
  12. Slow effleurage has a calming effect on the nervous system, and fast effleurage has a more stimulating effect on the nervous system.
  13. It reduces tension and tightness in the muscles. Even relieves tired achy muscles.
  14. It helps with local blood flow to the skin and muscles.
  15. It’s used as a linking movement between one massage technique and the next, facilitating a smooth and flowing feel to the massage treatment.
  16. It passively stretches muscle when applied along the muscle fibres and can improve suppleness.
  17. It’s used to finish the massage over each body part and to soothe the area that’s been worked on.
  18. Effleurage is good for us.
  19. Even the word ‘effleurage’ sounds good. Go ahead, say it out loud!


Happy massaging!
Doreen and Dympna 🙂


Leave a comment

5 Must-Have Essential Oils For Your Hols

The sun has got his hat on at last and many people will soon be off on their summer travels. I imagine quite a number pack an emergency 1st aid kit of some kind. Do you know what’s part of mine? Essential oils! Over the years they’ve more than earned their weight and place in my suitcase on journeys all over the world…though I haven’t been to Berlin or the South Pole.


Flying penguin off on hols wit suitcase

Here are those 5 must-haves…


1) Pass the Peppermint please

A few years ago in India, I thought I was doing pretty well 2 weeks in, when all around me had already succumbed to…yes, you’ve guessed it…Delhi Belly, until I woke with a cramping stomach and fever. A day in bed, sleep and peppermint essential oil (Mentha piperita) diluted in lotion and rubbed onto my abdomen at regular intervals, and I felt loads better.

Peppermint has a refreshing aroma and you could find it useful to uplift yourself after your journey. It’s a pretty good all round essential oil, and can be used for colds, aches and pains, travel sickness, and headaches.

The essential oil is extracted from leaves of the herb, and has a strong, fresh and minty aroma.


2) Lemony Lemongrass 

Have you ever stayed in a hotel room or apartment and the smell that greets you seems less than fresh? Yes me too. As well as being pretty good at repelling insects, Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) refreshes and deodorises. Quickly changing any stale smells. It’s also reviving and uplifting after a long flight or roadtrip. 

The essential oil is extracted from the grassy leaves, and has a lemony odour that’s quite strong, clean and fresh.

Koala bear and baby in a eucalyptus tree

3) A Eucalyptus by any other name

Everyone knows the use of the more common Eucalyptus (Eucaplyptus globulus) as an aid to respiratory infections like coughs and colds. Not everyone has come across the lemon-scented eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) though. With its lemony, not menthol, odour it is becoming more known in recent times for its insect repelling properties especially against mosquitos. I can tell you this has been extensively tested by me during meditation outdoors on a mountain retreat in Thailand! It’s also been shown to have anti-fungal properties.

The essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the tree, and has a lemony, fresh, slightly sweet odour.

4) Lavender the stalwart

When you think of aromatherapy do you think lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)? It’s probably the most well known essential oil and the plant itself is flowering abundantly in lots of gardens right now. So what can you use it for? This is another insect repellent, it’s soothing for burns including sunburn, it helps you sleep, it’s healing for bites and grazes – that reminds me of a time when I badly cut my right leg by falling down a drain in the Seychelles. Don’t ask! Well ok then…it was pitch black and I was on my way to a hotel for evening cocktails. Shock must have played a part as I pulled myself out of the drain and made it to the cocktail lounge as if it was completely normal to drink cocktails on a beautiful, balmy evening in the tropics watching the sunset, with blood gushing down my leg.  Needless to say, more sensible people than I brought me to my senses, performed necessary first aid and sent me packing.

The essential oil is extracted from the flowering tops and leaves of the plant, and has a distinctive floral, herbaceous aroma.

5) The ubiquitous Tea Tree

 Another very well known essential oil is Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Another one for cuts and grazes, bites and stings, and also for coughs and colds, sore throats from summer colds or maybe being in aircon a lot. It can be used with lavender for burns after first aid has been administered.

The essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the tree and has a strong, medicinal aroma.

Why restrict yourself to just five essential oils?

I normally throw in a couple more too…geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).

N.B. if you’re using essential oils, please do check out their safety issues first, and how to dilute them to apply. If in doubt consult a qualified aromatherapist.


Home or away – happy aromatic holidays, enjoy!

Doreen and Dympna 🙂

Leave a comment

Discover Our Top 10 Essential Oils

Students on our aromatherapy courses often ask what are our favourite essential oils. So we’ve put together our Top 10 List. When there are so many essential oils to choose from, you might ask why these?  Well we looked at which essential oils were – to us – the most versatile and could be used for most everyday occurrences, and this is the list we came up with.

lavender field

Have to say, not all our favourite essential oils made it to this list though….Neroli (Doreen’s fav) was hovering pretty close, as were Frankincense, Rose Otto (Dympna’s fav), Ginger, Ylang Ylang and Lemon!
1.  Bergamot – Citrus bergamia
2.  Clary sage – Salvia sclarea
3.  Eucalyptus – Euclayptus globulus
4.  Geranium – Pelargonium graveolens
5.  Juniperberry – Juniperus communis
6.  Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
7.  Peppermint – Mentha Piperita
8.  Roman chamomile – Anthemis nobilis
9.  Rosemary – Rosmarinus officinalis
10.Tea tree – Melaleuca alternifolia
Happy aromas!
Doreen and Dympna 🙂

Leave a comment

Getting Well Oiled

bottles of oil

Probably the most popular oils used for massage are sweet almond, sunflower or grapeseed. There’s a pretty big range of oils available for massage therapy so how about changing from the usual suspects and experimenting with different types of vegetable oils? Pure vegetable oils have amazing therapeutic properties and can greatly enhance the massage we’re giving, as well as providing a good ‘slip’ over the skin.

Jojoba, for example, is actually a liquid wax, and leaves the skin feeling ultra- smooth and silky.  It’s particularly good for facial massage and can be equally as beneficial to oily skin as well as dry skin.

Avocado, so yum and good for us when we eat them, and so good for us when we apply the oil to our skin (make sure it’s the unrefined version and that means it is a gorgeous sludgy green colour and not pale yellow)…perfect for dry skin or mature skin, acting as an emollient.

Do check out Borage and Hazelnut oils as they are both great for dry skin.  Rosehip can be used to help reduce the appearance of scar tissue and for burns as it helps stimulate skin cell regeneration.

Calendula, St John’s Wort and Comfrey can all be used as anti-inflammatory agents, so helpful for eczema, psoriasis, burns and even arthritic joints.

By the way, do use pure vegetable oils and not mineral oils or refined vegetable oils. Refined oils have to be heated at really high temperatures to extract more oil from the raw plant material and nutrients are destroyed in the process. Then usually the colour is stripped and the oil is deodorised (that means the odour is stripped from it). Sounds nice, eh?

Another thing to be aware of is that it isn’t possible to produce ‘pure’, unrefined versions of some vegetable oils. St. John’s Wort, Calendula and Carrot are what are known as macerated oils. This means that that the raw plant material is steeped in another carrier oil during extraction. So really what you end up with is a mixture of, for example, Calendula oil and the original carrier oil.

For massage, some of the  more viscous carriers would benefit from being mixed with a lighter oil like sweet almond or sunflower. Otherwise they tend to absorb into the skin too readily.

Enjoy ‘getting well oiled’.
Doreen and Dympna 🙂