This comes from the French word tapoter, meaning to ‘tap’ and is exactly that, a tapping or percussive technique which is a quick, choppy method that has a toning effect on the body. It is very much like playing a drum, performed with the sides or tips of the fingers with alternate hands going up and down.
This massage stroke is practiced by keeping your wrists loose and your movements gentle and bouncy to avoid hurting your partner. A common mistake when learning this stroke is to use your elbows and shoulders which causes frustration for both therapist and receiver.
Tapotement is used on the head, upper back and shoulders, stimulating the blood circulation and the nervous system. It is a stimulating and an invigorating experience, but there are some people who find that this part of the Swedish massage program is too much for them.
Other benefits of the different tapotement strokes are that they reduce fatty deposits and flabby muscle found mainly on the thigh and buttocks areas. If you use gentle percussion strokes on the abdomen conditions like constipation are helped.
There are several different strategies used when applying Tapotement which can be summarized as follows:
• Hacking (or ‘chopping’) is an action where you use the sides of your hands in what would commonly be recognized as a karate chop motion. With your palms facing one another, you tap the surface of your partner’s skin relatively gently whilst moving rapidly across the surface to prevent damage and pain.
• Flicking is a lighter, soft form of hacking. This movement is performed by the sides of the little fingers only and not the edge of the hand.
• Cupping is a technique where you form each hand into a cup by bending your fingers only at the lower knuckle joint whilst keeping your thumb close to the side of your hand. With your hand forming the cup shape, you tap the skin surface whilst moving across it in a rapid succession of movements. Always make sure your hands are cupped and not flat to avoid smacking your partner. When performed on the back area the mucus on the lungs loosens giving relief to the receiver.
• Pummeling: In this final Tapotement technique, you clench your hands into a loose fist before applying them in rapid succession of gentle blows to the surface of your partners skin, most commonly that of the thighs and buttocks.
Always remember Tapotement or percussion movements are always performed on fleshy muscular regions and not on bony or sensive areas of the body. Eg: shins neck, back of knee, bruises or broken veins.
As a result of tapotement being part of your massage, your muscles are stimulated and strengthened inducing muscle tone, blood circulation and nervous system improved.