by Dr. Ross Turchaninov, MD

The phenomenon of adaptation is one of the practitioner’s greatest hindrances to building a successful massage practice when working within the boundaries of stress-reduction and therapeutic massage. As the authors of the previous article have correctly pointed out, the client’s adaptation can be successfully prevented if the practitioner takes care to constantly change the massage routine, alternatively rotating the use of several advanced techniques from session to session. We will share one such technique with you in this article. It is called friction-kneading, and is part of the vast collection of massage techniques to be found in┬áVideo Library of Therapeutic and Stress-Reduction Massage.

We developed this technique for massage on large areas with significant muscular mass (e.g., paravertebral regions, thigh, etc.). This is a bi-manual technique, with one hand playing the leading role and the other hand having a supportive role.


The beginning of the video shows the movements of the leading hand from the frontal view. The leading hand makes a fist and is placed on the massaged area on the dorsal surface of the proximal phalanges of the 2nd-to-5th fingers.

If the fist is tight FK becomes a more aggressive technique, while a relaxed fist provides a softer application of FK. The decision as to how tight the fist is to be formed should be based on the degree of resistance of the large muscles in the massaged area — the greater the muscle’s resistance, the tighter the fist should be. The leading hand should execute circular movements as shown in the video. Also, the video shows the movements of the leading hand from the posterior view.

The leading hands needs additional stabilization during the strokes because it can slip to the side and the practitioner may strain the wrist joint. Necessary stabilization is provided by the supportive hand. The supportive hand is placed on its ulnar edge and embraces the fist and wrist joint of the leading hand. Don’t embrace the leading hand too tight, so as to allow it to conduct its circular strokes.

The supportive hand has another important function. It targets the skin and superficial fascia by stretching the fibrotic bridges between these anatomical structures during the mobile application of FK.

The most common mistake during the application of this technique is incorrect placement of the supportive hand. The ulnar edge of the supportive hand has to slide along the skin, but in many cases practitioners squeeze the wrist joint, thus keeping the supportive hand above the body surface; this error renders the supportive hand useless.

The last part of the video shows the clinical application of FK on the paravertebral muscles. Press the ulnar edge of the supportive hand into the tissue, hug the fist and wrist joint of the leading hand, which starts to apply circular strokes. The practitioner should combine circular strokes in the wrist joint with simultaneous application of vertical pressure on the fist.

Now the practitioner has two choices: to remain in the same place applying FK in the fixed mode, or to move both hands along the massage area applying FK in the mobile mode (shown in video). The advantage of the mobile mode is the impact of the supportive hand on the fibrotic bridges as discussed above.

During the application of FK in the mobile mode, the ulnar edge of the supportive hand pushes forward a fold of skin in front of both hands, thereby reducing tension in the skin and superficial fascia.

If the circular strokes have a small radius, the practitioner delivers the therapeutic impact of friction only. If the practitioner increases the radius of the circular strokes and applies vertical pressure simultaneously, he or she combines the therapeutic impacts of friction and kneading.


The correct application of FK depends upon the practitioner’s proper body mechanics. This video addresses this important point. Notice the position of the practitioner’s right shoulder, arm and forearm. Such a position is necessary for the application of the vertical pressure at the same time as the hand conducts its circular movements originating from the wrist joint. This is only way to perform FK easily without risking hand injury, and to maintain fluidity of the strokes.

Category: Stress Reduction Massage

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