Sports massage techniques – Tapotement

Tapotement is a technique which involves the rhythmical tapping of percussion of the soft tissues.

Unlike many of the other massage techniques, the purpose of tapotement is to stimulate rather than relax the client, since it acts upon the sympathetic nervous system.



Effects of tapotement include:

– Stimulating a reflex muscular contraction (therefore useful for muscles that exhibit poor recruitment).

– Rapidly increasing local circulation.

– Stimulating nerve endings.

– Leaving the client feeling physically and mentally invigorated.



The therapist stands facing the treatment area and ‘strikes’ the tissues with alternate hands at speed. For greatest therapeutic effect and minimal discomfort, it is vital that the SMT’s joints remain loose throughout.


Variations of tapotement:


– Hacking

The palms face each other with the fingers either spread for a lighter application or closed for a heavier application.


– Cupping

The figures and palms form arches to trap air as the hands alternately strike the tissues, creating a vacuum as each hand is pulled away.


– Beating

Performed with the hands in loose fits dropping alternately onto the tissues, striking with the heel of the hand and flat distal digits simultaneously.


– Pounding

Loose fits rotate over each other in an action similar to that used on a boxing speed ball.


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