Originally, as its name suggests, from California, the popularity of this technique continues to grow. Whether in North America or Europe (where it is also known as ‘sensitive massage’), the Californian massage responds very well to the demand of a clientele who seeks, through deep relaxation, an effective and lasting relief of they’re tensions but also and above all a global harmonization of the whole being. In fact, it is an excellent anti-stress massage!

1- History

2- Applications and effects

3- Indications and contraindications

4- Conducting a session



It was in the 1970s, in Big Sur, California, in the context of a workshop of personal growth at the Esalen® Institute, that the outlines of the technique were constructed. More than to relax, this massage was an opportunity to get back in touch with the body. The first clientele was made up of people in search of interiorization, the Californian massage had to be comforting and reassuring. It also had to be able to relieve muscular tensions which were sometimes deep or had been there a long time. It was from these goals that Margaret Elke largely contributed to organizing a system for the Californian massage.

Proud descendant of the Swedish massage, the Californian massage has kept several maneuvers. They include: applying pressure, kneading and friction rotations that allow the oxygenation and relief of deep tensions, as well as effleurages (circular motions) and sliding motions that promote the activation of fluid circulation.


Applications and effects

The softness of Californian massage is not synonymous with lightness but rather defines the interaction between the giver and the recipient.

Nowadays, this technique has many devotees. Its clientele is wide and highly varied. Men and women of all ages see it as a privileged tool to combat stress. For many people, to receive a Californian massage is to offer an oasis, a recharging.

Since it is given with understanding and compassion, the Californian massage promotes the emergence of body memory and is sometimes of great help for people who have experienced trauma or who are on a psychotherapeutic journey.


Indications and contraindications

Although non-curative, it provides effective relief for people suffering from chronic pain. It allows people with fibromyalgia, arthritic pain or other diseases to relieve some of their muscle pain but also to alleviate another unpleasant aspect of pain by maintaining a positive relationship with their bodies.

There are few contraindications to the massage but it is necessary for the therapist to ensure that the service offered meets the needs and conditions of the client. For example, a person can not be massaged if he or she suffers from fever or a contagious disease or after major surgery.


Development of a session

A Californian massage session begins with a general assessment of the health of the recipient.

In fact, whether preventively or palliatively, the Californian massage is aimed at anyone who wants to keep a healthy contact with their whole body and all their being.

It is with supple hands, applying the proper amount of body weight and breathing, that the therapist invites the recipient to abandon, to release the muscles and sensory rediscovery. Manoeuvres of varied rhythms and depths are applied directly to the skin with oil. Based on a series of defined movements, the Californian massage is distinguished by its long enveloping and fluid movements. Given with profound respect for the integrity of the individual, it leaves plenty of room for creativity and personalization. Although passive, the person who receives a Californian massage participates in an art, that of the consciousness of their own being.

Alexander Benjamin
Sylvain Perron