Swedish massage is the most commonly offered and best-known type of massage. If it’s your first time at the spa, Swedish massage is the perfect place to start.
Why Is It Called Swedish Massage?
Swedish massage was pioneered by a Swedish physiologist, Henri Peter Ling, at the University of Stockholm in 1812. It was introduced to the U.S. in 1858 as “The Swedish Movement Cure.” Swedish massage is the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports massage, deep tissue massage and aromatherapy massage.
Purpose of Swedish Massage
The main purpose of Swedish massage is to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles.
Swedish massage shortens recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes. It increases circulation without increasing heart load. It stretches the ligaments and tendons keeping them supple and pliable. Swedish massage also stimulates the skin and nervous system and soothes the nerves themselves at the same time. It reduces stress, both emotional and physical, and is suggested in a regular program for stress management. It also has many specific medical uses.
What Happens During Swedish Massage?
During Swedish massage, massage therapists use massage oils to facilitate smooth, gliding strokes called effleurage. Other classic Swedish massage moves include kneading, friction, stretching and (sometimes) tapping.
Swedish massage uses firm but gentle pressure to promote relaxation, ease muscle tension and create other health benefits.
Feel free to state your preference for pressure during Swedish massage. It can range from light to firm. Swedish massage usually includes some deeper work on areas of specific muscle tension. If you want more intensive work and firmer pressure, get a deep tissue massage.
Swedish massage techniques include: long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, effleurage, and shaking motions. The usual sequences of techniques are:
- Effleurage: Gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
- Petrissage: Kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
- Friction: Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
- Vibration: Oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
- Percussion: Brisk hacking or tapping
- Passive and active movements: Bending and stretching
Benefits of Swedish Massage