Therapeutic massage has been a popular form of health treatment for ages. While there are many styles of massage therapy, Swedish massage is the standard of massage treatment offered in spas and sports facilities all over the country. Swedish massage can help to relax, rejuvenate, and nurture your mind and body.
What is Swedish Massage?
One of the most popular styles of massage available today is Swedish massage. In 1812 at the University of Stockholm, a Swedish physiologist named Pehr Henrik Ling created the foundation of this style of treatment to promote health by increasing blood circulation and stimulating the body’s healing abilities. It is now known that Ling’s greatest influence came from a Chinese friend who was a master of Martial Arts and Chinese Tui Na massage. While this influence of Chinese Tui Na massage therapy is evident in Swedish massage techniques, the direct lineage is rarely mentioned. A Dutch practitioner named Johan Georg Mezger later developed a reduced set of Ling’s techniques to form our modern style of Swedish massage; it is Mezger who adopted the French names commonly used to denote the basic strokes.
Swedish massage is the most common style of massage in the Western world. It is a full body massage, and is performed on a nude client who is draped with a sheet to provide covering. Oil, cream, or lotion is applied to the skin to reduce friction and allow the smooth strokes that are characteristic of Swedish massage. Essential oils may be combined with massage oils to create an additional aromatherapy affect during the treatment.
What are the Techniques of Swedish Massage?
There are five main techniques used in Swedish massage:
- Effleurage: these are long guiding strokes over the surface of the body, used to warm up the body before deeper techniques are utilized. When massaging the limbs, the strokes are made toward the torso to help guide blood back to the heart. This is the most relaxing technique of Swedish massage.
- Petrissage: these are kneading motions that tenderize muscles with rolling and squeezing movements. This technique can be useful for extracting toxins trapped within muscles and other soft tissue by enhancing circulation deep within the muscles.
- Friction: deep pressure concentrated on single fingers or a thumb and used in a transverse or circular movement to break apart adhesions between muscle fibers.
- Tapotement: rhythmic percussive techniques used to relax muscles that are in spasm. There are many different hand shapes used in this invigorating technique over the entire body.
- Vibration: oscillatory shaking movements applied to the limbs or an organ that reverberates through the entire body to loosen adhered joints and muscles.
Most massage therapists incorporate a variety of technique into their massage sessions. This expansion has lead to several derivatives of Swedish massage, most importantly sports massage. Sports or deep tissue massage uses slower stokes with stronger pressure to manipulate deeper layers of tissues within the body. These techniques are often less comfortable than the standard Swedish movements. However, positive therapeutic results can be achieved with these techniques by breaking up scar tissue and adhesions in muscles and connective tissues.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
Swedish massage can be very beneficial for the mind and body:
- Swedish massage promotes relaxation: The soft flowing movements of Swedish massage can gently guide your mind and body into a state of deep relaxation, stripping away levels of tension and agitation from your mind. These changes to your mental state can help you better manage stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
- Swedish massage relieves muscular tension, stiffness, and pain: Whether from neglect or overuse, Swedish massage can relieve muscular discomfort. This improved muscle tone will allow greater flexibility, improved athletic performance, and faster healing of injuries.
- Swedish massage improves circulation: The better your blood flows through its vessels, the better your body functions. Improved circulation from Swedish massage can assist in the healing of injuries, the removal of toxins from your muscles, and clearing up swelling or edema in the limbs.
- Swedish massage improves your immune system: The combined effect of decreased stress and muscular tension with efficient blood circulation is a stronger immune system. The additional stimulation upon the skin by the flowing techniques of Swedish massage stimulates the skin’s natural resistances to infection.
Swedish massage can be a method for both relaxation and improving your health. Seek a properly trained massage therapist to experience a revitalized mind and body today!