Swedish massage is the most popular and widely practiced massage therapy across the globe. It was introduced at the beginning of the 19th century in Europe. It is a full-body massage encompassing the entire body.it is best suited for newbies.
Swedish massage uses five massage techniques to work with and attain optimal bodily relaxation and well-being. These are, effleurage, pettrissage, vibration, friction and tapoment.
As it covers the whole body, it has a heightened level of attaining body relaxations, a tremendous reduction in mental stresses and anxiety, as well as reducing body pains.
Do you want to know more about Swedish massage? Keep reading.
What is Swedish massage?
Swedish massage is the most common and popular type of massage therapy. Nowadays, It is commonly practiced worldwide. In Europe, it is commonly known by the name classical massage.
It is a classical type of massage technique that involves stroking, pressing, squeezing, and striking, shaking, and rolling the body with the help of manual manipulations and other devices to soothe physical, mental and emotional issues.
Swedish massage is a full body massage performed on the entire body by applying long, soft, and gentle rubbing techniques. The pressure applied is light and more relaxing, but, sometimes, depending on the choice of the client/patients, or based on the source of pain, it could also be manipulated by applying, a very vigorous and deep pressure.
Mind that, the lesson, what we should understand here is that, even though Swedish massage is full body rub, either with a light superficial rub or with deep connective tissue rub, the pressure applied is not always necessarily deep and intense pressure.
When we say deep, it is used to indicate the source of pain or muscle knot, that is located deep within the connective tissue or fascia of our body. Not always the type of massage we use.
In contrary to the eastern world philosophy, which beliefs, in energy channeling on the meridian lines, thought to emanate from the divine power, Swedish massage, performs its physical manipulation based on the understanding of the human anatomy and physiology. To read more on what is A Swedish Massage, Click Here.
Origins and history of Swedish massage
Swedish massage was founded in the early 19th century in the western world in the land of Europe. It was founded and invented by a Dutch Doctor, Johann Georg Mezger.
But, many books and writers wrongly dictate as the Swedish massage was invented by a Swedish man called Dr, per Henrik ling, as well as, as it was also founded in the Scandinavian country called Sweden.
By continuing this misnomer narrative, Dr, per Henrik ling was/is still claimed to be the father of Swedish massage which is not true. Indeed, Dr, per Henrik ling was the founder of curative Gymnastics, in the royal central institute in Sweden.
However, these all pieces of stuff and narratives regarding Swedish massage credited to Dr, per Henrik Ling is/were not right. this massage technique was wrongly credited for this man.
According to the Acupuncture and massage college in Florida, on How Did Swedish massage get its name, they have clearly clarified that Swedish massage was developed and systematized by a Dutch practitioner, called Dr, Johann Georg Mezger.
He systematized and organized five Swedish massage styles, using the French names like effleurage, pettrissage, friction, vibration, and tapotement, while he was studying the French massage techniques.
These five styles of Swedish strokes were first proposed in the French language by Dr. Johann Georg Mezger and later translated to English. These mentions are found only in mezger’s books, not in Dr. per Henrik ling.
That is, most probably, the misnomer tagged to Dr. per Henrik ling believed to become an error of language translation. Indeed, these five styles of Swedish massage were not mentioned in Dr. per Henrik ling. That is the reason, why Dr. Johann Georg Mezger should take the credit for Swedish massage.
Indeed, In Europe, Swedish massage is called classic massage, and it originates from the present-day Netherlands. Even in Sweden, which is wrongly claimed to be the origin of Swedish massage, it is best known by the name classic massage, not by the Swedish massage.
But, In English-speaking countries, it is still commonly known by its popular name called Swedish massage. To read more on the origins and history of massage, click here
Methods of Swedish massage
There are five distinctive Swedish massage techniques codified to apply to different parts of the human body proposed by Dr. Johann Georg Mezger. These styles follow their own distinctive stroking techniques. These are
As mentioned above the word effleurage is the French language, which was/is used to mean to stroke lightly or to glide smoothly. While the meaning of effleurage is translated as applying light pressure, actually, the pressure applied while doing the first step of Swedish massage could range from light to deep pressure.
It is performed following a Long, soft gliding technique with sweeping and gliding strokes with the help of palms and fingers. To attain an effective Swedish massage, lubricants like gels or oils, are used.
After applying the lotion, slow and smooth strokes are used to spread the lotion to all body parts. The purpose of the first procedure of Swedish massage is to induce relaxation of muscles and ease tension, reduce muscle spasm and soreness.
Effleurage is manipulated at the beginning of the bodywork commonly intended to warm up muscles to initiate relaxations, release muscle knots, and to reduce mental stresses.
The word petrissage is also a French language. Petrir means kneading or compression. This is the second step done in Swedish massage following effleurage, i.e., after our body gets warmth and initiates relaxation.
It is like kneading dough. It is manually manipulated with repeated lifting and grasping of muscles as well as releasing of tissues with one or both hands with the help of a thumb or finger.
The process includes rolling, Kneading, and squeezing strokes. These all combined helps to initiate the nerve endings to relax, removes unnecessary toxic substances in the muscle.
It also aids to enhance blood flow, loosens adherent and contracted tissues, enhances venous and lymphatic flow, which in return helps to detoxify lactic acid and uric acid.
This technique is manipulated by applying small firm and circular movements. It is performed by traverse motion of finger, thumb, or heel of the palm.
It is done on the back and forth movements. The movement creates heat, warming of muscles which in turn results in deep relaxation and releases tension. It also breaks up nodules and adhesion.
The compression follows firm, circular or perpendicular rhythmic movements. These movements result in releasing muscle knots, spasms, and pains and soothing them out.
Vibration is an oscillatory movement performed by shaking and rocking the body parts. It can be done in a rapid or slow way of movements with our palms and fingers. This vibrational movement helps to release muscle tension and boosts relaxation.
Tapotement too is a French word. It means percussing or tapping into the body. it is a rhythmic tapping, patting, pounding or percussion of the body.
It is done by applying five methods of stroking. These are cupping, beating/hammering, slapping, picking/tapping, and hacking. It is used as the last rub technique in the Swedish rub session. To read more on techniques of Swedish massage, Click Here.
When do you seek a Swedish massage?
Actually, Swedish massage is a gentle type of massage technique that is used to relax our bodies. Most of the time, individuals encounter different forms of stress and tension while doing their day-to-day activities.
E.g., When someone sits in front of a desktop for a long period of time, he will face muscle strains around his neck and buttocks. When a mom carries her kids for a long hour, she may encounter, muscle pains and strains. And, when someone stays at rest, sleeping or standing, for hours, he will develop some sort of discomfort and irritation.
When individuals face with all stuff of boredom and strain, they should seek a Swedish massage, which is used to attain maximum bodily relaxation. So then, they will release their tensions and enjoy a joyful life that is free of stresses and strains.
Don’ts or contraindications for a Swedish massage
Although clients/patients request to get massage therapy, all massage therapy techniques are not given to all individuals blindly. Because it may cause a potential threat or harm to the individual or it may cause a life-threatening condition.
The same is to Swedish massage. Before the commencement of Swedish massage, there are some preconditions that should be ruled out and checked.
If any one of our clients or patients has any one of the following ailments, the massage therapist could partially or completely skip the procedure. These contraindications include
- Blood clots or deep venous thrombosis
- Fracture and high blood pressure
- Contagious disease and herpes zoster or simplex
- Fever and skin diseases like impetigo
- Skin Cancers, hernia
- Inflammations like rheumatoid arthritis
- Recent burn or surgery
- If massage therapists find any of the above signs and symptoms of ailments on their clients, they should refer them for medical intervention and seek medical treatments.
How to prepare for a Swedish massage
After ruling out that, clients are free from any of the above-mentioned associated ailments and contraindications, and confirming that, they are fit for massage therapy, there are some preparations to be undertaken by both the massage therapists and receivers of the massage services.
Actually, as a client, if you don’t have any prior knowledge on the types of massage and kinds of service given, on any massage center / if you have any prior massage experience, you can skip this/, before you directly dive into any massage procedure, you should consult your massage therapist, on the type of massage options you want.
After confirming your choice of massage style with its intensity, prior to your bodywork, adjusted based on your own case, you should come the next day well prepared physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
So then, you will get the optimal benefits of massage therapy as intended. Because all the confusion, blockages, and frightening has gone before your massage contact.
It is clear that any massage therapy can be performed at home or in massage centers. It can be also self-administered traditionally or done by another trained massage therapist.
As with any massage type, Swedish rub can also be done either at home or in specific massage centers. In order to get an optimal results, it is better if clients get massaged by trained and certified massage therapists at massage centers.
So, to add a relaxing and soothing mood, the ambient of massage centers should be rejuvenated with different colors and textures. the rooms should be well decorated with different and attractive scents, images, music, light, and air.
This is the ideal ambient for effective soothing treatments.
To have an effective Swedish massage, accessing only clean rooms and massage therapists is not enough. In addition to these, there are some materials and agents that should be available in the massage center. These include comfortable tables or beds, sheets, oils, gels, lotions, and others.
How to do Swedish massage
Now, we have entered the main operation, i.e., Swedish massage manipulation. IN fact, Swedish massage is a full body massage, encompassing the entire body, which is preferable for newbies and those who want to relax.
Though Swedish massage is intended to cover the whole body, according to the preference and options of clients, it could be limited to some parts of the body based on their requests. Here, clients may also opt for the intensity of pressure to be applied to their bodies.
Some clients may prefer to get a massage on specific body parts, with light or firm pressure and massage therapists should work to fulfill their client’s request based on their claims to achieve satisfying end results i.e., attaining optimum relaxation.
Even though Swedish massage is full body stroke, there are some private organs opted out by most clients. These are breasts, genital organs like vagina, penis, pubic area, scrotal areas, and others. these are not allowed to touch by massage therapists.
And massage therapists too, know which parts of the body to touch and not to touch in favor of their clients to keep their privacy. In addition to this, in some cases, the buttock is also optional. But as it has the longest muscles connecting the upper and lower extremities, skipping this part is not recommended.
Because of that, the buttock has a huge effect on the lower back, leg, gait, and posture of our physical body. And skipping this may not attain the maximum relaxation intended.
So, after evaluating your massage preference, you are going to massage the whole body, which may last from 60-90minutes. Your massage therapists will rub all your bodies from head to toe or from to head.
In this massage, all the head, neck, shoulder, upper back, lower back, buttock/optional/, upper extremity, lower extremity including the foot will be massaged. After applying a lotion, your massage therapist will stroke you following the five Swedish stroke techniques mentioned above.
It is preferable to stroke from the lower to the upper part of your body following the line of your blood vessel / your massage therapist knows it well/. This too is optional. Your massage therapist can start from the upper part of your body, i.e., from the neck and shoulder.
While rubbing your body, your massage therapist will stroke you following Dr. Johann Georg Mezger’s technique with long, soft rhythmic strokes alternating and covering the above five body works. To read more on full-body massage, click here.
Side effects of Swedish massage
In any massage therapy, there are some common side effects manifested from manual manipulations. Some of the side effects may be mild while others could be moderate. These include the following
- Muscle pain
- Temporary Bruising
- Allergy or sensitivity to massage lotions or oils
- Temporary swelling
- Temporary discomfort or soreness
- Temporary fatigue
These are mild and will go by themselves after a couple of hours or days. If you contract with a severe and long periods of time with these effects, you should consult your massage therapist or healthcare provider.
Benefits of Swedish massage
Swedish massage has so many benefits. It has holistic effects on different parts of the body. These benefits come as a result of mechanical and nervous touch effects on our bodies. These benefits include
Mechanical effect; on the physical body
- Improve blood and lymphatic circulation
- Relieve pain
- Increase mobility
- Boosts function of tissues and cells
- Cleans toxins and wastes
Relaxation effect; on the mind
As Swedish massage is done with light and gentle rub, it makes individuals to float and drift peacefully, which is best in releasing stress on the mind.
- Decrease stress
- Decrease anxiety
- Improve insomnia
- Improve depression
- Improve tension
- Boost mood
Emotional effect; on the spirit
- Consciousness/awakening state
- Being/feeling true self
- Presence/experiencing now
- Spiritual enlightenment
Swedish massage is the most popular and practiced worldwide. As it covers the entire body, its relaxing and therapeutic impact is diverse. It helps to attain maximum relaxation, reduce mood stress, and to relieve body aches. By optimizing these, it improves the overall health and well-being of individuals.
Now, I hope, you comprehend Swedish massage. If you have any suggestions and questions, leave a comment.