What is Swedish/Relaxation Massage?
Swedish massage is a type of massage that promotes relaxation by releasing muscle tension through a series of several techniques like long strokes, kneading, friction, deep circular movements, tapping, percussion, vibration and shaking motions. The pressure applied should be targeted between the muscles and bones, towards the direction of the flow of blood returning to the heart. The techniques used in a Swedish massage helps to relax the client by stimulating their nerve endings and increasing blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
Back in the 19th century, when it was developed by Swedish physiologist Per Henrik Ling, Swedish massage was called "Medical Gymnastics". When it got to Europe, it was renamed "Swedish Movements" and then "the Swedish Movement Cure" when it arrived in the U.S. in 1858. These days, people just call it Swedish massage.
How Does Swedish/Relaxation Massage Work?
Traditionally, Swedish massage involves the whole body. The therapist starts on either the back or the stomach and then flips over at the halfway point. If there is a particular concern like a tight neck, the therapist can spend more time working on this area. Also, the therapist can adjust the pressure from light, medium to firm depending on the client's preferences.
In most full-body Swedish massage sessions, the client is expected to undress to their level of comfort. However, they may opt to keep their underwear on. The therapist will drape a sheet over the client's body and only uncovers the part that needs to be worked on. In addition, the therapist uses lotion or oil to allow smoother strokes.
The following are the sequence of techniques typically used in Swedish massage:
- Effleurage which involves gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
- Petrissage which involves kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingertips
- Friction which involves circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingertips
- Vibration which involves oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
- Percussion which involves brisk hacking or tapping
- Passive and Active Movements which involve bending and stretching
What are the Benefits of Swedish/Relaxation Massage?
Swedish massage helps increase the flow of oxygen in the blood and thereby releasing toxins from the muscles. The various techniques used in this type of massage is devised to improve circulation, soothe muscles and make the client feel more relaxed.
Swedish massage uses stronger strokes on thicker muscle coverage, while softer strokes are used on the bonier and more delicate parts of the body. The adjustment of pressure makes for an ideal massage for relaxation, which keeps the tendons and ligaments flexible while reducing physical and emotional stress.
In addition to loosening up tight muscles and tissue restriction, Swedish massage calms the nervous system and helps people cope better with a variety of conditions that affect the mind, body and emotions like the following:
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Lower back pain
- Heart disease
- Digestive problems
- Brain fog
- Recovery from injury or illness