Most people who are not very familiar with massage therapy have at least heard the term Swedish Massage. That is the universal name for the most basic type of massage. Swedish massage is the most widely-used modality and is often incorporated into other massage protocols. Swedish massage is very popular in Spas and Resorts around the world as well as for my clients right here in Salt Lake City, Utah. I use Swedish massage strokes in every massage that I perform, but in conjunction with Deep Tissue Therapy, Injury Massage, Sports Therapy etc…
You are probably thinking that massage therapy was first used in Sweden considering that Swedish Massage is the general moniker. However, the art of massage is found in writings dating back as early as 3000 B.C. Massage has literally been around forever! From China, it spread through the East and Europe. The Greeks implemented massage into their fitness regimens and the Romans built public baths for people to perform massage on each other.
But Swedish Massage comes from Swedish Physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839). Swedish massage is a system consisting of many organized techniques and this system was created by Ling. Therefore, he became known as “the father of Swedish Massage.” Ling developed Swedish massage to cure his own ailment. He suffered from an extremely painful and debilitating joint disease and decided to travel the world to find his own approach to treatment.
Before we discuss this system of strokes that are included in Swedish massage, there are a few key elements that separate this type of massage from other modalities. These massage strokes must be applied with gentle pressure. Swedish massage sedates our Circulatory System, and therefore, is used primarily for relaxation. Also, by sedating our bodies’ systems, relief from pain is also a goal. It makes sense that Per Henrik Ling developed this system to alleviate his illness. Now let’s list the specific strokes:
- Effleurage: Using the entire surface of the hand, effleurage is used to skim or glide over the skin to create the sensation of length
- Petrissage: Meaning “to knead, Petrissage is used for just that. This stroke essentially “milks” specific muscles to increase circulation and should be used after superficial strokes.
- Friction: Friction strokes can be applied with fingers, thumbs, palms, and knuckles and are used at a fast pace to create heat and increase blood flow.
- Vibration: Used primarily with fingertips, Vibration is used by applying pressure in a vertical movement into the tissue without removing the fingertips from the skin. This creates a numbing effect on the muscles.
- Tapotement (Percussion): Meaning “to pat, drum or pat”, palms, fingertips, cupped-hands or fists can be used in Tapotement. Also, you can use a chopping motion with the Ulnar side of your hand. This stroke is used to stimulate muscle tissue and increase blood flow. I personally do not use Tapotement in Swedish body-work sessions. I use these strokes only in Deep Tissue and Sports Therapies because it prepares the body for exertion and also aids in injury prevention.
One final aspect that is very important in Swedish massage along with all of the massage modalities, is direction of the stroke. All strokes must travel towards the heart. Moving in this direction supports the movement of fluid back to the heart.
Now that you are aware of how the system works, let me describe the benefits of Swedish Massage besides relaxation and pain management:
- Increases circulation to increase immune function
- Increases joint flexibility and range of motion
- Increases mental clarity and feelings of well-being
- Reduces stress immensely
- It Feels Awesome!
For my Salt Lake City, Utah clients that have never experienced a massage before, I highly recommend starting with a Swedish Massage. The majority of my clientele receive Deep Tissue Massage and Sports Therapies due to injuries or over-worked muscles from physical activities. But I do perform Swedish Massage Therapy and the results always amaze me. Most massage therapists who perform Swedish Massage will report that clients come out of these sessions “glowing.” This system of specific strokes has been proven to physiologically and mentally relax the receiver. Clients who receive Swedish massage sessions from me often report feeling clear-minded and simply happy. Swedish Massage also relieves stress and emotional anguish, and I hear many tearful thank-yous for easing this. If Swedish Massage interests you please schedule with me today for your swedish massage in Salt Lake City, Utah. Call (801) 349-3934 or you can use my online contact form.