Information on Swedish Massage
Definition of Swedish Massage
Swedish massage, also known as classic or therapeutic massage, is said to have been developed in the year 1813 by Pehr Henrik Ling, and has become one of the most widely known ad requested forms of massage in the United States. Ling, a physiologist at the University of Sweden, based the techniques of Swedish massage on strokes used by ancient Greeks and Romans, but the system was originally known as Medical Gymnastics or Swedish Gymnastic Movements. Like most types of massage, Swedish massage relies on the application of pressure to the muscles, tendons and ligaments in order to improve circulation, release toxins and ease stress.
How to Give a Swedish Massage: Tips and Techniques
There are a number of techniques commonly used in Swedish massage. Johann Metzger is credited with using French nomenclature to describe the strokes. The five major techniques of muscle and tendon manipulation include:
- Effluerage- The long strokes of Swedish massage are designed to stimulate blood flow and improve circulation.
- Petrissage- Kneading and squeezing actions are used to loosen tense surface muscles so that the massage therapist can access deeper layers of muscle tissue.
- Friction- Friction between two objects causes heat, which causes muscle tissue to relax and loosen. The friction can either be between the hands of the massage therapist, or between the skin of the patient and the hands of the massage therapist.
- Tapotement – Tapotement or tapping, consists of chopping motions performed with the hands in a cupped or clenched fist position, and is useful in releasing tension
- Vibration- During the vibration portion of the massage, the practitioner move the hands or fingertips back and forth across the patient’s skin, loosening muscles, promoting blood flow, and stimulating lymph glands.
- Swedish massage also incorporates bending and stretching motions, as well as rocking techniques.
Many of the tips that are recommended for other types of massage also work well for Swedish massage and are aimed at loosening the muscle tissue with heat prior to the massage, then aiding in the removal of toxins by keeping the body hydrated.
- Warm up the affected tissue before beginning the massage. Heat packs or hot showers are recommended, but gentle compressions with the heel of the hand can also be an effective warm-up method.
- Suggest that the client drink large quantities of water to help wash away the toxins that are being released from the muscle tissue.
- Start with long strokes, moving gradually into using shorter strokes. The long strokes will loosen the overlying muscle tissue, allowing underlying deep tissue to be accessed more easily. When using long stroke on the limbs, start further away from the body and work inward. This technique promotes circulation, ensuring a more effective massage.
- Communication is the key to the overall massage experience. Be sure to encourage an open dialogue with the patient in order to minimize discomfort resulting from excessive pressure on affected tissue. Pain is counterproductive since it actually causes the muscle to contract instead of lengthen.
- In the case of serious injury, be sure to recommend that the patient visit a doctor in addition to their regular massage treatments. Swedish massage should be complementary to other medical treatments, not a replacement for them.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
Relaxation: reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
Relief from muscular tension, stiffness, and pain: Swedish massage can even help improve muscle tone allowing greater flexibility, improved athletic performance, and quicker healing time for injuries.
Improvement in circulation: Better blood flows equals better body function. Improved circulation from Swedish massage helps to speed up the removal of toxins from muscle tissue, and can often reduce swelling or edema in the limbs.
Improvement in immune system function: The combination of relaxation, reduction of stress and improvement in circulation has a very beneficial effect on the immune system. Because the body doesn’t have to work as hard pumping blood and removing toxins, it can focus more energy on fighting diseases that can otherwise overwhelm its natural defenses.
Is Swedish Massage Safe?
Swedish Massage isn’t recommended during periods of acute illness (such as flu accompanied by high fever), or for those with poisoning of any kind (food, venom), external injuries (wounds, fractures), kidney failure, respiratory failure, contagious skin diseases or advanced stage cancers.
Oakworks carries a wide variety of portable massage tables as well as massage table packages which include many of the massage accessories and equipment that you need to have a successful career in Swedish Massage.