What is Swedish Massage?
Swedish Massage is the most popular form of Western massage, and the source of many classic techniques including as tapotement (striking), petrissage (kneading), effleurage (stroking) and frictions (rubbing). These motions form the basis of many other types of massage, including Deep Tissue Massage and Sports Massage.
This is an excellent introductory treatment for those new to massage, as it can be either slow and relaxing, or bracing and intense, depending on your needs.
Who developed Swedish Massage?
Surprisingly, the true origins of the Swedish Massage have been hotly debated. Having been incorrectly attributed to Per Henrik Ling, the creator of “The Swedish Movement Cure” in 1858, the basic strokes were actually named by the Dutch doctor Johan Georg Mezger.
By 1890, a number of physicians had documented the effects of a this type of massage, and it was being widely employed in sanitariums around the world. However, it is only in the 20th century that it’s practice widened to become both a holistic therapy and luxury treatment, with physical and mental benefits that can be felt by anyone.
How does Swedish Massage differ from Chinese Massage?
Swedish Massage is grounded in Western concepts of physiology and anatomy, rather than an Eastern understanding of “meridians”. Chinese Massages are designed to balance qi, or “life force” within the body, by releasing both physical and energetic blockages.
While no less balancing, Swedish Massages use similar principles to realign the body, deeply release the muscles and promote blood flow to areas of tension, but are less spiritual in their philosophy.
Either tradition of massage can be used to increase relaxation, improve sleep and support the body’s natural healing processes.
What happens during a Swedish Massage?
A full body experience, this treatment typically begins with you completely undressing (although you are welcome to keep your underwear on) and covering yourself with a towel on a massage table.
After discussing your needs, your therapist will perform a variety of techniques, adjusting the towel as they go so you always feel comfortable. You should let them know if you prefer a firmer or lighter pressure at any time. If your therapist finds an area of particular tension, they may use a stronger touch, but you should never feel unbearable pain.
Swedish massages may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, and can have a cumulative effect. If it’s your first time having a massage, your therapist may perform more surface work, so they can get into deeper muscles next time.
You may feel some areas of mild soreness the next day. If this happens, try taking a warm bath and drinking plenty of water.
The benefits of Swedish Massage
Swedish Massage is an excellent addition to a healthy, balanced lifestyle, and may have some of the following benefits:
- Creates a sense of wellness and relaxation
- Warms and stretches superficial tissue
- Promotes blood through throughout the body
- Reduces stress by decreasing cortisol levels
Who should try a Swedish Massage?
Swedish Massage can be both relaxing and energising, and is ideal for anyone who wants to emerge from their treatment feeling calm and composed.
It uses a lighter pressure than many other types of message, but is still not appropriate for pregnant women, who should always select a specialist Pregnancy Massage instead. If you’re suffering from a serious illness you should speak to your doctor before starting any course of massage therapy.