Swedish massage is the most common type of bodywork available in the west. By using a variety of massage movements the goal for Swedish massage is to relax the body and mind.
Swedish massage which inaccurately credits Per Henrik Ling a Professor from Sweden in the nineteenth century as developing the techniques; it was in fact Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger, who adopted the French terms for the massage strokes used for Swedish massage.
The Swedish massage movements used are:-
Effleurage – (a French word “to skim” or “lightly touch”) these are long, slow, gentle strokes used to warm up the muscles to prepare for deeper massage work. These are used at the start and end of the massage to relax and soothe.
Petrissage – (from the French word pétrir, “to knead”) this is a deeper and compressing technique, kneading, wringing, knuckling and skin rolling are all petrissage techniques. This is useful for aching muscles to help remove chemical by-products of physical activity such as lactic acid, by stimulating circulation to clear out toxins from the muscles.
Friction – This is a deeper form of effleurage movement using fingers, thumbs or palms to create heat in the area to increase blood flow and help relax the muscles.
Tapotement – (Percussion) – These are tapping or lightly striking movements to the muscles, using the side of the hands in alternating movement in rapid succession, these are used to tone and stimulate the muscles.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
- Eases muscle tension
- Promotes relaxation
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Relieves muscle cramps and spasms
- Helps with pain management in conditions such as arthritis and sciatica
A study conducted by National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that massage decreased chronic neck pain after 10 treatments over a 10 week period.