Where do you begin with what massage would suit you or what massage you would like? There are so
many variations available today, it can be a little daunting to know where to begin. Let me take you back a step – Swedish massage is the basis of a lot of massage therapies. The Swedish massage was developed by Per Henrik Ling from (you guessed it) Sweden. Per Henrik Ling was a physio therapist who developed Medical Gymnastics that later became known as Swedish massage – this all happened in the early 19th century.
The Swedish massage uses hands on movements gliding over the body, kneading, cross fiber friction to break up muscle knots, also known as adhesion. This massage is not just about breaking up muscles and relieving tension it’s about relaxation and pampering.
Your massage therapist uses oils to massage the skin so their hands glide effortless over the body. There
are many different types of oils that can be used to enchance the massage experience – this leads to other styles of massage, like Aromatherapy, Magnesium massages to name a few.
Although your therapist maybe using different oils for your massage, the basis of the massage will still be the Swedish relaxation massage. It should take about an hour for the therapist to completely massage your entire body.
The therapist will use their hands, elbows, fingers, forearms to apply pressure to the body – the
pressure is really up to you. How much pressure you feel comfortable with. Sometimes a firmer pressure is required to ensure knots are broken up.
Swedish Massage Techniques
The Swedish massage therapist uses five different strokes or moves throughout your massage.
- Effleurage – long, gliding, sweeping strokes with open hands and / or forearms. This move is for relaxation, spreading the oil and for the therapist to evaluate your body condition for knots and tension. Your therapist will usually start with a light pressure and building the pressure as they progress into the massage, warming and stretching the muscles and so begins your relaxation time. Your therapist should also check how the pressure is for you as everyone is different and what may be a firm pressure for me is quite light for you.
- Petrissage – your therapist will move onto this movement by kneading the body, rolling, wringing and lifting strokes. This is where they will really start to get into knotted and tight muscles. The Petrissage moves will also stimulate circulation which in turn helps cell repair and regeneration.
- Friction movement is a warming movement to generate heat very quickly on the muscle. Similar to placing a heat pack on your body where there is a pain – the heat helps to alleviate the pain by
softening the muscle. Using the friction movement during a massage will help loosen the knot or tension and allow the therapist to manipulate the area to ease the problem.
- Tapotement movement is performed with cupped, open palms or interlinked fingers in the palms or fists. Quick percussive movement using hands alternatively to tap the muscles. This movement is to assist with release of tension, cramping or muscles spasm.
- Vibration or Shaking movement this is where the therapist rapidly applies shaking, rocking technique to the limb or part of the body being massaged this assists with breaking down the postural holding patterns within the body and to release tension with the muscle being worked on. Vibration and shaking technique also helps boost circulation. Vibration works really well for people with lower back pain.
Therapist developed their own style and technique incorporating all of the five movements and adding to them as they gain experience. Some may incorporate moves from other massage styles this is simply to enhance your treatment.
Massage therapist traditionally use a massage table which is padded and sturdy for your comfort. The
table comes with a head hole for you to look down through and breathe easily. Your therapist will keep all areas of your body towel when not massaging that area. There a couple of reasons for this – firstly for your modesty and a lot of people feel more comfortable covered than being exposed and also to keep the body temperature even – as your therapist massages you, the area being massaged will heat up and it is advisable to keep an even temperature. It is quite normal for you to remove all but minimal clothing for your massage.
In more recent years face and head massage has been added to enhance the Swedish massage experience. At your massage appointment your therapist will ask you to complete a client questionnaire, this is to make sure any health problems you may have will not be hindered by having a massage. Your therapist will also ask if you require any specific areas worked on, even though you may be after a relaxation massage, you may have certain areas that are carrying a slight injury or holding some pain – with a little bit more attention to these areas throughout your massage will provide you
with more than just a relaxation appointment. Your therapist will also be asking about specific areas to massage in case you don’t like having your feet touched or you don’t want your make up removed so no face massage. This is for your comfort and to ensure a wonderful experience you will want to return for over and over again.
In a nutshell the Swedish massage is a beautiful relaxing massage using long rhythmic strokes to massage, knead, stretch and vibrate your body to a place of well being. Be aware this amazing massage will not only pamper you and send your mind on an amazing day dream it will help to repair and rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Time out is needed you can’t go past a relaxing, pampering Swedish massage.