December 20, 2011
Swedish Massage is the most common and best-known type of massage in the West. If it’s your first time or you don’t get massage very often, Swedish massage is perfect for you.
What are the benefits of Swedish massage?
Mental and physical relaxation
Improved range of motion
reduction in muscle soreness and stiffness
Increase blood Circulation
Help restore muscle tone
Increase joint flexibility
Decrease chronic pain
What is a Swedish Massage?
Swedish Massage is performed by trained, licensed massage therapists. It can be slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, depending on the therapist’s personal style and what he or she wants to achieve.
Swedish massage involves the use of hands, forearms or elbows to manipulate the superficial layers of the muscles to improve mental and physical health. Active or passive movement of the joints may also be part of the massage.
Swedish massage uses five styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with soreness, back pain, sports injuries, muscle strains, arthritis, osteoarthritis of the knee, anxiety, depression as well as many other conditions. It has also been shown to be helpful in individuals with poor circulation. The development of Swedish massage is often inaccurately credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes. The term “Swedish” massage is actually only recognized in English, Québécois or Dutch speaking countries. Elsewhere the style is referred to as “Classic Massage”.
What Happens During A Swedish Massage?
Before the massage, the therapist will ask you about any injuries or other conditions that he or she should know about. Things you would want tell a therapist include areas of tightness or pain, allergies, and conditions like pregnancy. You can also tell them up front if you have a preference for light or firm pressure. It’s best not to get a massage if you are ill.
After the consultation, the therapist instructs you how to lie on the table and underneath the sheet or towel — and then leaves the room. He or she will knock or ask if you are ready before entering.
You usually start by laying face down with your head in a u-shaped face cradle so your spine stays neutral. The therapist generally starts by works your back, using various massage strokes that include effleurage (gliding), kneading, friction, stretching and (sometimes) tapping.
The therapist lubricates the skin with massage oil and performs various strokes that warm up and work the muscle tissue, releasing tension and breaking up muscle “knots” or adhered tissues, called adhesions. Swedish massage promotes relaxation, eases muscle tension and creates other health benefits.
When he’s finished with the back, he works the back of each leg. When done with the back side, he holds the sheet or towel up and looks away while you turn over onto your back and scoot down; then he quickly covers you again. The therapist then massages the front of each leg, both arms, and generally finishes with your neck and shoulders.
If you only want 30 minutes, you can also ask him to spend more time on a certain area. If the pressure is too light or too firm, you should speak up and ask the therapist to adjust it. Swedish massage usually includes some deeper work on areas of specific muscle tension.
Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, as opposed to energy work on “meridiens” or sen lines in Asian massage systems. Most people get a 50 or 60-minute Swedish massage, but 75 or 90-minutes gives the therapist more time to work the muscle tissue and achieve results.
Do I have to be Naked?
The short answer is, “No”. During a Swedish massage you are usually nude underneath a towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the part of the body he/she is working on, a technique called draping. If the nudity gets you out of your comfort zone and will prevent you from relaxing and enjoying the benefits of the massage, you can keep your underwear on, and many newcomers do.