What is Swedish Massage
The term "Swedish Massage" refers to a variety of techniques specifically designed to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones, and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Swedish massage was developed in the 1700's by a Swedish doctor named Per Henrik Ling.
The History of Swedish Massage
The invention of Swedish Massage is credited to Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839), a prominent Swedish physician and fencing teacher who combined Chinese gymnastic and medical techniques with early 19th century sports medicine to create a system for relieving sore muscles, increasing flexibility and promoting general health. Ling’s theories were popularized by a fellow Swedish physician, Johann Mezger, who helped legitimize Ling’s techniques in the public’s mind by giving them French names. Most massage practiced in the West is in one way or another derived from Ling’s original work.
How to Perform Swedish Massage?
- The therapist lubricates the skin with massage oil and performs various massage strokes. These movements warm up the muscle tissue, releasing tension and gradually breaking up muscle "knots" or adhered tissues, called adhesions.
- Prior to the start of the massage treatment, the therapist will ask you about any history of previous physical injuries. The main purpose of this is so the therapist can take special care to prevent further damage and assist in the healing process to tissues surrounding injured areas.
- After the consultation, the therapist instructs you how to lie on the table -- face up or face down, and underneath the sheet or towel -- and then leaves the room. He or she will knock or ask if you are ready before entering.
- During a Swedish massage you are generally nude underneath a towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the part of the body he/she is working on, a technique called draping.
- 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, kneading, friction, stretching and tapping.
- When he's finished with the back, he or she works the back of each leg. When done with the back side, he or she holds the sheet or towel up and looks away while you turn over onto your back and scoot down; then he or she quickly covers you again. The therapist then massages the front of each leg, both arms, and generally finishes with your neck and shoulders.
The Techniques Used in Swedish Massage
- Swedish massage techniques include: long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, effleurage, and shaking motions. The usually sequence of techniques are:
- Effleurage: Gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
- Petrissage: Kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
- Friction: Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
- Vibration: Oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
- Percussion: Brisk hacking or tapping
- Passive and active movements: Bending and stretching
The Cost of Swedish Massage
The cost of a Swedish massage will just rely on where you go to, a chain like Massage Envy or go to a massage therapist. Swedish massage pricing will also depend on what part of the country you live and how luxurious the place is.
The Benefits of Swedish Massage
By far, the most popular benefit of Swedish Massage is that it is both relaxing and invigorating. It is an excellent way to help rid the body of tension and to achieve a sense of overall well-being.
- A standard Swedish session lasts for 30 or 60 minutes, and addresses most major muscle groups of the body. The session is usually performed on a soft massage table, in an environment that is meant to relax the recipient. The strokes of the massage relax individual muscles, while the overall experience eliminates mental stress.
- Swedish sessions can target specific areas of pain like a sprained ankle, or they can be used to help manage the chronic pain that comes with conditions like arthritis. By using strokes that improve circulation and increase body-wide relaxation, the massage therapist can help make many painful conditions more bearable.
- The strokes of Swedish massage replicate the movements of the circulatory system. By performing the strokes toward the heart, Swedish massage drains metabolic waste from the limbs of the body.
- Swedish massage can break up muscle adhesions and help promote the healthy healing of scar tissue. Swedish Massage uses strokes like cross-fiber friction to work out the kinks that can accompany injured muscles. These strokes help get rid of scar tissue and return the muscles to their normal, healthy state.
What Should You Do After Swedish Massage
Swedish massage has a detoxifying effect on the body and you can encourage this by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol for the next 24 hours. Also try to avoid any strenuous exercise for 24 hours following treatment and try to rest and allow your body to heal from within