Swedish Massage Therapy
Classic Massage Therapy Techniques
Swedish massage therapy or classic massage therapy is the most common form of massage in the West. It is what most people think of when they think of massage therapy. The techniques used in this form of massage are the basis for most spa massages. Relaxation massages typically use the Swedish massage style.
Swedish massage was created by Pehr Henrik Ling. Ling was a gymnastics teacher who was involved in the establishment of the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in Sweden. While working with gymnasts he developed massage techniques based on ancient Chinese techniques he'd learned from a Chinese friend named Ming. Later the techniques Ling developed were refined and named by Johan Georg Mezger.
Swedish massage is characterized by four basic strokes.
Oil or lotion is used during the massage. Strokes are to flow in the direction that blood circulates towards the heart. They start out superficially giving the tissue a chance to warm up. Once the tissue is warm the therapist starts doing deeper more intense work.
Before your massage your therapist should ask you about any conditions you have and your reason for getting the massage. Finding out this information helps her determine what to focus on during your massage and what to avoid. Be honest with your therapist when asked about medications and other medical conditions. If you take certain medications or have some conditions you may not be able to get a massage. The therapist is just asking you these questions for your safety.
During your treatment you will lay on a massage table beneath a sheet or towel. The therapist will show you to the treatment room and leave you alone to disrobe. You should undress to your level of comfort and lay down on the table under the provided draping. You will remain covered during the session to maintain your modesty. The therapist will uncover parts of your body as she needs to work on them.
I was trained in this method of massage as are most therapist trained in the US. It is a good jumping off point for learning other modalities. Therapists can easily incorporate different modalities they've studied into a Swedish massage to provide you with a unique experience that has been tailored to you.
Swedish massage has many of the same benefits as listed in my article The Benefits of Massage Therapy.
It helps with relaxation, circulation and skin and muscle health. The main goal is to flush toxins out of the system while increasing the nourishment received by muscle cells.
Its popularity in the Western world is proof of its effectiveness.