Swedish Massage (Swedish Body Massage)
Swedish Massage refers to a variety of techniques designed to relax muscles, and to flush tissues of of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes, thereby increasing circulation. It reduces stress, both emotional and physical.
Swedish massage is the most commonly offered and best known type of massage. It was developed by a Swedish physiologist, Henri Peter Ling at the University of Stockholm in 1812. It uses a firm but gentle pressue to improve the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and create relaxation.
Swedish massage employs five different movements:
This consists of long, gliding strokes from the neck down to the base of the spine or from the shoulder down to the fingertips. When done on the limbs, all strokes are toward the heart to aid blood and lymphatic flow. It is done with the whole hand or the thumb pads. Effleurage is designed to acquaint the therapist with his or her subjectís body and vice versa.
This involves gently lifting muscles up and away from the bones, then rolling and squeezing them, again with a gentle pressure. It generally involves kneading and compression motions - rolling, squeezing, or pressing the muscles to enhance deeper circulation. Petrissage attempts to increase circulation with clearing out toxins from muscle and nerve tissue.
This is the most penetrating of the strokes, and consists of deep circular or transverse movements made with the thumb pads or fingertips. The therapist applies deep, circular movement near joints and other bony areas (such as the sides of the spine). Friction breaks down adhesions, which are knots that result when muscle fibers bind together during the healing process, thus contributing to more flexible muscles and joints.
This consists of a series of briskly applied percussive movements, using the hands alternately to strike or tap the muscles for an invigorating effect. There are many variations on this stroke. It may be applied with the edge of the hand, with the tips of the fingers, or with a closed fist. Tapotement attempts to release tension and cramping from muscles in spasm.
Vibration or Shaking
This involves the therapist pressing his or her hands on the back or limbs, and rapidly shaking for a few seconds. It boosts circulation and increase the power of the muscles to contact. Vibration is particularly helpful to people suffering from low-back pain.
The therapist generally uses massage oil to facilitate making long, smooth strokes over the body. Swedish massage is done with the person covered by a sheet, a technique called "draping". One part of the body uncovered, massaged, and then covered up before moving on to another part of the body.
Swedish massage is the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports, deep tissue and aromatherapy.
Swedish massage feels good, is relaxing and invigorating. It affects the nerves, muscles, glands, and circulation, while promoting health and well being.