Despite its name, Swedish Massage does not have its origins in Sweden, nor was a Swede its creator. In fact, there is no such thing as "Swedish Massage" in Sweden, and in Europe, this system of massage is known as Classic Massage. However, in America, this massage technique is thought to be the most basic and classic forms of massage techniques, while the term Classic Massage is hardly ever used. As a matter of fact, in the United States, it also known as Massage Therapy, is the most popular form of massage that people opt for.
While some sources credit Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish gymnastics instructor and fencing master, for founding the techniques of Swedish massage in 1812, other sources refute this assertion. This is because Swedish massage did not form a part of the curriculum of the Royal Central Gymnastic Institute that Henrik Ling founded nor was it in evidence in his Swedish Gymnastic Movements. It is thought that it was because Ling called his gymnastic movements 'Swedish Gymnastic Movements' that these were somehow misunderstood to be the Swedish Massage System.
In fact, according to researchers who have studied the origins of both gymnastics and massage, it was Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch, who lived between 1838-1909, who adopted the French names to describe the basic strokes, which he systemized into the system that is known today.
Swedish Massage Technique
In this massage, long and flowing strokes are used, which are designed to relax tense muscles, limber up joints, and improve circulation. There are five basic massaging strokes that are used in the traditional form:
Effleurage: This method involves using gliding strokes, especially on the limbs. The thumb pads and hands are used to apply pressure, which increases blood circulation. It is also used from the shoulders to the tips of the fingers, and neck to the spinal cord.
Petrissage: In this compression and kneading strokes are used, especially on the joints and bony structures. It helps to remove accumulated toxins in the bones and joints, which are the root cause of ailments.
Friction: This involves using the thumb pads and fingertips to apply deep circular pressure. This helps to relieve the knots that form in nerves and muscles, making them flexible and free.
Tapotement: In this method, the body is tapped in a rhythmic manner with the fingers, or the sides of the hands used to make rapid pounding movements.
Vibration: As is evident by the term, fine and quick vibrating movements are used in this.
The massage therapist, formerly known as masseur or masseuse, usually uses massage lotion or massage oil during the process. The client is usually covered with a sheet of cloth, and as the therapist systematically moves from one part of the body to another, the part of the body that is done is covered up.
When a full body massage is given, it usually starts on the back, and then moves down to the legs. Then the client will be asked to turn around and lie face up. Then the front of the arms, neck, abdomen and legs are massaged. A session usually lasts for 40-90 minutes.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
Swedish Massage improves the circulation resulting in encouraging nutrients and oxygen going to the various tissues of the body.
It helps to relieve pain and tension, increases mobility and flexibility, and gets rid of waste matter like accumulated lactic acid, thus reducing stiffness and pain in the joints and muscles.
Swedish Massage also relieves stress by helping the body to deal with stress by decreasing the levels of stress hormones like cortisol. It is also thought to boost the immune system.