There are many different kinds of massages that help a person relax and refresh. Swedish massage is the most commonly offered and best-known type of massage. It uses firm but gentle pressure with the help of massage oil to relax and smooth out the muscles thus reducing tension. If a person likes to get a massage for the first time, then Swedish massage is the ideal place to begin with. The term "Swedish Massage" refers to different techniques particularly designed to relax muscles by applying pressure against deeper muscles and bones, and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. The great benefits of Swedish massage include increased relaxation, greater mobility of joints, decreased muscle tightness, and improved circulation. It is very important for a person to inform about his/her medical conditions to the therapist in any type of massage.
What is the History of Swedish massage?
The discovery of Swedish massage is accredited to Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839), a famous Swedish physician and gymnastic teacher. In his youth, Ling was inspired and influenced by a Chinese friend and colleague now known only as Mr. Ming. Ming was a practitioner of the Chinese medical system “Tui Na”, a 'hands on therapy' included essential components of massage. Ling combined Chinese gymnastic and medical techniques with early 19th century sports medicine to produce a system for relieving sore muscles, increasing flexibility and support common health. Ling’s theories became well-known by his colleague Johann Mezger, a Swedish physician, who assisted in spreading Ling’s methods of treatment among the people by offering them French names. During the 19th century, the medical 'Swedish Movement' established by Ling became famous throughout European and American Spa culture. A number of massages performed at present in the Western countries are based on Ling’s unique work.
What is the purpose of Swedish massage?
The primary intention of Swedish massage is to augment the oxygen flow in the blood and discharge toxins from the muscles.
Swedish massage cut down the recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, and other metabolic wastes.
It augments circulation without increasing strain to the heart.
It stretches the ligaments and tendons keeping them flexible and supple.
Swedish massage also induces the skin and nervous system and calms the nerves all at once.
It decreases both emotional and physical stress.
It is also recommended as a regular program for stress management.
It also has many specific medical benefits.
What are the basic strokes or techniques practiced in Swedish massage?
The Swedish massage therapist will pour oil on the person’s back. Then, slowly and gently the body is kneaded. The oil helps to work out the kinks and release tension. After the oil is poured the therapist will perform a special Swedish massage technique. The basic strokes or techniques practiced in Swedish massage are known by their stylish 19th century French names:
Effleurage: The massage therapist applies massage oil to the client’s skin to perform various massage strokes, including the smooth, gliding strokes called effleurage. This technique is carried out to stroke the tension out of the body. In this method, the toes are clasped with one hand and the ankles are given support by the other hand. The foot is made to spin along with flexing the toes backward and forward. Together with thumbs, palms and fingertips are primarily used for this technique for deeper penetration. For the chest area during effleurage the hands are placed by the side, below the collar bone with stroking down the chest area. The areas behind the shoulders and the neck at the base part of the skull are also stroked.
Friction: Vigorous rubbing of the therapist’s palms against the skin warms and relaxes before offering profound treatment. Circular pressure with the thumbs is applied on the muscles which are located between the ribs.
Petrissage: Gentle pressing and kneading of muscles that warms and loosens the muscles in order to accomplish a deep relaxation. Different aching and painful muscles are lifted and grabbed gently. During petrissage, the chest is kneaded gently and rhythmically, with fingers and thumbs. Tendons and connective tissues are made much more flexible and conducive for appropriate blood flow.
Tapottement: Stimulating tapping and chopping of a specific area with the side of the hand or fists.
Vibration: Rapid friction movement with the palm or side of the hand, occasionally with fingers, to loosen up and warm a particular area being treated. The palm is placed on top of the other, right below the ribcage on the left side of the abdomen part. A shaky movement or vibration is made when the upper forearm is contracted. At a slow pace the hands are pulled towards the pelvis and procedure is performed clockwise.
Traction: Physical treatment of limbs and at times the neck and head by pulling is always performed after the muscles are warmed and stress-free.
Neuromuscular massage technique: Neuromuscular massage involves slow stroking and direct pressure on the tissues which travel around the grain of the painful muscles. This massage technique is used to heal the muscles in a person. This method comes under the group of deep tissue massage. By performing this technique, blood flow in an individual’s body is improved. Regular Swedish massage offers a complete renovation of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. Stress can be totally removed with the help of Swedish massage.