What is a Swedish massage?
The Swedish massage is the western world standard: it is gentle, relaxing and can be provided to anyone. It is rooted in Western practices of anatomy and physiology. To perform this type of massage, trained therapists apply an arsenal of pressure styles that include stroking, kneading, striking, rubbing and vibration. They focus the pressure along the muscles.
According to Robert Noah Calvert, the author of The History of Massage, what we now call Swedish massage was never part of Ling’s movement system. Swedish massage as Calvert asserts, is defined by it’s system of stroking, kneading etc. These he credits to a Dutch practitioner Jonnan Georg Mezger of the late 19th century. As a result, what Americans know as Swedish massage is called “classic massage “ throughout most of Europe.
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5 steps of Swedish massage
The main 5 Swedish massage techniques as they were developed by Swedish doctor Peter Henrik Ling, a physical therapist, developer, and teacher of medical gymnastics are:
These are the sliding or gliding Swedish massage techniques that cover different areas of the body. They are long sweeping strokes that alternate between firm and light pressure and which can be performed using the palm of the hand or fingertips. The knots and tensions in the muscles tend to get broken.
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This is the technique of kneading the muscles of the body to attain deeper massage penetrations. The thumb and the knuckles of the fingers are used to knead and squeeze the muscles of the body.
Tapotememt or rhythmic tapping
The process of good rhythmic tapping on the muscles with the fists of the hands. This helps to loosen or relax the muscles and energize them.
This move seeks to create heat to relax and energize the muscles. The palms of the hand are rubbed together vigorously or they are rubbed onto the skin of the person to create heat by friction. This can also be used as a warm up technique.
Vibration or shaking
This technique uses a back and forth action of the fingertips or the heel of the hand over the skin. The muscles of the body are shaken to loosen up and relax.
Benefits of the Swedish Massage
Swedish massage comes with a variety of benefits or usefulness to the human body. Some of them include:
If one has a condition like sciatica or osteoarthritis and is suffering from chronic pain, Swedish massage can be very effective in a natural way. Targeting the main pain areas and applying a stroking motion can improve local circulation and reduce muscle tension.
Increased blood flow
The therapist should use a long stroking motion in the direction of blood flow or Effleurage in order to open up the blood vessels and increase blood flow. Increased blood flow will provide more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and remove toxins effectively.
A combination of Swedish massage and regular stretching can help anyone to stave off workout related stress.
These massages maximize relaxation. It lowers the stress hormone cortisol in the body. It has other benefits including reduced headache, better night’s sleep etc.
The lower cortisol levels allow the immune system to become stronger and thus one is less likely to become sick.
Rehabilitation for muscle injuries
The therapist should also rely on kneading and friction to cater to any existing injuries such as adhesions ( occurs when muscle tissues fuse together).
Better skin tone
Since Swedish massage promotes better circulation of blood, it makes the skin glow. It also helps to keep the surface of the skin smooth and soft and prevent it from premature ageing.