Often mistakenly credited to Per Henrik Ling, Swedish massage was invented by Dutch doctor Johann Georg Mezger. Using French "friction methods" on patients with minor sprains he developed a system of five therapeutic techniques for treating patients.
What is a Sweish massage?
Swedish massage can be broken down into five different techniques:
Effleurage - The French word that means "touch lightly on" is form of massage that used in the beginning of the Swedish massage, like a warm-up. It can also be used towards the end of the massage as a cool down. If the client had a bad experience with a massage that was to deep and left them feeling very sore in the days that followed then Effleurage is a very good option to make the client feel comfortable if they massage again.
Petrissage - The French word for "Knead". This type of massage is similar in style to the way a baker kneads dough. The therapist uses fingers and palms to push, pull, and squeeze soft tissue. The therapist can also softly push the skin away from the muscles and roll it in different directions. Depending on the client Petrissage can be light or deep, it can even be used as a warm up for deep tissue massage.
Friction - Applies force across soft tissue structures. This means the therapist will use their thumbs and fingers to apply pressure transversely or perpendicular to muscle fibers. Using deep circular movements this can help break down scar tissue
Tapotement - Taken from the French word "Tapoter" meaning "to tap or to drum" this style involves rhythmic tapping or patting of the soft tissue structures. There are five types of Tapotement: beating, slapping, hacking, tapping, and cupping.
Vibration - This technique is a fine or gentle trembling movement using the hands or fingers. It is used to stimulate nerves, relieve muscular tension, and decrease stress.
What are the benefits of Swedish massage?
There are many benefits to Swedish massage. Below are just a few examples:
Improved blood circulation
Increased range of motion
Faster recovery from injury
May relieve headaches
Should you get a Swedish massage?
If you are someone that is interested in getting a massage for the first time, Swedish massage is a great starting point. If you are someone that had a bad experience with a previous massage with to much pressure or to much stretching, Swedish would be a good option for you. If you are recovering from an injury, a Swedish massage may help shorten recovery time. If you are just looking to relax and lose some stress than a Swedish massage would be a good option.
To learn more about the difference between Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage, click here.