Swedish Massage: History, Techniques, Benefits
This is my first post after intro, and I chose Swedish Massage because it’s smooth and relaxing, that’s how I want all of you to feel while reading my blog! 🙂 So I decided it’d be a good starter! Main dishes are coming soon. Be healthy, happy and relaxed! 😉
Swedish Massage Techniques
- Effleurage – applied horizontally to tissue, hands mold to body part being massaged. It is a long gliding stroke with somewhat superficial pressure, can be slow – soothing, and faster – stimulating. Some benefits of effleurage: Strokes toward heart return venous blood flow and lymphatics. It gives continuity to the massage session, enables client and therapist to become accustomed to each other – great beginning strokes. Avoid open areas such as burns and wounds, varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (clots), gross edema (swelling) if danger of splitting the skin, also avoid very hairy areas – could be painful – use more oil/lotion.
- Petrissage – kneading movement performed with whole palm or finger tips. Wringing, kneading, skin rolling, and especially compression and lift. The action is applied vertically to the muscle (across muscle fibers). Benefits of Petrissage: warms up tissue for deeper work, increases circulation and supply of nutrients and oxygen to muscle, softens superficial fascia, decreases muscle tension and restores mobility by decreasing adhesions. Avoid acute muscle tears, inflamed joints, skin diseases (dermatitis, psoriasis, etc.), damaged blood vessels and bacterial infections, and ANY inflammation.
- Friction – therapist uses fingers, thumbs, palms or soft fist. Direction of strokes usually crosses the fiber direction. Sinking in and moving deeper tissue. Benefits: Can be used as an assessment tool, prevents and breaks up local adhesions and scar tissue, stimulates local circulation, increasing nutrients and oxygen delivery to tissue, carries away metabolic waste, hydrates all tissues, including connective tissue (fascia).
- Vibration – this stroke begins by sinking into tissue, therapist’s hands or fingertips tremble, it can be a fatiguing Swedish stroke. Benefits: stimulates nerve activity, adds variety to work, sedates when done vigorously, can even stimulate internal organs when done over that area. Contraindications: abuse survivors, high blood pressure, spasticity – may cause muscle cramps/spasms.
- Tapotement – Tapping: done lightly with fingertips. Hacking: using ulnar side of hand, fingers extended. Soft fist beating: with ulnar area. Cupping: cup hands (loosens mucous). Pincement: lightly plucking with fingertips. Benefits: stimulates nervous system, tones muscles, softens tissue, increases blood flow to area. NO tapotement for abuse survivors and cancer patients.
History of Swedish Massage
Modern U.S. massage began to develop in Europe in the 19th century. A Swedish physiologist and gymnastics instructor, named Pehr Henrik Ling, developed and promoted his own system of massage thus being Swedish massage. He primarily classified the massage techniques used by Greeks and Romans in ancient times. Ling’s system, which he called Medical Gymnastics, became more commonly known as Swedish massage.
In the United States, Pehr Ling is also considered the “father of physical therapy”. Massage only constituted approximately 10% of the techniques used by Ling when providing treatments. Ironically, I have met massage therapists native to Sweden, that trained in Sweden, and never heard of Pehr Ling.
Later, a Dutch physician, named Johann Mezger, promoted Swedish massage using a medical model. Most credited Mezger with introducing and popularizing the use of French terminology to describe the system. Swedish massage represents one form of Western methods of massage.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
- massage relaxes muscle spasm and relieves tension
- improves muscle tone
- returns blood flow to the heart
- helps prevent or delay muscle atrophy resulting from forced inactivity
- stimulates lymphatic circulation, hastening the elimination of wastes and toxic debris
- may help the movement of material in the intestines, therefore reducing constipation
- stretches fascia, increases ROM (Range of Motion)
- prevents the formation of adhesions
- helps decrease inflammation, swelling in joints, edema
- alleviates pain
- facilitates movement during injury rehabilitation
- helps reduce insomnia
- increases overall well-being
This is just a beginning of OUR journey to YOUR better health and living with no stress, pain and tension! Knowledge of holistic medicine is powerful and does magic!!!