swedish massage

What is Swedish massage and why is it so popular?

Did you know Swedish massage is the most sought-after form of massage therapy in Canada? And it’s no wonder—the main goals of this treatment are to help people relax, refresh and energize their bodies. Swedish massage involves the use of a massage therapist’s hands, forearms and elbows to manipulate the superficial layers of muscles, improving both mental and physical health. Your therapist may also use forms of active or passive movement of the joints to increase circulation and assess mobility. At Massago, it’s one of our most recommended treatments for clients in need of ultimate relaxation for both mind and body! If you haven’t had a massage treatment in a while or are someone who has not yet experienced this form of relaxation, a Swedish massage with one of our Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) should be the next thing you schedule into your day.

The origins of Swedish massage

Swedish massage was, as you may have guessed, devised in Sweden by fencing instructor Per Henrik Ling in the 1830s. As with many repetitive-motion sports, it’s likely Ling developed elbow injuries from the consistent joint movement while fencing. Well, he didn’t let that get him down! It’s reported that he cured his pain using percussion strokes around the affected area, which eventually led to different forms of strokes later adopted as Swedish massage.

So, what does Swedish massage look like today?

Before starting your treatment, your therapist will go over your health history and any assessments needed. Communication is one of the most important details before, during and after your massage as your therapist will determine whether the benefits of massage outweigh any risks to your current physical health. You’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions and go over any preferences you may have, such as the amount of pressure or areas of the body you’d like to include or exclude during the treatment. Once the massage begins, your therapist will likely use long, flowing strokes, as well as kneading, tapping and other rhythmic techniques, with the goal of relieving muscle tension. swedish massage

Swedish massage techniques

There are five techniques involved in a Swedish massage:
  1. Effleurage
Effleurage is a smooth, flowing stroke, sometimes used as a transition technique, used effectively by moving toward the heart, stimulating blood flow. A massage therapist usually uses effleurage with the intent of soothing the circulatory and parasympathetic systems as they get a sense for your body’s tissue. The therapist performs this stroke with their hands and forearms, and it’s generally used to apply massage oil or lotion. Some therapists use a lot of oil or lotion and others use it sparingly. Either way, they never want to run the risk of pulling on a client’s skin or hair (if present) in a way that is uncomfortable.
  1. Petrissage
Once the therapist has a general idea of the state of your connective tissue using effleurage, they’ll routinely shift their techniques to include petrissage. The term petrissage is French, originating from the word ‘pétrir’ (to knead). It’s generally a deeper technique than effleurage on soft tissue and includes kneading, squeezing, lifting, shaking, wringing and rolling. These varied techniques prompt an increase in circulation, which can help relieve pain and leave you feeling rejuvenated. If you’re suffering from an injured muscle, this technique helps to provide healing effects to those areas.
  1. Tapotement
After effleurage and petrissage, your RMT may find that you’re a good candidate for tapotement, which is a stimulating rhythmic drumming, tapping or cupping of the connective tissue. Although this may seem like the opposite of a relaxing treatment, it can be quite relaxing, depending on the length of time it is applied. Tapotement administered for a short duration is rather stimulating, while a longer session can produce fatigue in a muscle or group of muscles. This can end up feeling very relaxing, softening the tissue enough to make it more malleable and workable for the therapist. Hacking is also a type of tapotement, which is frequently applied to athletes before sporting events to increase circulation to their arms and legs.
  1. Friction
Friction massage is normally done using the ball of the thumb or a pointed object. Using small, circular or cross-fiber movements—and deep pressure to penetrate deeper connective tissues—this technique involves pressing on the tissue and rubbing it back and forth over the underlying muscle, softening and often helping to realign muscles that have been injured. It is especially effective at remodelling scar tissue and softening adhesions.
  1. Vibration
Vibration techniques are used in an “up and down” motion, often taking the form of a fine trembling movement applied using the palm of the hand or the fingertips of one or both hands. It mainly affects superficial body parts as well as deeper internal organs, and is an effective way to stimulate deeper tissues and organs. Therapists often use this technique during a lymphatic drainage treatment, where lighter pressure is needed to stimulate lymph node sites to move interstitial fluid from an injured or swollen site of the body. Other benefits include improved nerve function and muscle relaxation. As you can see, not every massage has to include deep massage, where you feel the effects immediately and more prominently—treatments with less pressure are just as effective.

Benefits of Swedish massage

The benefits of Swedish massage include increased blood circulation, decreased stress and muscle tension, and improved range of motion. It also promotes mental and emotional health, which includes relaxation, quality of sleep, stress relief, decrease in depression/anxiety/irritation and an overall sense of well-being.

How to book a Swedish massage

If you’re interested in a Swedish massage, we make it easy to book an appointment with one of our RMTs. Simply enter your address into our booking platform and your massage will come to you! If you have questions, one of our team members is happy to help