Swedish Massage Is Not Swedish

So you’ve heard of Swedish Massage, but what does that mean – is it a type of massage that originated in Sweden? Have you ever enjoyed the benefits of one, and know what the techniques are used for? Let’s explore this wonderful healing modality and how it can be customized to a body’s specific needs, while on the road to relaxation for the entire mind, body and spirit.

Where did it Originate?

Swedish Massage was not created by a Swede, nor did it originate in Sweden. In fact, in Sweden, there is no such thing as “Swedish massage;” instead, massage is referred to as “classic massage.” In the U.S. however, the term “classic massage” is used very little, while “Swedish Massage” is considered the ‘classic’ and most basic of all massage methods.

According to massagemag.com: “Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909) is generally recognized (by physicians such as Emil Kleen and Richard Hael, who studied the origins of massage and gymnastics) as the man who chose the French names to indicate the basic strokes under which he systemized massage as we know it today, as Swedish or classic massage. Anyhow, the term Swedish Movement System was changed to Swedish Massage System sometime during the second half of the 19th century. Ling’s system was the Swedish Movement System or Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. This may be how he has become wrongly associated for so long with Swedish massage. When the first books were written about Ling’s Swedish Gymnastic System, the writers used the French words so prevalent since Mezger’s use of them. Later writers evidently attributed the French terms to Ling because of this.”

What is Swedish Massage?

This is achieved by massaging the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage treatment goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is especially beneficial for raising the level of oxygen in the blood, lowering muscle toxins, increasing circulation and flexibility while reducing tension.

What is a typical Massage Therapy session like?

A typical session is between 40 and 90 minutes. Your massage will begin with a brief discussion and review of symptoms, medical history and lifestyle. You will be required to undress (many people keep their underwear on) while therapist is out of the room, and rest face down under a sheet on a padded massage table.

Key principles:
A sequence of Swedish massage usually starts with stroking, followed by kneading, friction, vibrations, percussion, stroking again, and then passive movements. It traditionally takes place on a massage chair, since it is essential for the masseur to keep a straight back. The massage usually begins on the legs and feet, followed by the hands and arms, then the abdomen and chest, and finally the back.

Techniques include: long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, effleurage, and shaking motions. The usually sequence of techniques are:

Effleurage: Gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
Petrissage: Kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
Friction: Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
Vibration: Oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body
Percussion: Brisk hacking or tapping
Passive and active movements: Bending and stretching

Tools for the massage:

Create an environment for the recipient to be comfortable. Since clothing for this massage is optional, be sure the room is slightly warmer than normal.

– A massage table
– Towel
– Blanket and/or sheets
– Lotion or oil – Choose a lotion or oil that enables your hands to reduce friction across the skin.
– Candles or incense
– Soft Music

A study led by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and printed in The New York Times, saw that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage felt notable decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to rises in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.

The overall, common benefits of a Swedish Massage are that it feels good, it’s relaxing and very invigorating! Learn how to give relaxing, professional Swedish Massage yourself, at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, Arizona. This gives the body-worker a framework onto which he/she can add many other modalities or use as a complete massage in itself.

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