The most widely recognized and commonly used category of massage is the Swedish massage. Swedish massage is the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports massage, deep tissue massage and aromatherapy massage.
It is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, as opposed to energy work on “meridiens” or sen lines in Asian massage systems. Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839), who pioneered the teaching of physical education in Sweden, is often mistakenly credited with the title of the father of Swedish massage. However, that title actually belongs to the Dutch practitioner, Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909).The term “Swedish” massage is actually only recognized in English and Dutch speaking countries, and in Hungary. Elsewhere the style is referred to as “Classic Massage”.
Swedish massage is a basic massage that is perfect for beginners or people who are concerned a massage will hurt. Massage is beneficial to all body systems and is a natural and effective way to treat physical and psychological conditions.
One of the primary goals of a Swedish massage is to relax the body, but it also provide you with many other benefits, including the following:
- oxygenates the blood
- helps the lymph system remove toxins
- improves circulation and more efficient supply of oxygen and nutrients
- increases muscle range and flexibility and relieves muscle fatigue, soreness and stiffness
- Improves skin tone and colour
- Boosts immune system
- Helps with deeper and more efficient breathing
- Sedates or stimulates the nervous system, depending on the type of massage strokes
- Relieves insomnia
- Balances the digestive system
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Reduces tension and the effects of stress and anxiety
- Increases energy by invigorating all the body systems
Also, clinical studies report that Swedish Massage can effectively reduce low back pain. A study conducted by the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases 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 Swedish massage techniques vary from light to vigorous. Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), taponement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking.
A Swedish massage can be slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, depending on what you want to achieve from the massage.
If you have tighter areas where you want more focused attention, you can certainly ask for this in the context of a Swedish massage.