Swedish massage, as believed, was created by a Swedish physiologist named Henri Peter Ling, at the University of Stockholm in the year 1812. However, several resources have noted that it was actually the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger who adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes under which he systemized massage as we know it today as the classic or Swedish massage.
Whatever the recorded history of Swedish massage suggests, there is one main thing exclusive to this therapeutic technique – it is a bodywork that involves a variety of techniques specifically designed to relax the muscles by applying pressure to them against the deeper muscles and bones. This technique also involves rubbing in the same direction with the circulation towards the heart.
The Aim and Benefits of Swedish Massage
There is one particular purpose that the Swedish massage is strongly holding – to increase the flow of oxygen in the blood and release toxins that were trapped in the muscles. With this purpose alone, the Swedish massage highly works to shorten the recovery time from muscular strain. But, how can this technique do this? It simply flushes the tissues of lactic acid, uric acid, as well as other metabolic wastes in the body. It is through this action that Swedish massage is able to increase circulation without enhancing the heart load.
Also, the Swedish massage stretches the tendons and ligaments in the body, keeping them pliable and supple. It even stimulates the skin, including the nervous system, while at the same time soothing and calming the nerves themselves. With all these powers, Swedish massage is able to lower and prevent the onset of stress, both physical and emotional. It’s no wonder then that today this most well-known therapeutic practice is highly suggested in a regular program for stress management.
Swedish Massage Techniques
There are a number of techniques, or basically strokes, involved in the practice of Swedish massage. A good therapist knows these strokes for sure. Here are the commonly applied techniques applied to most any condition, injury or situation:
1. Effleurage – This technique is consists of long and gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and fingertips. It starts from the neck down to the base of the spine or from the shoulder down to the fingertips. All of the strokes involved here are directed toward the heart to assist the blood and lymphatic flow.
2. Petrissage – Characterized by kneading movements with the hands, thumbs, and fingers. It involves gently lifting of the muscles up and away from the bones, then rolling and squeezing them with a gentle pressure.
3. Friction – Circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs or fingers are the common indications of this technique.
4. Vibration – This involves strokes that shake or vibrate the body. The movements involve here are often called “oscillatory” movements.
5. Percussion – Often identified with tapping or brisk hacking.
6. Passive and Active Movements – Most of the movements involved in this Swedish massage technique are bending and stretching.
Swedish massage is now known throughout the world as the most commonly offered and best known type of massage. It even serves as the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports, deep tissue and aromatherapy.