- Karen Stoner, LMT
What is a Swedish Massage?
When scheduling a massage appointment, you may see a lot of different terms for a lot of different different types, or modalities, of massage. One of the most common types of massage offered is "Swedish Massage". So what exactly is it, and why is it so common? Swedish massage is a form of massage therapy that is widely practiced and taught in North America. It is based on anatomy and physiology, and it mainly can be identified by the use of certain massage strokes such as long gliding movements, kneading, and percussive techniques. Especially in North America, it is often the most common massage modality taught in massage schools and is often referred to as the "classic" massage technique. The of long, flowing strokes, usually always moving towards the heart helps relax and manipulate the soft tissues of the body. These strokes are typically applied with light to medium pressure, and they are the basis for many other massage modalities.
Each of the different strokes used in Swedish massage have a different purpose. The long gliding strokes help to increase circulation and soften tight muscles, promoting relaxation. The kneading or circular friction strokes break up areas of tightness or spots where scar tissue or other issues may be causing pain. The percussive strokes such as tapping or chopping helps break up tightness as well as loosening up very tight areas. All of these techniques put together allows Swedish massage to relax the entire body through the reduction of muscle tension, improving circulation, and stimulating the nervous system. When the muscles relax and the nervous system is calm, the body better is able to release good hormones that can counteract the hormones int he body that are activated when the body is stressed or in pain, helping the body feel calmer and healthier overall.
Swedish massage is excellent for addressing specific areas of tension or pain. For example, it can be used to target areas of chronic pain or tension, such as the neck and shoulders. Through the increased circulation, it can also help to reduce inflammation and improve range of motion or flexibility in joints. This type of massage can also be gentle and calm enough to be used for maintenance in that it helps muscles not only recover from injuries, but if done frequently enough, can often help prevent injuries or other chronic issues such as tight shoulders or back from sitting at a desk all day. Additionally, it is also a great way to help reduce stress and improve overall relaxation.
Like all forms of massage, it is generally good for anyone, however there are a few issues, or contraindications, that may make massage not recommended. Some massage contraindications include broken bones, infections, open wounds or sores on the skin, or certain medical conditions such as heart failure or blood clots,. As with any type of therapy, if there is a question about a medical condition and if massage is advised or not, one should consult both their doctor and ask their Massage Therapist questions. Overall, Swedish massage is a simple and effective form of massage therapy that can help to reduce stress, improve circulation, and promote overall wellness. It is a great form of massage for those who are just starting to learn about the benefits of massage, to those who have been using massage's benefits for a long time.