One swedish massage stroke.

One Swedish massage stroke.

Most people at one time or another hear the term Swedish Massage.  What exactly is it?  Where did it come from?  How does it work?  Why should we get Swedish Massage?  We will try to answer these questions in this post.  If you read this,

you will discover those answers. If after reading this post you have more questions please reply and we will try to give you the information you request.

In the early 19th century  Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) of Smaaland, Sweden developed a system called “Medical Gymnastics” which included movements performed by a therapist. These became the known as “Swedish movements” in Europe and “the Swedish Movement Cure” when they came to the U.S. in 1858. Today it is simply known as Swedish massage.

Most massage therapists doing Swedish Massage do not use medical gymnastics in their practice, but we do use five basic strokes;  effleurage, tapotement, petrissage, friction, and shaking or jostling.

Effleurage — smooth gliding strokes down the length of your muscles or entire sections of your body usually done with the palms, thumbs or fingertips, but can include forearms or loose or tight fists.  Being the most common stroke used in Swedish Massage, it is used to relax tight muscles and calm stress for the client.  Effleurage is also used by your therapist to learn the contours of your body to begin planning your treatment.

Tapotement — Rhythmic tapping performed with the edge of the hand, back of the hand, or palm.  It is used to release tight and cramped muscles and to relax any spasm by using a number of percussive movements. When used on the upper and middle back area it can loosen mucus and phlegm from the lungs and is effective for treating asthma and upper respiratory conditions.

Petrissage — Kneading strokes, much like kneading dough.  Petrissage is used to gently lift your muscles up and off the bones, and to help get rid of toxins and increase circulation to help release your knots.

Friction — Properly applied friction produces heat, stimulates nerves, and soothes sore muscles.  It is the use of very deeply penetrating circular or cross fibre motions that work to release the knot-like adhesions in muscles and around the joints. Friction is very useful in reducing scar tissue.

Vibration or Jostling or Shaking — The shaking or vibrating or jostling of a muscle is beneficial to help stimulate increased blood flow to a muscle thereby increasing oxygen which helps your muscles relax.

Your Swedish Massage may include all of these strokes or only a few of them depending on what your actual problem is.