What is Swedish Massage?

woman getting a Swedish massage

What is Swedish Massage?    

Why is it Swedish?   How can it help me?   What happens during a massage?

These are the most frequently asked questions that I get in my work. Hopefully this article will shed a little light on the matter.

Firstly, let's deal with the 'why Swedish' bit first. Massage has been around as long as humankind has existed and most cultures have their own variation and systems of massage - for example traditional Thai massage, or Ayurvedic massage in India. In the 19th century Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish physiologist developed a system of massage movements that worked alongside his therapeutic exercise programme, known as 'Swedish Remedial Gymnastics.'. Ling coined the terms, effleurage and petrissage; which are still used today.

This brings me back to the first question, what is Swedish Massage?

Swedish Massage, is also sometimes called 'body massage,' and is what we think of as traditional massage in the West. It is a system of movements that can be broken down into different variations, or strokes.  The first is the long sweeping movement known as 'effleurage'; second is the kneading and wringing movements, called 'petrissage;' third is the percussion and vibration performed using the hand chopping move (hacking).  You also have pummelling and friction techniques as well.

When learning how to Swedish Massage, the therapist is taught a routine to follow, which might vary slightly depending on the examining body that they are studying under and the individual preferences of the teacher. Once qualified, a good therapist will continue to study more advanced techniques. The Swedish Massage can be adapted to each client's requirements; for example there is no point in massaging a client's arms and legs, if the main problem is the client's back! In fact, I often tell my clients they should not expect the same Swedish Massage from me twice, as I will always adapt it to suit their current problem.

Next we'll look at how massage can help.

On of the greatest benefits of Swedish Massage is its ability to relax the client. The long sweeping effleurage strokes produce a sedative effect, which can promote relaxation. But Swedish massage can also be used to work more deeply on tight muscles, for example those areas of tension in the upper back and shoulders. Swedish Massage also encourages the body's lymphatic system to work, a well functioning lymphatic system is key to the removal of waste and and toxins from the system. It can also increase blood flow to the skin. In short, a massage can be adapted to each person's individual requirements.

Massage, modesty and what happens during an appointment

If you've never had a massage treatment before, it can be daunting - at some point you are going to have to expose parts of your body to a stranger. I can assure you that we really don't care if you have cellulite, or haven't had time to shave your legs - as long as you've had a shower that day that's all we ask! We will always preserve your modesty and are excellent at towel positioning.

The first thing that will happen though, before we ask you to undress, is the consultation. This is essential, not only to establish what you want out of the Swedish Massage, but to ensure that you are not suffering any medical condition that might preclude continuing. After the consultation, the therapist will explain what they intend to do, and also the position they would like you lie in on the couch (I nearly always start a full body massage with the client lying face up and leave the back until last). The therapist will then leave the room allowing you to undress and get comfy on the bed with a towel covering you.

Once you are ready, the therapist will knock on the door to check that you are okay, they may also adjust the towel to ensure that you are appropriately covered and offer extra towels or a blanket to keep you warm. During the Swedish Massage the therapist will check that the pressure they are using is not too light or too firm - please say if you want a firmer pressure, or if it is painful and also if you are too cold or too warm. We really don't mind.

After the Swedish Massage has been completed the therapist will leave you to get up and get dressed. Do this slowly - your blood pressure may have changed and you may feel a little light-headed. You will be offered a drink of water and will be advised to drink plenty more for the rest of the day, it can also be good to avoid caffeine and alcohol. 

I offer my clients a range of different appointments. You can have a 30 minute back, neck and shoulder massage. A 60 minute full body massage that covers the back, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, hands and feet. Or I also offer a 75 minute massage that covers the full body plus the scalp and face. Not only that I am always happy to have a chat on the phone about your requirements beforehand, and may suggest a combination of Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage and/or Bellabaci Cupping. My prices are always on my pages on the website, and if you follow our Facebook page you can find details of any monthly offers.


Author: Carolyn Coombs


Call us now on 01722 340364 to book an appointment, or for a free no obligation chat.  Or alternatively email us at enquiries@therapy-centre.co.uk. For certain therapies you can now also book online.