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Swedish Body Massage
FULL BODY MASSAGE
BACK AND NECK
BACK AND NECK
FACE NECK & SCALP
LEG & FOOT MASSAGE
HEAD & FACE MASSAGE
ARM & HAND MASSAGE
The Swedish Massage: Full Body Therapy
Benefits, Techniques, and History of This Western Style of
Based on the Western concepts of anatomy and
physiology—as opposed to energy work on "meridians"
or sen lines that are the focus in Asian massage
systems—therapists utilize this type of massage to
stimulate circulation, flush the circulatory system,
release tight muscles, restore range of motion, and
to relieve pain.
If it's your first
time at the spa or you don't get a massage
often, a Swedish massage is a good fit for
beginners. Most people get a 50- or 60-minute
Swedish or deep tissue massage, but 75 or 90 minutes
will give the therapist more time to work the muscle
tissue and achieve results. A Swedish massage can be
slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, depending
on the therapist's personal style and what he or she
is trying to achieve.
If you want deeper work and can tolerate more
pressure to get relief from chronic muscle pain,
it's better to book a deep tissue massage, which is
another form of Swedish massage. If you have pain,
it will likely take a series of massages to get
results. Swedish massage and other types of therapeutic
massage are performed by trained, licensed
What Happens During a Swedish Massage
In all Swedish massage, the therapist lubricates the
skin with massage
oil and performs various massage
strokes, including the basic techniques for a
traditional Swedish massage: effleurage, petrissage,
friction, tapotement, vibration/nerve strokes, and
These movements warm up the muscle tissue, releasing
tension and gradually breaking up muscle "knots" or
adhered tissues, called adhesions. Swedish massage
promotes relaxation, among other health
benefits, but before the massage, the therapist
should ask you about any injuries or other
conditions that he or she should know about.
Watch Now: What Happens During a Swedish Massage?
Things you would want tell a therapist include areas
of tightness or pain, allergies, and conditions like
pregnancy. You can also tell them upfront if you
have a preference for light or firm pressure.
After the consultation, the therapist instructs you
how to lie on the table—face up or face down and
underneath the sheet or towel or not—and then leaves
the room. He will knock or ask if you are ready
The Benefits of Getting a Swedish Massage
Even going to the massage therapist and getting a
Swedish massage once will calm your nervous system
and promote a sense of relaxation and well being,
reducing anxiety and tension in the body, which has
been known to help relieve depression.
Swedish massages improve blood circulation, which
helps you feel more energetic by increasing the flow
of nutrient-rich oxygen to the muscles in your body.
Additionally, it stimulates the lymphatic system,
which carries the body's waste products, meaning
you'll process the good and the bad much quicker.
If you're experiencing muscle cramps and spasms, a
Swedish massage with a focus on your problem areas
can help relieve this pain. Massage therapy can also
help with managing the pain from conditions such as
arthritis and sciatica.
Massage is not a good idea if you have a fever,
infections, inflammation, osteoporosis, and other
medical conditions—at least not without consulting
your doctor first—and it's best not to get a massage
if you are ill. If you have any doubts about whether
or not a massage would be right for you, speak to a
medical professional before booking a Swedish
The Nudity Factor
During a Swedish massage, you are generally nude underneath
a towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the
part of the body being worked on, a technique
If the nudity gets you out of your comfort zone, you
can keep your underwear on, and many newcomers do.
You usually start by laying face down with your head
in a u-shaped face cradle so your spine stays
neutral. The therapist generally starts by working
your back, using various massage
strokes that include effleurage,
kneading, friction, stretching, and tapping.
When she's finished with the back, she works the
back of each leg. When done with the back side, she
holds the sheet or towel up and looks away while you
turn over and scoot down, covers you again, and then
massages the front of each leg, both arms, and then
your neck and shoulders.
Some therapists work in a different order, and all
have their own style and techniques. If you only
have 50 minutes, you can also ask them to spend more
time on a certain area. If the pressure is too light
or too firm, you should speak up and ask the
therapist to adjust it. If you want deeper work and
can tolerate more pressure to get relief from
chronic muscle pain, it's better to book a deep
tissue massage, which is another form of Swedish
Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of
anatomy and physiology as opposed to energy work
that is more common in Asian-style massage. Dutch
practitioner Johan Georg Mezger (1838 - 1909) is
credited as the man who adopted the French names to
denote the basic strokes under which he systemized
massage as we know it today.
In the early 19th century the Swedish physiologist,
Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) at the University of
Stockholm, 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.
According to Robert Noah Calvert, author of "The
History of Massage," Mezger's system became confused
with Ling's system, and because he came earlier,
Ling received credit for the "Swedish Massage
System." Today it is known as Swedish massage in
America, and "classic massage" in Sweden!
How Swedish Massage Went "Light"
Swedish massage evolved in the first half of the
20th century to become a whole system of
physiotherapy, including soft tissue manipulation,
movements, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy by the
1930s, according to Patricia Benjamin, another
massage historian. It fell out of favor as modern
medicine, hospitals and medications moved to the
forefront of our culture's thinking about health. At
the same time "massage parlors" that were fronts for
prostitution gave genuine practitioners an image
Benjamin says that interest in massage was revived
in the 1970s as part of the counter-culture
movement. The Esalen Institute in California
developed the "Esalen massage," often given by
candlelight, with long flowing effleurage performed
lightly. It was not necessarily intended for
professionals, but to nurture the giving and
receiving of touch.
This method influenced Swedish massage, moving it
toward a lighter relaxation massage. If you really
want results, the thinking goes, you should book a
deep tissue massage. Swedish and
deep tissue massages are the most commonly requested
type of massage at spas today. Before and during
your Swedish massage session, communicate with your
therapist so that your massage is customized to your
Difference Between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massages
While the most commonly requested massage is the
Swedish variety, deep tissue massages are best for
small muscle injuries and chronic muscle problems,
but that's not the only way these two versions of
massage are different.
Deep tissue massage, as the name would imply,
focuses on deeper tissue structures of muscles, and
massage therapists apply deep tissue massage will
apply a strong, constant pressure against the muscle
until it pushes back and relaxes, providing relief
to deep areas of tension in specific muscles.
Deep tissue massages are better than Swedish
massages for treating sports injuries, soreness from
poor posture (sitting at a desk all day), and
chronic spasms, but Swedish massages are often more
comprehensive and relaxing than deep tissue massages