How can Swedish massage nourish your soul?
Swedish massage is a type of massage that uses long, soft, kneading strokes applied to the superficial muscles, combined with rhythmic tapping and movement of the joints. This offers both a relaxing and energising massage experience.
Often confused with other massage techniques such as deep tissue, Swedish massage is unique in that it is applied to the topmost layer of the muscles. As such, it is a gentler massage therapy that is designed for relaxation and tension relief.
True to its name, Swedish massage was developed in Sweden in the 1830s by Pehr Hendrik Ling. This therapy has since become one of the most popular forms of massage today and is commonly used as a basis for classical Western massage.
It is important to choose a massage therapist who is registered with a professional association to ensure the highest standard of treatment. These include Massage & Myotherapy Australia, Massage Association of Australia and the Association of Massage Therapists. Members who are registered with these peak bodies are required to have appropriate qualifications, undertake continuous professional development and commit to upholding excellence in practice.
Benefits of Swedish massage
The purpose of Swedish massage is to enhance the general health and well-being of the individual. As such, it is proposed to offer numerous benefits for relaxation and pain relief, while simultaneously improving circulation and energising the body.
There is evidence from a literature review that Swedish massage may be effective in relieving chronic lower back pain. There were other reported benefits from this review, including improvements in physical disability and range of motion, as well as reduced anxiety and enhanced mood.
In addition to the physical benefits of Swedish massage, there are many suggested psychological benefits. It is proposed that some mental health conditions, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), may benefit from Swedish massage. This is further supported by an intervention study reporting Swedish massage may offer improvement for mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, in women with breast cancer.
Swedish massage may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Back pain
- Circulation and cardiovascular conditions
- Energy and vitality
- Mental health
- Mood imbalances
- Muscle spasm, tightness and cramps
- Pain relief
- Stress and tension
What to expect from a Swedish massage session
A traditional Swedish massage will involve a full-body treatment that can vary in length, depending on your personal preference.
Before your session begins, your therapist may discuss any areas of concern that you would like them to spend more time on. It is also important to mention your preferred level of pressure.
You will then be asked to lie on a massage table on either your back or your stomach. You will be requested to turn over at the halfway point. Your massage therapist will drape a towel or a sheet over your body, adjusting it as they work around the different parts of your body.
There are five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, that are typically used to manipulate the soft tissues. These include effleurage (long, gentle strokes across the skin), friction (short, fast strokes that create heat), petrissage (squeezing techniques), vibration (rapid, superficial movements of the fingers or palms), and tapotement (strikes or “karate chops”).
Keep in mind that it is always advisable to consult a qualified health professional before commencing any wellness journey. If you have an injury or an underlying health issue, speak to your massage therapist, who will be happy to address these concerns and personalise the therapy session to your individual requirements.