You probably remember the childhood story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears". Goldilocks walks into the Three Bears' house, where she discovers a trio of chairs.
One chair is "too hard" for her taste, one is "too soft", and the last one is "just right". That "just right" chair – believe it or not -- is a lot like Swedish Massage.
Swedish Massage Therapy, also called classic massage is probably the most common, best-known type of massage in the USA and the rest of the western world – and with good reason.
If you are looking for a basic massage that will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the world, Swedish is the way to go.
It has been proven to ease pain and joint stiffness and is helpful to patients with osteoarthritis in the knee. It can also improve circulation.
Swedish massage techniques uses long, smooth, gliding strokes that are neither too hard nor too soft, but "just right" for anyone looking for a basic massage that releases tension, improves relaxation and just feels all-out wonderful.
Swedish massage therapists traditionally use an oil or lotion to ensure their hands glide smoothly over your skin.
Other techniques used during the massage include kneading of individual muscles to ease tight spots, the use of friction or rubbing, tapping on certain muscles to release tension, and vibration.
While Swedish Massage Therapy is hardly the oldest type of massage available, it is among the oldest Western forms of massage, having been around for almost two centuries.
Most massage historians believe it was developed back in 1812 in Sweden (as the name suggests), at the University of Stockholm in 1812, by a physiologist named Henri Peter Ling.
However, others disagree, claiming that this particular form of massage was not actually a component of the "Swedish Gymnastic Movements" that Ling developed, or part of the curriculum at Ling's Royal Central Gymnastic Institute.
They instead believe that Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch practitioner, actually created the technique later in the 19th Century.
He is credited with adopted the French names for the basic strokes -- effleurage for stroking, petrissage for kneading, tapotement for tapping and frictions for rubbing.
Whoever actually created Swedish Massage Therapy, it steadily increased in popularity throughout the 19th century as people sought new and innovative treatments for the aches and pains of everyday life.
By the year 1890, several physicians and other experts (and some so-called experts) had published books detailing the basic Swedish massage therapy techniques developed earlier in the century.
Those techniques were frequently used in many famous sanitariums, including the famous institute run by breakfast cereal magnate John Harvey Kellogg, M.D.
This method of massage has remained the western standard into modern times, and has continued to be a staple on spa menus throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.
Perhaps this is because the gentle rubbing, stroking, kneading and tapping motions are the foundation of so many other, more modern forms of massage that are used today including deep tissue massage, aromatherapy massage and sports massage.
The techniques are basic, but two centuries of history don't lie -- they definitely work wonders!
After arriving for your massage, your therapist will take you to a private room. The temperature will be comfortable so you will be able to undress and cover yourself with just a sheet and not feel chilled.
In fact, Swedish Massage Therapy is where the technique of "draping" the client with sheet actually began.
You will lie on a massage table, either face down or face up, with your head placed on a special pillow. The massage therapist will warm some oil in his or her hands, and begin the massage.
It will begin with a gentle stroking motion, and progress to include kneading and rubbing of tight muscles, and tapping on some muscles to release tension.
Remember it is perfectly okay – and encouraged – to tell your therapist if anything feels uncomfortable to you.
If the pressure is too strong, it can be eased up – and if you want a little more pressure, feel free to ask for that too!
Your session should end with all the muscles in your body feeling relaxed and stress free. You will then have a few minutes to get dressed and collect yourself before leaving the treatment room.
"On the day of the surgery, (Swedish) massage was significantly more effective than usual care for affective and sensory pain. On the second day after surgery, massage was significantly more effective than usual care for distress. Vibration was found to be significantly more effective than usual care for sensory pain and distress."
University of Virginia Health System’s Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, Cancer Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Department of Health Evaluation Sciences. Authors: Ann Gill Taylor, R.N.; Daniel L. Galper, Ph.D.; Peyton Taylor, M.D.; Laurel W. Rice, M.D.; Willie Andersen, M.D.; William Irvin, M.D.; Xin-Qun Wang; and Frank E. Harrell, Jr., Ph.D. Originally published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2003, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 77-89.
"(Swedish) Massage alleviates anxiety, depression, eating disorder symptoms, poor body image and biochemical abnormalities for women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa."
The Touch Research Institute. Authors: Sybil Hart, Ph.D.; Tiffany Field, Ph.D.; Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D.; Graciela Nearing, Psy.D.; Seana Shaw, M.D.; Saul Schanberg, M.D., Ph.D.; Cynthia Kuhn, Ph.D. Originally published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 2001, Vol. 9, pp. 217-228.
For a limited time, you can get a 10% Massage Coupon.
To learn more about Swedish Massage Therapy, check out one of these books.