ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Holistic Health: The Basics of Swedish Massage

Updated on July 5, 2011

Making Massage Accessible

When the average person hears massage mentioned, the first images that usually come to his or her mind are of what we would call the Swedish modality: on a table, with oil or lotion for lubrication, professionally draped with a sheet so that only the body part being worked on is exposed, perhaps with a blanket for warmth. S/he might envision a 50-minute session filled with long, gliding strokes, soft music playing in the background, and an overall atmosphere of calm and relaxation. All this is true. However, most first-time clients do not know much, if any, of the history or technical aspects of Swedish massage.

Technique

The long, gliding strokes most commonly associated with this modality are called effleurage. They give continuity to the session; strokes toward the heart promote blood flow, strokes away from the heart are calming nerve strokes.

Petrissage, the second Swedish stroke, consists of kneading or compressing the tissue, and has numerous benefits, including increasing local circulation and the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the muscle, as well as softening adhesions and decreasing overall tension.

Friction strokes involve the use of fingers, palms, or a soft fist in small circular motions, breaking up local adhesions and scar tissue, stimulating local circulation, carrying away toxins and metabolic waste, and hydrating the tissues.

The next stroke, vibration, is a fine, tremulous movement, sinking into the tissue. This stimulates nerve activity and sometimes even internal organs, and adds variety to the work.

The final stroke is called tapotement, and utilizes a drumming or patting motion, either with fingertips, with a soft fist, the ulnar side of the hand, cupped hands, or even with a plucking motion. In addition to stimulating the nervous system, tapotement tones muscle and softens tissue, increasing blood flow to the area.

History

The terms effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement were coined by Johann Mezger, who is credited for bringing massage into the medical field, in the late 19th century. Swedish massage was fathered by Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish physiologist who combined movement and massage to promote overall wellness and health, and lived from 1776 to 1839, doing his work at the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics, which he founded. It was not until 1856 that two brothers, George and Charles Taylor, introduced Swedish massage to America, by writing a textbook on the subject. The 1980's began the rise of accredited massage schools, and by the 1990's it had become more accepted by the medical profession.

Benefits

The overall benefits of massage have long been understated. They include relaxation and the relief of tension, in addition to improvement in muscle tone and circulation. Also, massage can help prevent or delay muscle atrophy from forced inactivity in the elderly or invalid.

Swedish massage can aid in lymphatic circulation, speeding up the elimination of toxins, and help the movement of waste in the intestines, reducing constipation and promoting regularity. There are also more immediate benefits, such as stretching muscles and connective tissue, increasing the range of motion of joints, reducing pain and inflammation, and preventing the formation of adhesions.

Emotionally, the physical touch involved in these sessions can help lower the sense of isolation a person might feel, increase their comfort level with their bodies, and over all give a person a sense of calmness and serenity, which is all too rare in our fast-paced society. Swedish massage is a wonderful tool to promote wellness and happiness, for any kind of person.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • restrelax profile image

      restrelax 

      6 years ago from Los angeles CA

      Very informative hub. keep it up.

    • Full of Wit profile image

      Full of Wit 

      7 years ago

      Great hub. You're so right about the benefits being understated. Too often, people regard massage as only a form of relaxation and/or pampering, but there are truly a plethora of benefits that can result from massage.

    • theindiaphile profile image

      theindiaphile 

      7 years ago from London

      Inspiring. I like chavutti myself but this looks most relaxing

    • Todd Cunningham profile image

      Todd Cunningham 

      8 years ago from Bloomingdale, NY

      Maddie this is an excellent hub very well written accurate and informative a great service to massage

    • lindaadams37 profile image

      lindaadams37 

      8 years ago

      Call it by any other name but Massage definitely has its benefits and difficult to be replaced by any other treatment whatsoever.

    • HealthQuote profile image

      HealthQuote 

      8 years ago

      this has to be the best massage you can get if you have back problems

    • Lamme profile image

      Lamme 

      8 years ago

      Very interesting. I've had several massages, but never understood the basics. Now I really want a massage!

    • pathannaziya1 profile image

      pathannaziya1 

      8 years ago from nadiad

      thank you

    • Kclark09 profile image

      Kclark09 

      8 years ago

      Great hub! Very precise explanation of basic Swedish massage. I like the emotional aspects you included as they are such a important and commonly overseen part of massage.

    • profile image

      gymnastkv 

      8 years ago

      I am definnetly going to use this massage sometime!

      Good job with this hub!

    • Gemynii profile image

      Gemynii 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Great hub!

    • shareitt profile image

      shareitt 

      8 years ago

      I suggest your own massage chair then you can get a massage anytime!

    • paulthomley profile image

      paulthomley 

      8 years ago from north alabama

      All too often, when we specialize in a certain area, meanings of words become so commonplace that we take for granted everyone knows their meanings. I appreciate your not doing that in this case, and explaining the different techniques in detail. As a chronic pain specialist, I would prescribe weekly massage for at least 75% of my patients, if only insurance would cover it fully. Nice Job! Thank You!

    • profile image

      Lisa 

      9 years ago

      The words paint a visual. I want a massage now

    • profile image

      Alan 

      9 years ago

      Very nice hub. You have captured the essence of Swedish massage and its benefits. I think many first time clients would be interested in your information. I am going to have to check out your other hubs.

    • WaynePoole profile image

      WaynePoole 

      9 years ago from America

      Great hub, I know you put a lot of time and effort into it. Thanks.

    • JPSO138 profile image

      JPSO138 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

      Very interesting. I love reading your hub and learning from it. Keep them coming.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 

      9 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      nicely done hub, thanks for expalining the brief history of massage and its health benefits.

    • massagetherapy profile image

      massagetherapy 

      10 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

      Hi there Maddie,

      Really enjoyed your massage hub. Very well written and informative.

      A nice overview. Well done!

    • raintree profile image

      raintree 

      10 years ago

      Hi Maddie,

      Thank you for this clear and interesting explanation of massage.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)