You may have heard the term Swedish Massage but what type of massage does this technique actually employ? What does it have to do with Sweden? Why does it have that name? To answer a few of your queries, Swedish Massage actually has a rich history in the art of massage. As a technique popularized by contemporary massage culture, a Swedish Massage is what most people think of when they picture going to a studio for a massage session with a therapist.
In reality, a Swedish Massage has little to do with Sweden or Swedish practitioners. In fact, it’s a term that’s most commonly used in the U.S and is little known elsewhere. The name stems from a Dutch massage practitioner named Johan Georg Mezger and it came about when he first coined several French terms that described the stokes he used in his massage methods.
These specific terms are:
- Effleurage - This type of movement directs circulation towards the heart by small, quick strokes to help encourage the flow of blood and lymph.
- Petrissage - With a number of different petrissage techniques, this category refers to movements that include pressing, lifting, and compression like muscle or skin rolling, kneading, and wringing.
- Tapotement - This category of movements refers to percussive types of manipulations. Several examples are pounding, tapping, and cupping. These gentle to firm actions range in intensity depending upon the tissue being worked on.
- Frictions - Just as its name implies, friction movements involve pressing tissues and repeated rubbing actions in circular or using two hands, opposite directions.
This basic massage modality can be used as a stand alone treatment or else it acts as a foundational massage for other techniques like sports massage, hot stone, deep tissue and more. If you are new to the art of massage, we recommend giving Swedish Massage a try!