When massage comes to mind, many visualize a spa setting, candles, marble floors and the Swedish Massage.
Out of all of the types of massage performed today, Swedish Massage is most common. Therapists utilize the techniques included with Swedish Massage primarily to relax the entire body. Although Swedish massage is referred to by many as the “fluff” massage, the benefits really goes beyond just helping someone relax. You may be surprised to learn that this type of massage helps energize the body by stimulating circulation in the muscle tissues.
Swedish Massage Includes Five Basic Techniques
There are five basic techniques used to encourage and manipulate your muscles to get oxygen and blood flow moving toward the heart. Doing this is what results in the feeling referred to by many as “reducing tension, de-stressing,” and ultimately contributes to the overall feeling of well-being.
Effleurage: A fancy French word that really just means “to skim” is used with either firm or light pressure, depending on the therapist and client’s wishes. Most people find this movement soothing and the therapist will use an effleurage stroke at the beginning and end of the massage or to link between different strokes using their palms, fingers, knuckles, or forearms.
Petrissage: Another French word meaning “to knead” which gently lifts and create space between the layers of muscles which relaxes muscles and increases circulation.
Friction: Circular pressure and movement of the top layers of muscle against the deeper layers of muscle tissue to remove muscles knots and only for a short period of time in one area. This aspect of Swedish massage helps break up scar tissue and adhesions.
Vibration: This is often used to desensitize a point or area, perhaps a tight or sore area in the muscle and helps relax and sooth the muscle.
Tapotment/percussion: Taking from the French word “Tapoter” which means to tap or to drum, this technique is very specific to Swedish massage and delivered one of five ways. Your therapist can use tapotment to wake up your nervous system and encourage your lymphatic system to release any build up. Tapping over delicate areas such as the face to cupping to help break up congestion and creates a “glow” to the area ultimately releasing tension and cramping.
With the increase of oxygen and blood flow, now the body knows what to do to release “toxins” from the muscles. Your therapist will utilize many of the five techniques in all massages to warm the muscle tissues prior to other techniques such as trigger point therapy or deep tissue and which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury.