Swedish Massage


What is Swedish massage?

Swedish massage is a type of massage that uses five basic techniques or motions against the skin to manipulate the soft tissue beneath. These techniques include:

  • a sliding motion called effleurage;
  • a kneading motion called petrissage;
  • crosswise motion referred to as friction;
  • tapping or percussive motions called tapotement
  • vibration, a rocking or “shaking” motion.

Lotions or oils are usually applied to the skin first to reduce skin-to-skin friction and facilitate smooth motions. Interestingly, Swedish massage did not originate in Sweden, nor was it “invented” by a Swede. In Sweden, these techniques comprise what is known as “classic massage.”

What conditions can Swedish massage treat?

Swedish massage is based on the Western understanding of anatomy as opposed to Eastern massage that works along meridians, or lines of energy in the body. It's widely used to treat a host of issues involving the musculoskeletal system, including degenerative conditions like arthritis and other joint issues, sore or strained muscles, and even to relieve some of the aches and pains of pregnancy. But the technique also treats conditions involving other systems, including:

  • migraine headaches
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • depression and anxiety
  • water retention
  • fatigue and insomnia

It's also used in sports training and occupational therapy to address strains and injuries related to specific activities.

What are the benefits of Swedish massage?

Swedish massage is not as deep or forceful as a deep-tissue massage, but it still provides many benefits, including:

  • easing painful muscle “knots” and tension
  • reducing joint stiffness and improving range of motion
  • calming nerves and promoting relaxation
  • increasing circulation to increase oxygen and nutrients to cells
  • improving lymphatic drainage to carry away waste
  • promoting recovery after an injury or illness or following surgery
  • speeding muscle recovery following intense physical activity
  • preventing muscle spasms and chronic cramping

Depending on the condition you're having treated, your massage therapist can vary the techniques and the intensity to achieve optimal results based on your health needs and goals.

Related pages: Massage TherapyRegistered Massage Therapists | Massage Therapy FAQs