Massage therapy is becoming a popular method of choice to ease muscles and relieve stress. There seems to be so many types of massage techniques available. So many clinics offer what is called Swedish massage. This post will explained what that means in a practical sense so that you can make a great choice for yourself.
Massage as a profession was first standardized in Sweden and credited to Per Ling in the 1800s. He determined that there were five basic techniques which involved the massage profession. The standard Swedish techniques include effleurage, petrissage, vibrations, tapotement, and stroking.
Effleurage is a gliding of the hands over the body. This technique is used to spread the oil or lotion, increases local circulation, and mechanically pushes blood flow and lymph through the body. Effleurage is a soothing, stroking movement used at the beginning and the end of the facial and/or body massage. It is also used as a linking move between the different strokes and movements. Effleurage is basically a form of massage involving a circular stroking movement made with the palm of the hand.
Petrissage is a kneading motion used to increase circulation. The applied pressure is deep and compresses the underlying muscles. It helps to break down adhesions in the muscle fibres and fascia.
Tapotement is the repetitive motions used to either stimulate or relax the body, depending on the speed the technique is used. If used quickly, tapotement increases the nerve firing in the local tissue. Thus it is mainly used when maintaining or increase the tone of weakened muscles. It can also help loosen mucous such as in those who suffer from chronic bronchitis. Slower tapotement calms the nerve firings. It is primarily used to “wake up” the nervous system and also as a stimulating stroke which can release lymphatic build up in the back.
Vibrations are also used to either stimulate or calm nerves as they interact with muscles. Slower vibrations used in a rhythmic manner help to calm nerves whilst faster vibrations increase tone in muscle fibres.
Finally, stroking is the lightest of Swedish massage techniques. It is used as a massage opener or closer. Because of the light touch it has no mechanical effects but is used to bring awareness to the body and to calm the nerve firings down. It is especially important when dealing with acute spasms.
As it has evolved over the past century and a half, massage has come to incorporate several other methods. These are called Non-swedish massage and can have many other labels.
Swedish massage techniques are considered the basics in modern massage therapy practice whilst Non-Swedish massage are the alternative techniques. Massage therapists registered with the College of Massage Therapist of Ontario (CMTO) are educated and practised in both to offer the best service to the presenting problems of a patient.
Contributing Author: Keenan Viau is a Registered Massage Therapist at MCA Wellness Clinic in Toronto, ON.