Relaxation massage – also called Swedish massage – is the most well-known type of massage therapy.
It’s origins date back to the 1800’s when a Swedish fencing instructor Per Henrik Ling, hurt his elbows from what was likely too much repetitive sword swishing. This Mr Ling applied regular ‘tapping’ strokes to his elbows, and found himself healed - in record time! He was so delighted that he set about developing a whole swag of techniques to fit neatly within the mechanism we know today as Relaxation, or Swedish massage.
What is Relaxation (Swedish) Massage?
Relaxation (or Swedish) Massage hones in on muscles and soft tissue using a combination of gliding strokes, kneading, tapping and friction – each with a nifty sounding name… but more on these later.
First, the benefits – which are certainly niftier still!
Relaxation (Swedish) massage therapy helps you feel – and heal – better (and faster) in your mind and your body, letting you pack those pills away.
It works to:
It also eases physical pain, discomfort and difficulty related to:
Now, back to those Relaxation Massage techniques…
– The ones with curious names! These are: effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration and tapôtement, explained in more detail below
Effleurage (translated means, brushing, stroking)
- A series of long and gliding strokes
- Movement flow is towards the heart
- Pressure is light or medium and constant
- Warms up muscles and connective tissue
Tapôtement (translated means, tapping or percussion)
- A series of fast, choppy and rythmic movements
- Stimulates and tones large muscle group areas (ie. thighs, buttocks)
- Technique is too intense for certain clients and conditions
- Includes techniques of ‘cupping’, ‘hacking’ and ‘pummeling’:
- Cupping: Therapist cups hands and applies these with speedy repetition
- Hacking: Therapist uses sides of hands applied in a chopping motion
- Pummeling: Therapist applies closed, loose fists in quick succession
Pétrissage (translated means, knead, roll)
- Movement is much like kneading dough
- Hands lift, squeeze and roll flesh - releasing tension
Friction (translated means, to rub)
- A series of slow sliding or circular movements
- Uses hands hand, fingers, knuckles or forearm
- Therapist leans their body weight gently into each stroke
- Deepest pressure method within Swedish Massage
- Pressure is applied then carefully released
Vibration (translated means, rocking, shaking, jostling)
- A series of gentle shakes using hands or fingertips
- Stimulates and tones smaller muscle group areas
- Used for delicate muscles in places like faces - or of course, the spine
Remember: Drink lots of water after having a massage
After your massage it’s quite normal to experience a level of tenderness or stiffness in your muscles and joints. Make sure you drink plenty of water to flush your tissues of cellular waste that’s been freed up in response to your massage.
What the medical community has to say:
Therapeutic massage is gaining increasing acceptance from the medical fraternity at large. More and more clinical studies are showing how massage does far more than simply relaxing the body. Evidence shows its positive effects on blood pressure, heart rate, stress and depression along with a long list of illnesses and health conditions.