What is a Swedish massage and what are the benefits?

What Is A Swedish Massage

When you think of a classic massage, you’re actually thinking of a Swedish massage. It is the most commonly practised massage therapy and offers you a wonderful relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Here we cover all you need to know about this type of massage, and explain the Swedish massage benefits. So you can look forward to booking one of your own.

What is a Swedish massage?

You probably already have a reasonably good idea of what Swedish massage is. That’s because it is the classic and traditional massage that you will have seen in movies and advertising, even if you haven’t experienced it personally.

There are a number of different Swedish massage techniques, but all combine to deliver a delightfully relaxing massage through gentle circular pressure applied by the therapist’s hands (known professionally as ‘friction’). Other Swedish massage techniques include:

  • Effleurage – a type of gentle stroking, including long strokes.
  • Petrissage – what you think of when muscles are kneaded.
  • Vibration – includes light tapping and other techniques which can cause the body to lightly shake or vibrate.
  • Hacking – includes the karate-style ‘chops’ you may also associate with massage. 

Pehr Henrik Ling is credited as the Father of Swedish Massage, in addition to bringing physical education to Sweden.

Swedish massage is incredibly enjoyable. It is restorative, working with the muscles and soft tissues to provide calm and balance, and even have an overall effect on your wellbeing.

Being a classic massage, Swedish massage is often the foundation for many other treatments, and can also be mistaken for them. The two most commonly mistaken techniques are aromatherapy and Thai massage:

Difference between aromatherapy and Swedish massage

An aromatherapy massage can be a Swedish massage. In an aromatherapy massage, a custom blend of essential oils is added to your massage oil to ease mental or physical ailments.

Difference between Thai and Swedish massage

Thai massage often doesn’t use oils and is usually done on the floor, rather than on a table. The recipient remains clothed while the therapist helps them into assisted yoga positions to stretch and relax the body. It’s more vigorous and sometimes focuses on acupressure points.

What are the benefits of Swedish massage?

The goal of Swedish massage is to improve your circulation and promote relaxation through soothing your muscles. It’s therefore quite different from deep tissue massage or sports massage. The techniques involve soft strokes over areas which are more prone to pain, or without much muscle coverage. Where the muscles are thicker, the pressure is changed and the massage is deeper.

There are numerous benefits of Swedish massage including:

Easing of muscle pain

Whether you’ve overdone it in the gym, or you suffer from long-term or chronic muscle or joint pain, Swedish massage can help to alleviate pain. Your massage therapist can target particular pain points, reducing the muscle tension in the area, allowing pain to ease. For many, this natural way of managing pain is welcomed in preference to taking pain medication. 

Increased blood circulation

The different massage techniques improve blood circulation to the areas being worked on. This has a number of different benefits. The increased warmth is soothing and eases sore muscles. But it also helps your body to drain away the toxins we all store up simply through everyday life. Whilst the massage will leave you feeling deeply relaxed, afterwards you may experience a real boost in energy as a result of increased blood circulation. Blood circulation helps improve recovery, as fresh oxygenated blood flows more easily to the area.

Increased range of movement

By gently working the ligaments and muscles, this massage can help to improve your range of movement, keeping you supple and agile. The joints are able to release their natural lubricants. In addition, the therapist may incorporate some gentle stretches into your massage, and these too can help to improve your range of movement.

Reduction in physical stress

Stress can cause our muscles to tense; we’re bracing for the fight or flight response. However, we need to take care to allow our muscles to relax again, discharging the tension when we haven’t fought or run! Swedish massage alleviates the tension, allowing the muscles to relax and removing the imprint of physical stress. In turn, this can also help improve your posture as muscles are no longer forced to overcompensate. Many people find that Swedish massage relieves tension headaches.

Reduction in emotional stress

Unfortunately, many of us live stressful lives with pressures on our time and causes for worry. Being pampered and lulled into relaxation for an hour or 90 minutes allows all of that emotional stress to ebb away.

Aids immunity

Regular Swedish massage has been shown to support and aid a healthy immune system. This is most likely a by-product of the fact that the massage de-stresses the body. Stress has a nasty negative effect on immunity, so anything you do to reduce stress will help to naturally improve your immunity.

Releases feel good chemicals

Massage has been scientifically proven to release a range of feel good hormones and chemicals in our bodies, such as oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. It’s not just that it makes you feel good by giving you time out and much needed attention, it actually has an effect at a chemical level to make you feel amazing.

Improve sleep

One of the chemicals we mention above – serotonin – is vital for healthy sleep patterns. It helps you to drop off more easily and also stay asleep. Many people opt to have their massage in the late afternoon or evening precisely so that they can drift off to the Land of Nod afterwards. It’s another benefit of having your Swedish massage done at home; you don’t have to head out into a bustling world afterwards. Instead, you get to really maximise on the benefits.

Is Swedish massage safe during pregnancy?

We often get asked whether Swedish massage is safe during pregnancy. It’s not just safe, it’s actually the recommended type of massage if you are pregnant in your second or third trimester. Your massage therapist will put you into a comfortable seated position or have you lie on your side for your Swedish massage.

How to prepare for a Swedish massage

We really recommend having a Swedish massage at home. You’re then in your most comfortable environment. The therapist will bring the table and everything they need.

You will need to undress to your underwear, but the therapist will ensure your dignity is preserved by giving you time to change in private and using draped sheets or towels. 

Let your massage therapist know if you have any particular pain points as well as medical conditions. Your massage will last either 60 or 90 minutes depending on what you’ve chosen. Book an at-home Swedish massage today.