When people think of massage therapy, they’re most likely thinking of Swedish massage techniques. But what is Swedish massage really all about?
Swedish massage is among the most popular massage techniques in the U.S., and it’s a great entry point if you’re new to massage. The techniques can be adjusted for people who are sensitive to pressure and for those who want deep muscle relief. Various therapists may have personal massage styles that differ from person to person, but there are a few basic hallmarks that differentiate a Swedish massage from other types of massage therapy.
Preparation, Positioning, and Warm-Up
In general, for Swedish massage you’ll lie prone on a table with your face resting in a U-shaped cushion new york Asian Massage, so you can breathe easily without twisting your head to one side. It is often performed with you nude or nearly nude beneath a sheet. If you prefer, you can wear underwear, a swimsuit, or a tank top and shorts. The massage therapist will lift only certain sections of the sheet at a time, depending on what body part is being worked on. Most Swedish massage practitioners will begin by applying massage oil to your skin, rubbing it in to warm up and relax the muscles. Once the muscles are slightly warm and supple, the therapist can truly dig in to release knots and tension. Many of the massages begin with the back, followed by the backs of the legs, the fronts of the legs, your arms and shoulders, and finally your neck and head, but the order can vary based on personal preference.
Swedish Massage Techniques
Certain strokes and actions are associated with Swedish massage. The term “effleurage” refers to gliding and stroking movements across your skin. “Petrissage” refers to the kneading action that a massage therapist uses to dispel knots and tension in the meat of a muscle. “Tapotement” is a rhythmic tapping action performed by the palm, edge of the hand, or back of the hand. A specialist may also employ friction to produce heat, increase circulation, stimulate nerves, and soothe muscles. Some masseuses will also utilize vibration or shaking of certain muscles to help induce a more relaxed state. Which of these actions your massage therapist uses will depend on your health and fitness level, what areas of your body are experiencing tension or soreness, and any goals you have for the massage.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
You may think a massage is solely intended to relax your body and relieve muscle tension, but those are just two of the many benefits of Swedish massage. Massage therapy can also improve your circulation, relieve joint and nerve pain, and stimulate your lymphatic system. Regular massage can help you sleep better, in addition to helping to dispel stress hormones. Swedish massage can even speed up recovery time following a muscle or joint injury, if applied gently and gradually as part of a monitored physical therapy regimen.
One of the great things about this type of massage is that it’s straightforward and easy to understand, even for massage novices. Unlike Asian-style massages that focus on meridians and energy work, Swedish massage focuses directly on your anatomy. That makes it easy for you to adapt the massage to your needs. Not enough pressure? Ask the therapist to dig deeper. Experiencing pain when the therapist touches a certain muscle? Let her know, so she can adapt her work accordingly. If something makes you nervous or uncomfortable, say so. The more comfortable and relaxed you can be, the better the results of the massage.