Swedish Massage or Classic Massage is the oldest of the western traditions. It dates back to the early attempts by Per Henrik Ling (1176-1839) to introduce a method of massage into sports education. In doing so, he integrated a number of different existent Eastern healing techniques into a Western system of anatomy, physiology and blood circulation. Further development by Johan Georg Mezger of Holland (1839-1909) produced the current classical or traditional system of Swedish Massage. Mezger is particularly noted for the naming of the different strokes applied in Swedish Massage. These are Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction and Tapotement.
- Effluerage (touching lightly) is a smooth gliding stroke.
- Petrissage (kneading) is a kneading of the flesh.
- Friction (rubbing) is the deep, circular movements to the soft tissue.
- Tapotement (tapping) is the application of cupped hands, the fingers or the edge of the hand in short, alternating taps on the body.
In addition to these 4 original strokes, the massage therapist can use vibration (shaking).
In theory, Swedish Massage helps the body to relax while it improves circulation and increases the range of motion or movement of the muscles and joints. A practitioner uses this type of massage therapy to help an individual recover from stress and to prevent the onset of injury and stress-related illness. By relaxing the client, Swedish Massage reduces stress. This helps decrease stress-related illnesses. By improving the circulation, Swedish Massage decreases swelling around the injury and enhances lymphatic system production. As a result, healing speeds up and the reduction of swelling increases mobility of the affected parts.
Swedish Massage is the traditional form of Western Massage. Since its origins, and with the increase of massage in popularity, massage practitioners have created variations. These include three on the most-popular list. The offsprings of Swedish Massage include
- Trigger Point Massage
- Sports Massage and
- Deep Tissue Massage.