Swedish massage therapy is the most well-known and widely practiced type of therapeutic massage – and for good reason. This type of massage focuses on muscle relaxation, targeting superficial muscles (rather than the connective tissues targeted in deep-tissue massage) and increasing blood circulation.
Swedish massage involves long, kneading strokes combined with rhythmic tapping strokes and movement of the joints. This type of massage targets the uppermost layer of muscles and aims to relieve muscle tension. Swedish Massage utilizes five primary massage techniques for healing:
The effleurage technique consists of a series of long, gliding or circular massage strokes that is applied using different degrees of pressure. Effleurage is applied to a patient’s body to loosen muscular knots and to release tension. It is performed at the beginning of a massage therapy session to warm-up the muscles and at the end of it, to soothe them out.
The petrissage technique generally applied by manually compressing soft tissues of an area through rhythmic kneading, squeezing, and/or rolling. These movements are particularly useful for stretching and loosening tense muscles, which also aids in improving blood circulation and helps to detoxify the body.
Friction refers to a firm and focused rubbing technique that is applied to a specific area, usually using just the fingers or thumbs. Compression is often applied in a circular rhythm (Circular Friction) or in perpendicular rhythm (Transverse Friction). The combination of precision and pressure makes Friction ideal for softening and realigning tense muscle fibers and for treating particular joints, such the elbow.
The vibration technique is applied by rhythmically shaking an area of the body to loosen and relax the body. The intensity and pressure of the technique depend on the area of the body that is being treating, such as using both palms across a large area, such as the back or the fingers on small and sensitive area, such as the face. It is especially useful for soothing nerves and treating areas with lots of scar tissue.
The tapotement technique consist of applying rhythmic tapping across patient’s body. The tapping sensations are used to stimulate the flow of blood and endorphins in body. As such, tapotement is particularly useful for relaxing tight muscles and for draining lymphatic build up.