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Swedish Massage: Everything you need to know.

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Have you ever had a "Professional" massage?

I stress the word "Professional." I'm sorry ladies but the massage on Valentine's day that your husband gave you to likely cover-up the fact that he forgot to buy you a gift, although still a nice gesture, doesn't count. Guys, your coach using your neck as a stress ball, while you're benched in overtime and the other team is on a breakaway, doesn't cut it either.

I must confess that I went many years before ever getting a professional massage myself. I wasn't always a Massage Therapist. I used to be a Reconnaissance Specialist in the Army. The closest thing to a professional massage that I got back then was when my Drill Sergeant would kick my....Gluteus Maximus! Although, I have received some Deep Tissue massages in more recent years that left me feeling just as beat-up!

There are many types of massage available, such as Swedish, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Californian, Lomi Lomi, Shiatsu, Thai Massage, Trigger Point, Acupressure, Myofascial Release, Lymphatic Massage, Tuina etc. Each one is unique and depending upon what you'd like to achieve, some may be more appropriate than others. For this article, I've provided you with practically everything that you may need to know about Swedish Massage.

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What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is the most popular and respected type of massage in North America. It involves the use of the Massage Therapists hands, forearms and elbows to manipulate the superficial layers of the muscles.

The therapist uses various techniques known as Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction, Vibration, Tapotement and Percussion during the massage in order to relax the various layers of muscle tissue. These techniques are performed in a specific sequence and direction that promotes proper venous return. Active or passive mobilizations of the joints are often used in this form of massage therapy.

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What are the benefits of a Swedish Massage?

Physical benefits:

  • Relaxes the nervous system

  • Speeds up the healing process for injuries and illnesses

  • Relieves cramps and muscle spasms

  • Decreases muscle fatigue

  • Loosens joints and improves range of motion

  • Increases muscle strength

  • Improves lymphatic drainage of metabolic wastes

  • Stimulates blood circulation

  • Promotes better muscle and skin tone

  • Loosens tight muscles

  • Stretches connective tissue

Psychological and emotional benefits:

  • Mental relaxation

  • Improves duration and quality of sleep

  • Decreases stress and anxiety

  • Increases concentration

  • Greater sense of well-being

  • Improves overall humor

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What conditions can be treated?

Swedish Massage is used to treat people that are suffering from various serious health conditions.

Here is a partial list of some of most common conditions treated using massage therapy.

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Migraines

  • Sciatica

  • Sleeping disorders

  • Inflammatory conditions

  • Asthma

  • Dislocations

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Stroke

  • Parkinson

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Muscle Cramps

  • Tendinopathies (tendonitis)

  • Fractures

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Post-surgical rehabilitation

  • Autoimmune Rheumatic Disorders

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (R)A

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)

  • Frozen Shoulder

  • Golfers/tennis elbow (tendonopathy)

  • Emphysema

  • Muscle Tension/Spasm

  • Sprains

  • Strains

  • Osteoporosis

  • Contusions

  • Etc.

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What can I expect during a Swedish Massage?

In Swedish massage, the person to be massaged lies on a massage table and is draped with either a towel or sheet. It is usually a full-body massage treatment, unless the client specifies otherwise. Each session usually lasts 60 minutes. Essential oils, Massage gels, lotion or unscented oil is used to facilitate the gliding movements of the various techniques.

A massage session usually involves the use of several or all of the following basic techniques:


Effleurage is the most common stroke in Swedish massage. It is a free-flowing and gliding movement towards the heart, tracing the contours of the body using the palm of one or both hands. Oil is applied with this stroke to begin the first stage of massage. The therapist applies a light or medium constant pressure. This stroke is used to warm up the muscles, relax the body, calm the nerves, improve blood circulation and heart function, and improve lymphatic drainage.


This technique resembles kneading dough. It involves lifting, rolling, and squeezing the flesh under or between the hands. Pétrissage is designed to release muscle tension, improve blood flow, and increase lymphatic drainage.


Friction strokes work on deeper muscles than the techniques previously described. The friction technique is a pressure stroke and is the deepest that is used in Swedish massage. The massage therapist applies pressure by placing the weight of his or her body on the flat of the hand and the pads of the thumbs, knuckles, fingers, or the back of the forearms, and then releases the pressure slowly and gently. This movement should be a continuous sliding motion or a group of alternating circular motions.


To effect vibration, the massage therapist gently shakes or trembles the flesh with the hand or fingertips, then moves on to another spot and repeats this stroke. Vibration is designed to release muscle tension in small muscle areas, such as those on the face or along the spine.


Tapotement, or tapping and percussion, is a quick choppy rhythmic movement that has a stimulating or toning effect.

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Can everyone get a Swedish Massage?

You should advise your Massage Therapist if you have any of the following conditions and they will decide if it's a conditional or absolute contraindication.

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Broken bones, fractures, dislocations, or severe sprains

  • Contagious diseases

  • Open or unhealed sores or wounds

  • Body areas that are inflamed, swollen or bruised

  • Varicose veins

  • Recent surgery

  • Severe pain

  • Jaundice

  • Frostbite

  • Kidney disease

  • Large hernias

  • Hemorrhaging

  • Torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles

  • High blood pressure or heart problems

  • Certain kinds of cancer

  • History thrombosis phlorebitis

  • Drug treatment with blood thinners

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How do I know if the Massage Therapist is a good?

Certified Massage Therapists undergo extensive training and the great ones are lifelong students. When seeking out a Massage Therapist for treatment of condition you could always ask your family doctor to refer you to one.

Should you decide to look for one on your own make sure that they are Certified/Registered and a member of a respected professional association for Massage Therapists. There are some Massage Therapists that offer an In-Home Service. This is a great option should you be dealing with mobility issues due to your condition or pain.

Click here to read more about Swedish Massage.

Click here to book an In-Home Swedish Massage.

Book a Sports Massage today and start reaching your fullest potential!

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