Swedish Massage Therapy techniques generally consist of long, gliding strokes and circular motions and are beneficial to massage therapy for several reasons:
Swedish massage therapy is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, compared to the energy–centric style more common in Asian forms of massage.
Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks.
The development of Swedish massage is often inaccurately credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johann Georg Mezger applied the French terms to name the basic strokes. The term “Swedish” massage is actually only recognized in English and Dutch speaking countries, and in Hungary. Elsewhere the style is referred to as “classic massage”.
Swedish techniques generally consist of a massage of the entire body, focusing on the back and shoulders, with a different approach in each of the four techniques. In the first technique, the therapist concentrates on the back. The therapist applies pressure to the back, stretching the skin and muscles and stimulating the nerves. The second technique is similar to the first, except that the massage is centered on the upper back. The third technique is a sort of twist, where the therapist uses a circular motion on the muscles in the upper back. The fourth technique is a variation of the second, except that the therapist concentrates on the shoulders.