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Swedish Massage Vancouver

Swedish Massage Therapy Vancouver

Swedish Massage Vancouver
1. Swedish Massage Therapy Vancouver

Swedish Massage Vancouver Helpful Information if You Have Back Pain
A Massage is One of the Best Stress Relievers Available.

What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish Massage includes techniques that play an integral part in every treatment with a Registered Massage Therapist. These techniques allow the therapist to confidently manipulate soft tissues to achieve the desired effect. Swedish massage serves as an essential tool for RMTs, allowing them to improve their palpation skills and use them as transitional techniques for deeper, soft tissue-specific treatment. Swedish massage techniques include stroking, effleurage, petrissage, vibrations, and tapotement. 


A general rule of thumb when it comes to achieving a relaxing effect vs a stimulating effect is that slow, rhythmic, and repetitive techniques will provoke a relaxation response by decreasing the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (‘rest & digest’), while techniques with more briskness and an erratic, less predictable pattern will typically stimulate the sympathetic nervous system firing (‘fight or flight’).


Although massage therapy is one of the oldest medical practices, specific massage techniques were not discovered and described until the 1800s. Per Henrik Link is commonly – and incorrectly – credited as being the “father” of Swedish Massage. However, the true inventor is a Dutch doctor named Johann Georg Mezger, and he founded the technique in the year 1868.

Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) was known as a medical pioneer in Physical Therapy, as well as a Swedish educator. Ling often suffered from a significant number of medical and physical illnesses, including rheumatism, lung disease, and gout. Ling eventually developed what he called Medical Gymnastics through his studies, and in 1813 founded the Royal Central Gymnastic Institute.

The true founder of Swedish Massage, Dutch doctor Johann Georg Mezger, was known to be a talented gymnast, as well as possessing a remarkably gifted understanding of physiology. This aspect allowed much encouragement for him to study medicine, which he did at Leiden University. During the completion of his academic studies, he was permitted to treat patients with minor sprains by administering French “friction methods.” Mezger passed his doctoral exam in 1868 and wrote a 47-page dissertation on The Treatment of Distorio Pedis with Frictions. This piece would serve as the therapeutic basis for Swedish Massage.

Types of Swedish Massage Vancouver

  • Stroking

Amongst the lightest technique used in massage, stroking serves as a great introductory and/or closing technique. The patient can feel a good sense of awareness and connection to the body, and the therapist may be able to notice temperature changes through palpation. However, this technique is too light to be able to palpate other aspects, such as muscle and soft tissue tone.

  • Effleurage

Effleurage is a common technique that is used to spread the oil/lotion and is a great introduction to the treatment with the therapist. Effleurage allows palpation of temperature, muscle tone, and texture – however, tenderness may not always be palpable unless the patient’s tissue is already very painful, or if the pressure is deep during this technique. Effleurage can prepare the tissues for deeper techniques or can be used as transitional strokes. 

  • Petrissage

From the French word ‘petrir,’ meaning ‘to knead’ – Petrissage includes a few techniques that are used to warm up the tissue, including muscle squeezing, muscle stripping, wringing, picking up, skin rolling, and a variety of kneading techniques. Generally, petrissage aims to compress and rhythmically release tissue.

  • Vibrations

Vibrations, also known as oscillations to the tissue, can be considered one of the most difficult techniques to master. They can be done without oil/lotion at any point during the treatment, and requires extensive training in the technique. There are two categories of vibrations – fine and coarse. Fine vibrations are characterized as very short, quick, near invisible oscillations of the hand/arm, while coarse vibrations are larger and more visible. Vibrations can also be static (constant tissue contact, the therapist does not glide over the skin), or running (constant tissue contact, the therapist glides a vibrating hand over the skin).

  • Tapotement

The word tapotement is derived from the French word ‘tapoter’ meaning to rap, drum, or pat. This technique can be administered any time during the treatment and does not require oil/lotion. Tapotement can use many scales of pressure which will vary depending on what is necessary – from very light to much heavier tapotement. Light Tapotement consists of pincement and tapping, while Heavy Tapotement includes hacking, clapping/cupping, and beating.


What is a Swedish massage good for?

Since Swedish Massage Therapy aims to relax muscles and improve blood circulation, it can also assist with several symptoms/conditions, including:

  • General pain management
  • Increase in blood flow
  • Rehabilitation for musculoskeletal injuries 
  • Improvement in flexibility
  • Stress reduction
  • Improvement in immune system function. 

Since Swedish Massage aims to be light and relaxing, it can be beneficial for most people – if not all. Sometimes long, rhythmic strokes can be bad for patients with certain medical conditions – such as hypertension – however, this can vary depending on the severity. Since massage therapy generally is an ideal treatment for Fibromyalgia, Swedish Massage techniques may have an impact on it, as well as relieving symptoms of anxiety, depression, and / or stress. 

With every Registered Massage Therapy appointment with an RMT, there will be a pre-treatment assessment where the therapist can discuss what types of massage therapy techniques are required, and why. Nearly all treatments will require at least some degree of Swedish massage treatment to warm up the tissue for deeper and more specific techniques or to allow a smooth transition into a new massage therapy technique. Swedish Massage may also help with easing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms such as mood swings/fatigue, providing relief to cancer symptoms such as pain/fatigue/anxiety, and is typically considered very safe to administer to prenatal/pregnant patients. 

Many people believe this type of massage has limited benefits as a way to “treat yourself,” when you feel it is needed. However, this is a preferable option for those new to the world of massage therapy, or for those looking for a complete massage experience, taking care of all mental, physical, and emotional forms of well-being.

Christina Sharma, RMT

(Massage Therapy Vancouver)

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