Swedish massage is gaining acceptance as a complementary treatment for many stress related symptoms. Studies have shown that massage can relax the body, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce stress and depression. Swedish is used as symptomatic treatment for headache, facial pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, other chronic and acute conditions, and athletic injuries..
The specific techniques used in Swedish massage involve the application of long gliding strokes called effleurage. Friction, and kneading and tapping movements on the soft tissues of the body are also used for deeper work. Oil or cream is used in Swedish to facilitate the sliding motion of most of the massage techniques that are used. The main massage stroke, effleurage, is a flowing motion that follows the shape of the muscle group being addressed. The therapist’s hands are open and most of the contact is with the flat of the hands. It is the move used mainly to calm and relax the receiver. When a therapists begins to work, he or she uses effleurage to apply oil over large areas and to generally check out areas of tightness.
When tightness and knots are encountered, the therapist may go a little deeper using Petri sage - a kneading motion that lifts, squeezes and rolls tissue to release muscle tension, improve blood flow and increase lymphatic drainage.
When more pressure is needed, the therapist uses friction, the stroke generally used in deep tissue massage. The therapist uses body mechanics to apply pressure using the flat of their hands 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.
Vibration is a technique used to release muscle tension in more delicate areas, such as those on the face or along the spine. 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. Other movements usually employed in more vigorous, deep tissue work are tapping and percussion, called tapotement. The therapists may form their hands into a cup shape and use chopping motions in quick succession. The same motion can be used with the sides of the hands as well. Loose fist may be use to rapidly pummel large muscle groups of the thighs and buttocks. Although most experienced massage therapist use a variety of bodywork methods, Swedish forms the basis of most of their work.