Swedish massage is the most common and best-known type of massage in the West. It’s the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports massage, deep tissue massage and aromatherapy massage, and is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, as opposed to energy work on “meridiens” or sen lines in Asian massage systems.
If it’s your first time at the spa or you don’t get massage often, Swedish massage is the best place to start.Most people get a 50 or 60-minute Swedish or deep tissue massage, but 75 or 90-minutes gives the therapist more time to work the muscle tissue and achieve results.
A Swedish massage can be slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, depending on the therapist’s personal style and what he or she is trying to achieve.
If you want deeper work and can tolerate more pressure to get relief from chronic muscle pain, it’s better to book a deep tissue massage, which is another form of Swedish massage. If you have pain, it will likely take a series of massages to get results.
What Happens During A Swedish Massage
In all Swedish massage, the therapist lubricates the skin with massage oil and performs various massage strokes. These movements warm up the muscle tissue, releasing tension and gradually breaking up muscle “knots” or adhered tissues, called adhesions. Swedish massage promotes relaxation, among other health benefits.
Before the massage, the therapist should ask you about any injuries or other conditions that he or she should know about.
Things you would want tell a therapist include areas of tightness or pain, allergies, and conditions like pregnancy. You can also tell them up front if you have a preference for light or firm pressure. It’s best not to get a massage if you are ill.
He or she will knock or ask if you are ready before entering.
The Nudity Factor
During a Swedish massage you are generally nude underneath a towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the part of the body he/she is working on, a technique called draping. If the nudity gets you out of your comfort zone, you can keep your underwear on, and many newcomers do.
You usually start by laying face down with your head in a u-shaped face cradle so your spine stays neutral. The therapist generally starts by works your back, using various massage strokes that include effleurage, kneading, friction, stretching, and tapping.
then he or she quickly covers you again. The therapist then massages the front of each leg, both arms, and generally finishes with your neck and shoulders.
Some therapists work in a different order, and all have their own style and techniques. If you only have 50 minutes, you can also ask them to spend more time on a certain area. If the pressure is too light or too firm, you should speak up and ask the therapist to adjust it.
The cost of a Swedish massage will vary, depending on whether you go to a day spa, resort spa, destination spa, a chain like Massage Envy or go to a massage therapist. Swedish massage pricing will also depend on what part of the country you live and how luxurious the spa is.
Why It’s Called Swedish Massage
In the early 19th century the Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) at the University of Stockholm, developed a system called “Medical Gymnastics” which included movements performed by a therapist. These became the known as “Swedish Movements” in Europe and “the Swedish Movement Cure” when they came to the U.S. in 1858.
How Swedish Massage Went “Light”
. At the same time “massage parlors” that were fronts for prostitution gave genuine practitioners an image problem.
The Esalen Institute in California developed the “Esalen massage,” often given by candlelight, with long flowing effleurage performed lightly.
This method influenced Swedish massage, moving it toward a lighter relaxation massage. If you really want results, the thinking goes, you should book a deep tissue massage.