Considering Swedish Massage is one of the most recognised and taught styles of treatment in the West it is disappointing how little people seem to know about it. To call it relaxation massage is like saying a BMW is just a car – so don’t!
Swedish Massage is mostly credited to Per Henry Ling (1776-1837) who was the founder of the Swedish Gymnastic Movement and an early physical therapist although Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger is the one who gave the techniques their French names. Controversy aside the style of massage used today is in my opinion more important than who created it.
Swedish Massage (named Classic Massage in Sweden) comprises five techniques of massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (long gliding strokes used for warming or flushing), petrissage ( a kneading technique that once again is used for warming but also for breaking adhesions), tapotement (we have all seen the chopping and hammering shown in the movies – well it breaks up adhesions too), friction (a cross fiber technique that twists fibres to remove adhesions) and vibration/shaking.
Swedish Massage techniques were designed for use on athletes and are still used effectively in remedial treatments around the world. In fact many of the so called modern massage styles are based on these Swedish Massage techniques. Don’t get me wrong – some of the techniques can be used brilliantly for relaxation massage but their efficacy goes far beyond simple relaxation to therapeutic and remedial techniques.
So next time someone says Swedish Massage is just for relaxation have pity on their lack of knowledge and training.