What is Swedish massage?

Swedish massage is the most popular and common type of massage, and often used as the go-to massage when someone is feeling run down, experiencing aches and pains, or have a specific problem.

As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

Swedish massage techniques are typically long, smooth, sweeping strokes. Varying in pressure and working on large areas of muscle groups for relaxation or managing minor pain. Swedish massage is a gentle type of full-body massage that’s ideal for people who:

  • are new to massage
  • have a lot of tension
  • are sensitive to touch

 There are five basic strokes and/or styles in a Swedish massage:

  • Effleurage (sliding and gliding)
  • Petrissage (kneading)
  • Tapotement (rhythmic tapping)
  • Friction (with fibers or cross-fibers)
  • Vibration / Shaking

Usually a Swedish massage will last for 60–90 minutes. A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin - a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.