Swedish Massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. It is the most popular 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 massaging the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. However, Swedish Massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. It is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.
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.
In all Swedish massage, the therapist lubricates the skin with massage lotion, crème, oil or gel, 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.
Additional Swedish Massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during your Swedish Massage session; communication is encouraged with your professional massage therapist so that your massage is customized to your specific needs.
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.