Swedish Massage

swedish massageSwedish Massage was developed in nineteenth century Sweden by Peter Ling. This style of massage is applied with the hands and the arms. It deals with the soft tissues, including the muscles, tendons, associated fascia, joint capsules, ligaments and skin.

The techniques used are:


Which is a gliding motion that works superficially, moderate or deep and moves towards the heart.

It is rhythmic and applied with the palm or the fingers. This increases lymphatic and venous return. It increases circulation and can reduce edema.

Effleurage is used by many therapists to accustom the client to their touch in the beginning of the massage, to warm up the muscles and to induce relaxation. It is also used to interrupt or confuse pain messages that are going to the brain and to lessen discomfort by balancing the nervous system.

Effleurage is also a good way for the therapist to scan for problems.


Petrissage is best described as vigorous kneading and gently wringing, squeezing, compressing or rolling muscle mass.

This technique will stimulate blood flow through deeper blood vessels than Effleurage or Friction will. It is used by therapists to ease deeper muscle aches, to work on trigger points, to relieve swelling of deeper tissues, to move trapped congestion out of the muscles and to assist venous return.

Compression is especially good for canceling spasms.


The fingertips, thumbs and the heal of the hand are used to work the underlying tissues just beneath the skin. Friction can be small circular motions, rolling or wringing (like a gentle Indian burn).

Cross-fiber friction is friction that goes against the direction of the muscle fibers, it is used often in Sports Massage. The benefits of friction are to address a joint, to reduce swelling, to bring blood to the areas of dry, stringy muscles and to rub soreness away.

Blood flow will be stimulated through superficial blood vessels.


This is tremulous movement created by the hand or fingers and usually range from about five to ten times per second. Shaking or rocking the joint, limb or body part are also forms of Vibration.

Vibration is used to increase the contractible power of the muscles, to interrupt or cancel pain, to release some spasms and to stimulate nerves. Used strongly it promotes contractions and stimulates the muscle, used softly it can be calming to the nerves.


This is the one that you see in every TV show that someone is getting a massage, one way to execute it is to do what look like chopping motions. Tapotement is any series of brisk hits with the fingers, the palms or the outsides of the hands. It is used by the therapist to increase contraction of muscle fibers, increase blood supply and to push out congestion in the superficial layer of fascia.

Find out more about the American Massage Therapy Association