Whether you are considering a profession as a massage therapist or simply interested in getting a massage, there is a lot to consider. There is a fair amount of overlap between many of the different methods. They also have very distinct differences that have to be navigated. There are a lot of different methods and techniques that all serve a different purpose. Trying to figure out what kind of massage therapist you want to be or what kind of spa to make an appointment can be stressful. It can be hard to know what to choose. Let’s take an in depth look at one of the most popular massage methods that is focused on stress relief, Swedish massage.
Swedish Massage Techniques and Methods
To understand the techniques and methods used during a Swedish massage a massage therapist should first understand the objective of a Swedish massage. This classic method of manual manipulation is meant to relax and rejuvenate, where other methods are more tailored to repair and rehabilitation. It utilizes gentler techniques to facilitate the release of muscle tension and help revitalize a client. The kinds of manual motions a massage therapist will see throughout this method are deep circular movements, long strokes, passive joint movements and kneading.
Deep Circular Motions: The deep circular motions are meant to help unknot areas of tension that are most often associated with stress. These circles can be small and concentrated or they can be large for a greater area of impact.
Long Strokes: Employing lengthening strokes with varying pressure on various muscle groups can help loosen muscles that have become stiff from stationary, sedentary work such as office or call center work. Tightening can often happen when the muscles aren’t stretched or engaged in enough exercise.
Passive Joint Movement: This kind of joint manipulation is different from aggressive joint movements because it is meant to be relaxing rather than rehabilitative. Passive manipulation of the joints is gentler than those used for combating and repairing injuries.
Kneading: The alternating pressures and varied pace of the kneading motion aid in relieving tension by loosening stiff areas. Kneading can be done with different parts of the hand and at different speeds to create a different effect on the muscles.
What to Expect with Swedish Massage?
If a client has never had or heard of a Swedish massage, they might be curious about what they could be in for. The exact details of their experience will depend on what spa they visit and who their massage therapist is. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common questions people have before getting their very first Swedish massage.
What area of the body does Swedish massage include?
Since this particular method of massage is focused on restrained movements relaxation, the anatomical focus can be nearly any area of the body with stress or tension. If a client just needs to relax in general, they may want to consider the option of a full body massage rather than having their massage therapist focus on a specific area. On the other hand, if a client has a specific area that is giving them trouble or causing them discomfort, they may want to request a massage focused on their trouble spots.
Will the body be sore or uncomfortable during or after?
Methods like deep tissue and other intense techniques can cause discomfort and even pain because they are attempting to undo knots quickly and repair the body in pretty significant ways. Swedish massage, however, is all about making the client feel good. Sometimes there can be some slight discomfort from various pressures that are applied, but a massage therapist will likely ask if the client prefer light, medium or heavy pressure before the appointment even begins and will ask periodically if they need any adjustment. A client’s relaxation and ultimate comfort are the priorities.
Do I have to be naked for a Swedish massage?
Absolutely not. No professional massage therapist should pressure a client to be more revealing than they are comfortable with. However, the massage therapist will need to have access to the areas they are going to be massaging, so if a client is getting a full body massage it is often helpful to remove their clothes. This might seem uncomfortable, but the massage therapist will cover them with a sheet and move the sheet as needed to access different areas of their body. They will probably ask a client to move from their back to their stomach (or vice versa) at some point during the massage, but all of that can be done beneath the sheet. A client can also ask for a focused massage, such as a neck and shoulder massage, that can help them relieve tension without removing their clothing. Regardless of a client’s specific appointment, most professional massage therapists will do what they can to work with a client if they have a specific modesty issue or are uncomfortable in some way.
What will the atmosphere be like during a Swedish massage?
The precise details of a client’s experience will depend on where they get their massage and who provides it for them. Some Swedish massages can include aromatherapy, relaxing lighting, and soft music or natural sounds such as a fountain or nature recording. The client may even have a choice in the kind of oil their massage therapist uses during the massage. The sights, smells and soothing sounds often add to the experience and serve to deepen the relaxing effects of the Swedish technique. The point of this method is to relax the client and elevate their mood by making them feel better both internally and externally. There are a lot of different things that contribute to their experience beyond the actual techniques being used.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
The most obvious benefit to receiving a Swedish massage is the relaxing effects it has. Relieving tension and decreasing physical stress are an incredibly important part of having a healthy and happy life. Although relaxation may be the primary focus in both the development and application of Swedish massage, it is far from the only benefit. Here are some of the other ways Swedish massage can have a positive impact on a client’s physical health.
Nerve Stimulation: The varied pressures utilized during these kinds of muscle manipulations stimulate the nerves in many different areas of the body. This kind of repetitive, intermittent pressure can stimulate nerves in a way that relieves certain kinds of chronic pain. It can also improve nerve health by unknotting muscles and unbinding those knotted nerves that cause discomfort and pain.
Increased Blood Flow: Circulation is crucial to overall health. A person’s blood flow is the transportation that sees in nutrients and removes waste and toxins. Manual manipulation can be good for strengthening and stimulating the blood vessels in the skin and muscles. Swedish massage stimulates the blood flow throughout many different areas of the body and promotes healthy circulation.
Lymph Drainage: Lymph drainage is something that occurs naturally during voluntary muscle movement. However, if a client does not regularly move their muscles, or do not move them often enough, there can be a build-up of toxins and a blockage of nutrients that begins to occur as a result of built up lymph fluids. Swedish massage can help combat that toxic build up and help cleanse your body.
Breaks Down Knots: Knots, also sometimes referred to as adhesions, can be worked out through massage. The location and severity of the knot will determine the best technique to use. The pressures and movements of Swedish massage warm up the muscles and gently break down some of these painful binding spots. Large adhesions may take several sessions to work out. Severe or extreme knots may require a more intense method of massage all together.
Increased Flexibility: When a client is relaxed, and their muscles are loosened up it makes sense that they would also see an increase in their flexibility and range of motion. Swedish massage can help a client feel more capable of certain stretches and exercises. Increasing your flexibility can help maintain healthy joints and can help prevent against joint and muscle injury.
Improved Overall Health: Cortisol is a hormone caused by stress that does serious damage to a person’s body. If there is a build-up of Cortisol, or it is introduced frequently, it can have destructive effects. It can lead to physical problems such as severe and sudden weight gain, cardiovascular issues, a weakened immune system and renal difficulties. The relaxation and total wellness focus of Swedish massage helps decrease the amount of cortisol in the body by combating and eliminating stress and helps to support overall health.
Did learning about Swedish massage interest you? Ready to become a massage therapist? Upon graduation, Massage Therapy Program students will receive diplomas and be qualified to seek entry-level positions as clinical, medical, or deep tissue massage therapists in wellness clinics and centers, spa environments including resorts and franchises, and self-employment.
Contact us to learn more about how you can become a massage therapist today.