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Massage Swedish

Swedish Massage is a name given to what is usually referred to as traditional or classic massage. The name 'Swedish Massage' derives from a gymnastic movement system developed by a Swedish gymnastics instructor and uses the same hands-on techniques as classic massage to improve muscular function, movement, circulation and pain relief as well as helping with many other physical problems.
Massage Swedish

In This Article
History How Does It Work?
A Typical Appointment Treatment / Time / Cost / Number of Sessions
Is It Right For You?
The use of massage therapy dates back to 3,000 B.C when the benefits of 'rubbing' the body were noted by ancient Greek, Egyptian and Far Eastern civilisations. The term 'Swedish Massage' does not actually describe a massage that greatly differs to what we know as traditional or classic massage. In all intents and purposes it is in fact the same thing and in Sweden it would just be referred to as 'massage'.

Swedish Massage is often credited to Per Henrik Ling (a gym instructor and fencing master who founded the Royal Central Gymnastic Institute in his native Sweden in 1813) when he developed something called the Swedish Movement System. This system used movements that were described by physician George Taylor in 1885 as stroking, kneading, striking and rubbing. Although Taylor wrote that the system would be difficult to learn and apply as a medical resource, many books were then published illustrating the movements used by Ling and referring to them as Swedish Massage.

It is a Dutch practitioner by the name of Johan Georg Mezger who is given credit for systemising massage and adopting French names for the strokes by which massage is applied to the body: effleurage (or stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (striking), and frictions (rubbing). After George Taylor's use of the English terms for massage when describing Per Henrik Ling's Swedish Movement System, Ling's system was transposed by many to become the Swedish Massage System and may explain why classic massage is often referred to as Swedish Massage.

Swedish Massage, or just massage if you will, involves the manipulation of the body using various fixed, moving, structured and unstructured forms. By nature we already perform massage on ourselves when we overstretch a muscle or feel stiff and then rub the affected area to make it feel better.

A massage therapist applies pressure using their hands, fingers, feet, elbows and knees to target and massage the skin, muscles, joints and ligaments. By doing so the aim is to improve function by allowing soft tissue to move freely. In chronic cases of injury, disease or tension, painful adhesions build up in the muscle tissue preventing movement. This leads to a lack of function creating a block in circulation and causing inflammation from toxins.

Massage breaks down any adhesions in the tissue, restores movement and once tension is released, improves circulation aiding pain relief and increasing function to the affected area. Massage is also effective in reducing stress by releasing tension in the body and therefore has beneficial effects on psychological problems too.

Be prepared
You are advised to find a Swedish massage practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your massage session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main massage organisations are listed at the foot of this article. On finding a Swedish massage practitioner, ask about their expertise and testimonials from previous clients.

Before your appointment, spend time thinking about your health or condition and what you hope to achieve by having Swedish massage. For many, massage is a way to help recover from an injury or disorder while for others it's to reduce muscle tension or relieve stress. Make some notes about your expectations as this will aid your therapist in creating an effective treatment program.

Massage helps to release toxins from the body so avoid drinking alcohol before your session and drink plenty of water before and after to help flush toxins from the body. Avoid eating a large meal but have a light snack (nothing spicy or fatty) a couple of hours before. You may want to consider taking some gentle exercise beforehand to warm up the muscles.

What to expect 
Your therapist will spend time during your first appointment questioning you about your medical history, general health and lifestyle. They will then perform a physical examination of your body for muscle imbalances and checking your range of movement.

Swedish massage requires the practitioner to be hands-on which means you'll be either fully or partially undressed. Your practitioner will provide you with towels, a robe or blanket but if you feel uncomfortable removing your clothes let them know.

Swedish massage uses five key movements: vibration, tapping, kneading, stroking and friction. Your therapist may use oils to help apply the movements more easily. Many of the movements are gentle and rhythmical helping the muscle tissue to relax and aiding the therapist in identifying tense or tender areas.

As the session progresses, your therapist may apply deeper kneading pressure (called 'petrissage') which when applied will stretch out and separate muscle tissue encouraging better circulation of fluids in the body and the release of toxins.

Once your session is over the therapist will discuss the treatment with you and then make recommendations for any further sessions. You'll be encouraged to drink plenty of water to flush out toxins that have been released by the massage.

Your first session may take longer than subsequent sessions as your practitioner discusses with you your medical history, carries out their initial assessment and then recommends a course of treatment. Expect this session to last 60-90 minutes with follow-up sessions 30-60 minutes.

Swedish massage prices vary depending on your location so it's advisable to check with your local practitioner before making an appointment. Expect to pay £25 - £40 for your first session with subsequent sessions costing £15 - £30.

How many session you'll need will depend on your circumstances. Many people use Swedish massage as part of their health regime and visit on a monthly basis while people with chronic conditions require weekly visits over a period of one or two months.

Swedish massage is a safe and effective therapy that is beneficial to overall health. It can help with injury or disease and also aid stress-relief (often the cause of muscle tension). Swedish massage should be avoided if you have any wounds, infections or bruising on the skin. Muscle or ligament tears should be left to heal before massage is applied. If you are diabetic or pregnant, inform the therapist before starting any treatment.

Consult with your GP and Swedish massage practitioner about any medical problems or concerns you have as they are trained to recognise what can and cannot be treated with the therapy.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Anxiety Back Pain Disc Problems
Joint Pain Ligament Sprain Muscle Cramps
Muscle stiffness Shoulder pain Sports injuries
Stress Whiplash

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