Swedish massage has been with us since the 18th century. Dr. Per Henrik Ling is regarded as the father of Swedish massage. The techniques he pioneered are still at the root of the practice today and serve as a wonderful way to relax while increasing oxygen flow within the bloodstream and releasing toxins from one's muscles.
This form of massage has survived for centuries because it works and because it's a very physically enjoyable experience for the recipient. If you've ever luxuriated in the pleasure of a Swedish massage and then basked in the afterglow of its consequences, you'll understand why Ling's legacy continues to be so extremely popular.
Swedish massage works (and feels so good) because it's much more than a simple rubdown. Practitioners utilize a number of specific techniques to produce an incomparable massage experience. Let's look at the six techniques that make up this long-lived massage sequence.
Effleurage. The massage begins with a serious of light strokes delivered via the fingertips, thumbs and palms of the masseuse. From the recipient's perspective, this serves as an introduction to the process, a warm-up that induces relaxation.
Petrissage. At this point, the massage increases in vigor. The gliding movements that marked the effleurage stage are replaced by a more intense kneading of the area being massaged.
Friction. The masseuse transitions from the strong kneading of petrissage to the application of circular pressure primarily utilizing the palms.
Vibration. During this stage of Swedish massage, the masseuse applies movements that quickly vibrate the body.
Percussion. At this point, the stroking and rubbing usually associated with massage are replaced by tapping and chopping movements. This portion of the sequence is the one most frequently associated with Swedish massage. When people think of the practice, they often conjure up mental images of a masseuse delivering a rapid series of "karate chop" -like hacks to the recipient's back. That the percussive portion of the massage.
Movement. The massage concludes with stretching and bending, facilitated by the practitioner.
Every true Swedish massage moves through this same six-step process. The combination of activities produces a unique overall experience that produces some wonderful results.
When one considers the information with which Dr. Ling had to work during the 1700s, the fact that he created a foundation for a form of massage that generates such positive results is nothing short of amazing. Whether he was a true genius visionary or just happened to accidentally stumble upon an approach that works, there's no doubt that he created something special.
Today we understand the body better than ever before. We've mapped our genetic codes, have equipment available to show us exactly what's happening inside us, utilize amazing tests that can show even the slightest irregularities and continue to enjoy the benefits of new technologies designed to keep up healthy and to improve the quality of our lives. Still, there's room for a simple six-step massage that's kept through the centuries. Swedish massage is a perfect example of how some of the older strategies for improved well-being remain worthy of consideration, support and use