An Introduction to Swedish Massage For Massage Therapy College Students
As the most popular form of massage in Canada, Swedish massage has become a top choice for patients looking to relieve stress and improve their physical health. It can be applied gently for relaxation or used to target areas of the body that could benefit from increased blood flow. Because of the popularity and benefits of Swedish massage, massage therapists can be found working in spas, health clinics, or perhaps in their own practice at home.
If you’re considering earning a college diploma in massage therapy, and starting your career in this rewarding field, read on to learn more about the history of Swedish massage, some of the techniques it employs, and a few of the benefits it provides to clients.
Swedish Massage: A Brief History for Students in Massage Therapy College
Swedish massage was invented in the 1830s by a Swedish physiologist and fencing instructor named Per Henrik Ling. It is believed that after an elbow injury, Ling helped himself recover by using percussion strokes around the affected area. This led to Ling developing the technique, until it eventually became what we currently know as Swedish massage.
Swedish massage was then introduced to North America by two American brothers, Dr. Charles and Dr. George Taylor in the 1850s. It has since gained widespread popularity, inspiring people all over the world to pursue massage therapy certification. Today, Swedish massage is considered to be the foundation of several other popular massage techniques such as sports massage, deep tissue massage, and aromatherapy massage.
Swedish Massage Techniques Taught in Massage Therapy College
When applying Swedish massage techniques, massage therapists use their hands, forearms, and elbows to manipulate surface muscle layers. Some movement of the joints might also be involved. Many of these techniques can be grouped into 5 basic strokes, which you’ll learn in massage therapy college. These include:
- Effleurage is a long, gliding stroke that glides along any area of the body at various pressures. This stroke is typically used to apply lotion or massage oil at the beginning of a massage session. Massage therapists use effleurage strokes to assess the body’s tissue, while warming the skin and muscles.
- Petrissage involves kneading, rolling, and compression of the skin and muscles. This movement increases blood flow, releases muscle tension, and stretches tendons.
- Friction strokes consist of small back-and-forth movements used for deep tissue work on specific areas.
- Tapotement involves the use rapid taps or hacks on the client’s body. This stroke can stimulate the nervous, circulatory, and musculoskeletal systems. It can also help loosen mucus buildup associated with certain respiratory conditions.
- Vibration or shaking strokes are used to loosen muscles, and are similar to the effect of a battery-operated massager.
The Benefits of Swedish Massage Therapy
Since Swedish massage has been practiced in North America, numerous studies have been done in relation to both its mental and biological benefits. For example, studies show that Swedish massage is known for helping to treat sports injuries and is also considered an integral part of many pain management protocols. By using strokes that improve circulation, Swedish massage is also widely used to treat conditions like arthritis.
One of the main benefits of Swedish massage is the relaxing effect it provides. Many clients visit their massage therapist for a 30 to 60 minute session to unwind and de-stress. Swedish massage is also known to decrease fatigue and reduce symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
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