Vessy Massage offer Mobile Swedish Massage throughout London – either in your home, office or a hotel room. Our masseuses are highly trained and very friendly and experienced, and can be with you within an hour.
We have prepared the following guide containing everything you need to know about Swedish Massage. If you have any questions or to book your massage now please call us on 0207 175 0081.
Why is it called Swedish Massage?
Swedish Massage is one of the most popular forms of massage in the world, however the UK is one of the few countries to actually call it “Swedish” – in most countries it is called “classic massage”, “traditional massage” or even simply “massage”.
The pioneer of the specific techniques used today in modern Swedish Massage was actually a Dutch doctor, Johann Georg Mezger, who refined and systematised the practice in the late 19th Century – giving the characteristic massage techniques French names!
The reason for the name “Swedish Massage” is because of the work of a Swedish physiologist called Pehr Henrik Ling, who developed and taught a system of “Medical Gymnastics” in the early 19th Century. He believed in the health giving and restorative powers of skillfully applied physical movements, and set up the Royal Central Gymnastic Institute in Stockholm to teach his “Swedish Gymnastic Movements”. This was subsequently popularised in the US as the “Swedish Movement Cure”, which eventually gave rise to the name “Swedish Massage” – however the distinctive massage techniques and terminology used today are not actually found in his gymnastics curriculum.
Why is Swedish Massage so popular in the UK?
Massage is popular mainly because it feels great and reduces your levels of physical and mental tension – even within a relatively short session. This is particularly true with Visiting (or Mobile) Massage sessions, where you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home or office.
Swedish Massage is the most popular form of massage because it provides deep enough pressure to help the muscles in your body relax, but without any of the passing discomfort that some people occasionally find with Deep Tissue Massage.
Swedish Massage is also the root of many different forms of massage and physical therapy today, including sports massage, deep tissue massage, aromatherapy, as well as chiropractic treatments and osteopathy.
Although Swedish Massage is sometimes referred to as a holistic or complementary therapy, in reality it is very much grounded in Western science – at it’s heart it is a very practical discipline rooted in a profound study of anatomy and physiology.
Swedish Massage operates purely at a physiological level, in contrast to some of the more mystical or spiritual Eastern massage systems – such as shiatsu, chinese medicine, accupuncture, etc – which attempt to manipulate the body’s ‘life force’ and improve ‘chi energy flow’.
What are the Benefits of Swedish Massage?
1. Swedish Massage Relaxes and Invigorates
The most obvious benefit is that it makes you feel relaxed and invigorated.
Many of us lead busy, stressful lives, and we accumulate tension in our bodies and minds. Massage rids the body of tension and rids the mind of anxiety and stress, creating a sense of well-being, freedom and calmness.
Touch is a fundamental form of human communication, instinctively used to soothe and comfort from birth. Some research even suggests massage can decrease specific stress hormone levels, such as cortisol.
This reduction in stress can offer symptomatic relief of stress-related conditions, IBS, insomnia, etc. You may even find massage gives an immediate boost to your mood, helping combat depression, raising your energy levels.
2. Swedish Massage Eases Aches, Pains and Knotted Muscles
Swedish Massage reduces the aches, pains and tightness associated with muscle spasms and knots. It is thought to help recovery from muscle strains, and can promote proper healing of scar tissue. Many people suffering from painful chronic conditions such as arthritis and sciatica note pain relief following a massage session – though if you have quite severe muscle tension you may benefit from choosing a Deep Tissue Massage.
Swedish Massage is helpful for people suffering from back pain, and in particular has been used in the treatment of trigger points – specific sore, irritable areas consisting of knots or nodules, commonly found in skeletal muscles or fascia.
3. Swedish Massage Relieves Joint Stiffness
Massage helps restore a fuller range of motion to stiff joints by relaxing and loosening up the muscles surrounding the joint. It is thought that massage can help improve function in osteoarthiritis.
Before Your Swedish Massage
The first step is to get the room set up correctly. Usually a table or bed will be used for the actual massage, since the spine needs to be in a relaxed, straightened position. The lighting should ideally be dimmed, and the room should be pleasantly warm (not too hot or too cold.) You may find peaceful music will help you unwind.
Most people strip to their underwear to receive a massage, since this provides the massage therapist with easy access to perform the massage. Only the part of your body being actively massaged will be exposed, with the rest of your body covered up by a sheet or towel in a process called ‘draping’.
Before receiving your massage your therapist will briefly discuss with you any particular tension, aches and pains, injuries or conditions that might be relevant – for example pregnancy or cancer. Generally massage is not really recommended if you are currently ill. Your therapist will be able to adapt your massage where appropriate – for example to avoid an injured area, or to focus on a particularly tense spot. During this conversation you can let your masseuse know whether you would like a soft or firm massage, though you can also give feedback about this during your massage itself.
During Your Swedish Massage
First of all your masseuse will usually apply gently warmed massage lotion or oil. This helps to reduce excessive friction so the pressure can be applied to your body in a smooth manner. An initial gentle warm-up helps you to begin to relax and start to release the tension in your body.
The sequence will vary depending on your particular masseuse and the type of massage you have chosen, but generally consists of massaging your back, the back of your legs, then (after you have turned over) the front of your legs, your arms, and finally your neck and shoulders.
Your massage therapist can focus more attention on problem areas if required, turning your classic massage more into a Deep Tissue style massage.
Remember – don’t be afraid to ask for more or less pressure during the massage.
Swedish Massage Techniques
There are traditionally five distinct techniques in Swedish Massage:
- Effleurage – long, smooth gliding movements
- Petrissage – lifting and kneading movements
- Tapotement – quick tapping and percussive movements
- Friction – deep, circular rubbing movements
- Vibration – quick vibrating and shaking movements
Effleurage (French: “skimming”)
Effleurage consists of long, smooth gliding movements, focused particularly on the limbs, shoulders and neck, applying pressure using thumbs and hands. Effleurage is one of the foundational techniques, generally taking place at the start and end of Swedish Massage sessions, as well as between other deeper techniques.
During Swedish Massage, Effleurage is performed in a continuous rhythmic pattern and the direction of pressure is generally always towards the heart in line with the direction of the venous valves. The forward stroke generally uses more pressure than the return stroke, and the return stroke generally traces a different path to the forward stroke.
Effleurage begins slowly and gently, but can gradually build up to slightly more vigorous strokes with deeper penetration later on. It helps to relax the muscles before and after deeper massage techniques, while it helps your massage therapist to assess the condition of your muscles and tissues. For both of these reasons the initial Effleurage part of your massage should not be rushed.
Effleurage pressure usually directs blood and lymphatic flow in the direction of the heart, so as not to apply undue pressure to the closed valves in the veins.
Petrissage (French: “kneading”)
Petrissage consists of compressing, lifting, squeezing, picking up, rolling, wringing and kneading movements, focused particularly on the underlying muscles, applying pressure using finger and thumbs, palm or knuckles.
Petrissage is a deeper technique which works the underlying muscles and fascia, so needs to be carried out after initial Effleurage for best results. Because it is a little deeper it can help relieve muscle knots, and is an important part of Deep Tissue Massage. In contrast with Effleurage, Petrissage tends to be slow and rhythmic throughout, just increasing in pressure later on.
There are a variety of kneading techniques available depending on whether the particular area of the body being manipulated is flat or rounded, as well as on the required depth. Kneading may be carried out with anything from fingers and thumbs to knuckles or even elbows, and each area of the body is kneaded several times before the therapist moves on to the next area.
Friction (French: “rubbing”)
In Swedish Massage, Friction refers to deep, circular rubbing movements, focused particularly on knots present in muscles, applying pressure using thumbs and finger tips.
Friction targets the underlying tissues rather than just the superficial layers, and so is particularly good at helping to break down small knots and areas of muscular tightness that build up in the body over time. Because of this, Friction is often used on specific problem areas such as the neck and shoulders, or adhesions / scar tissue.
Tapotement (French: “tapping”)
Tapotement Massage refers to quick tapping and percussive movements, involving beating, tapping, slapping, plucking, cupping or hacking – performed with closed fists, finger tips or the edge of the hand. Because this form of massage can be more vigorous, care needs be taken with more sensitive or boney areas of the body.
Tapotement is regarded as a more invigorating movement (compared to a relaxing movement like Effleurage), and because of this revitalising effect it is often associated with Sports Massage for elite athletes.
One of the most common types of Tapotement in Swedish Massage is called ‘hacking’, which is typically performed at the end of a session by rapidly striking the body with the edge of the hands, usually one hand after the other.
In Swedish Massage, Vibration includes both quick vibrating and shaking movements, using either small-scale gentle rocking movements or large-scale vigorous jostling movements. Therefore Vibration can be either relaxing or invigorating depending on the pressure and speed employed.
The benefits of Vibration Massage include the loosening up of joint ligaments and muscles as well as increasing circulation. According to ‘gate control theory’, Vibration Massage may help provide a degree of symptomatic relief from chronic pain because of its direct stimulation of the nervous system.
After Your Massage
After your massage you may feel an overall feeling of happiness and increased well-being – this is a common result of the relaxing and invigorating techniques involved in Swedish Massage, and is probably the main reason why people keep coming back for more.
Booking Your Next Massage
Since a massage is such an enjoyable experience, it can really help you to get through stressful periods in your work or home life knowing that you have a nice, long, relaxing massage to look forward to.
This is why many people like to book in their next massage as soon as their massage is complete, before life’s stresses rear their ugly head and you forget to get around to it – otherwise before you know it 3 stressful months have passed, you’re stomping around like a bear with a sore head, and your shoulders are up at your ears!
Why not give us a call today on 0207 175 0081 to find out more about the generous discounts available when you book a block of Mobile Swedish Massages with Vessy Massage.