By Anna Lynn Sibal
Swedish massage photo © Johnny Lye
Most of us experience stress in varying levels on a day-to-day basis. Stress is not good for the health because it makes our muscles tense and bunch up, causing pain. Also, it makes the organs of our body function under duress. That is never good.
Massage is meant to alleviate pain and enhance the body's health.
Swedish massage is considered to be among the most basic methods of massage and is among the first styles of massage that new masseurs get to study. Developed by Henrik Ling in Sweden in the 1700s, Swedish massage is particularly to allow the body to absorb more oxygen, thereby rejuvenating the body. Swedish massage is also geared towards detoxification by increasing the speed by which the cells of the body eliminate their waste materials.
But more than these, Swedish massage brings to the receiver an immense feeling of satisfaction and relaxation.
There are six techniques used in administering Swedish massage. These techniques are the following:
1. Effleurage. Effleurage is the technique most people associate with massage in general and Swedish massage in particular. In doing effleurage, the masseuse makes use of long and sweeping strokes that cover more than just one area of the body. Though it makes the client feel like his muscles are being broken down, the purpose of effleurage is actually to connect one part of the body to the others.
2. Friction. Heat makes the muscles relax and friction is used to make the area to be treated warm up. A masseuse would make use of the friction technique by rubbing the palms of her hands vigorously on the surface of the client’s skin. She can also do this by rubbing her palms together and then laying them on the skin of the client.
3. Petrissage. Petrissage is the act of kneading and squeezing the muscles of the body. Petrissage does not target or focus on any particular part of the body, but the process of kneading the body’s muscles allows for deeper and more penetrating effects of massage.
4. Tapottement. Tapottement are strokes that aim to energize the area of the body that the masseuse is treating. This is done by chopping the area with the sides of the hands. It can also be done by hitting the area being treated rhythmically with cupped or fisted hands. Tapottement is aimed towards energizing the area being treated, yet at the same time making it loosened and relaxed.
5. Traction. Traction involves pulling at the arms and legs of the client, and sometimes also the head. The act of pulling stretches the muscles of the client. Traction is always done as part of the last portion of the massage routine because pulling needs to have the muscles relaxed; otherwise, it would hurt.
6. Vibration. The vibration technique is used by the masseuse to shake up the area of the client’s body that she is treating. This is done by moving the heel of the hand, or sometimes the side of the hand, or even the fingertips, forward and backward across the skin to loosen the muscles of that particular area.