Massage Techniques: Swedish Massage Therapy

massage-techniques-swedish-massageSwedish massage is a widely practiced and popular massage therapy technique in the United States. This form of bodywork aims to improve blood circulation to the heart, among other positive health perks. As part of a Swedish massage session, a therapist will use the hands, forearms and elbows to manipulate a client's muscles using long, gliding strokes. Other techniques that may also be used include kneading, tapping, applying a circular pressure and stretching.

The benefits provided 

Swedish massage can help alleviate many health conditions, in addition to providing totally relaxing experience. The technique can help the following:

  • Circulatory and respiratory disorders
  • Back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Migraines and other headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Joint pain
  • Stress and anxiety

Specific techniques used

Swedish massage therapy uses many variations and techniques for therapeutic benefit and overall wellness. Learn about the various strokes used by therapists while performing Swedish massage techniques:

Effleurage: Involves using gliding strokes from the neck to the base of the spine or from the shoulder to the fingertips. Strokes done on the limbs are directed towards the heart to improve lymphatic flow and blood circulation.

Petrissage: Uses rolling, pressing and squeezing motions on the muscles to enhance circulation. Petrissage cleanses toxins from nerve and muscle tissue through kneading and compression.

Friction: Consists of circular or transverse movements near the joints, alongside the spine and in other bony areas. Increases muscle and joint flexibility and breaks down muscle fiber knots.

Tapotement: Uses a series of percussive movements to tap or strike the muscles to invigorate and reduce muscle spasms.

Vibration or Shaking: Consists of the therapist rapidly shaking hands on the limbs or back to boost circulation; often utilized for the treatment of low back pain.

Settings found

In spa settings, Swedish massage is one of the most requested therapies and treatments. Comprehensive spa packages often combine Swedish massage with other spa services, such as body scrubs, wraps and facials. Massage therapists who receive their foundational education in massage school often have additional training in spa treatments if they pursue a career in spa therapy.

Many massage therapists who decide to embark on a career in spa therapy find that they thrive in the industry if they have a passion for learning new skills and techniques to add to their basic massage training. Learning these additional skills can also expand work opportunities. Like other areas of massage therapy, the demand for qualified spa therapists continues to grow.

Training needed

The Acupuncture and Massage College’s Massage Therapy program includes classes in Swedish massage therapy, along with a certification in Shiatsu massage. The program covers topics like: the theory of massage, classical techniques, professionalism in treatment, and indications and contraindications of massage treatment.

Clinical assessment techniques, postural analysis, as well as exercise and stretch techniques are taught. These techniques assist students in developing a strong background in the healing applications of massage therapy. An introduction to various massage therapy modalities is presented, and instructors supervise clinical practicum.

For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs you can email our admissions department


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