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Swedish massage

2-minute read

Swedish massage is one of the most popular forms of massage therapy. It can help you relax, give you more energy, and may help after an injury.

What is Swedish massage?

Swedish massage involves long, kneading strokes combined with rhythmic tapping strokes and movement of the joints.

This type of massage targets the uppermost layer of muscles and aims to relieve muscle tension.

What does a Swedish massage involve?

Before the massage begins, your therapist will talk to you about your health and lifestyle. They will ask you to lie on a specially-designed massage table and will cover you with towels to protect your privacy and to keep you warm. They will probably use creams or oils to help them to massage your skin smoothly.

The four most common strokes used in Swedish massage are:

  • Effleurage: smooth, gliding strokes to relax soft tissue
  • Petrissage: squeezing, rolling, or kneading
  • Friction: deep, circular movements to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
  • Tapotement: tapping with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand

The health benefits of Swedish massage

Many people use Swedish massage just to relax. It can also be used to help with physical conditions and has been shown to help relieve pain, stress and muscle tension. Sportspeople may have a Swedish massage before they compete to help them perform at their best.

Swedish massage can also be used to help people cope better with illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stomach problems, fibromyalgia and lower back pain. If you plan to use Swedish massage for any health condition, talk to your doctor first.

More information

Visit healthdirect's massage therapy guide to learn about some of the different types of massage available and to help you to choose a massage therapist.

Massage therapy is generally considered safe if it is done properly by a trained professional. Contact Massage & Myotherapy Australia (Australian Association of Massage Therapists) on 1300 138 872 for more information.

Last reviewed: August 2017

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