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Swedish massage

3-minute read

Key facts

  • Swedish massage is one of the most common types of massage therapy.
  • It's often used to relax you, relieve stress and relieve pain.
  • Swedish massage often involves rubbing, kneading, stroking and tapping your muscles.
  • If you want to try Swedish massage, talk to your doctor first.

What is Swedish massage?

Swedish massage is one of the most popular forms of massage therapy. It's usually used to:

  • help people to relax
  • release tension from your muscles
  • improve your joint range of motion

The techniques used in Swedish massage are usually designed to help blood return to your heart. This helps to improve your circulation (blood flow).

What does a Swedish massage involve?

Swedish massage involves:

  • rubbing and kneading your muscles
  • placing pressure on your muscles and bones
  • compression and vibration of your muscles
  • tapping your muscles
  • moving your joints

The most common strokes used during a Swedish massage are:

  • effleurage — the use of long, gliding strokes on your limbs, head and along your spine
  • petrissage — strong strokes on your back and shoulders

Before your massage begins, your massage therapist will talk to you about your health and lifestyle.

Usually, they will ask you to lie on a specially designed massage table. If you want to keep any part of your body covered, it can be covered with a towel.

Your massage therapist may use oils to help massage your skin smoothly and relax you.

What are 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:

Swedish massage can also be used to help people cope better with:

If you plan to use Swedish massage for any health condition, you should talk to your doctor first.

If you want to have a massage to help with an injury or problem, talk to your doctor about a sports or remedial massage.

Resources and support

You can visit healthdirect's massage therapy guide to:

  • learn more about different types of massage
  • get advice on choosing a massage therapist

Use healthdirect's free service finder to locate your nearest health service. You can search for health services such as:

You can find a qualified massage therapist using the Australian Massage Directory through Massage & Myotherapy Australia (Australian Association of Massage Therapists).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2023

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