What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is usually what people in the western world are referring to when they say they got a massage. The focus of Swedish massage is on anatomy and physiology, as opposed to Asian massage techniques that focus on lines of energy that flow through the body. A Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling, is credited for developing a system of medical gymnastics that later evolved into what we know today as Swedish massage.

What Is the Difference Between Swedish and Other Types of Massage?

Each type of massage has a fundamentally different ideology that influences how the massage is performed. These differences are large enough that some people can have different results depending on which type they get.

Swedish massage has an emphasis on physiology with a specialization in releasing knots, tension, and pain through a variety of different techniques. Some of these techniques include:

  • Kneading
  • Friction
  • Effleurage
  • Stretching
  • Tapping
  • and more

The massage therapist can also adjust the intensity of the massage from gentle to grueling at the request of the client. Swedish massage also allows the client to focus on massaging particular parts of the body that need more relief.

While there is a wide variety of massage techniques that licensed therapists can use, Swedish massage is one of the most popular. Other techniques may utilize stretching, pulling, or manipulating the muscles rather than rubbing or massaging them. Massage therapists can even restrict blood flow to some parts of the body to release pressure, then allow the blood to rush back into the body part.

Which Type of Massage Is Right for Me?

The short answer is that it depends! You need to be sure to pick a massage that is right for your body and what your body needs. There’s massage modalities that are excellent for increasing flexibility and circulation, while Swedish massages take special care to alleviate specific pain points in the body.

Another thing to consider is your personal comfort level with things like massage oils and nudity. In a Swedish massage, the client is usually nude and covered in a massage sheet or towel. Clients can also choose to keep their underwear on if they are nervous during their first few visits. The massage therapist only reveals the part of the client they are working on, and these massages are performed in private. Modesty is always preserved for the client. The nudity is required in order to use the massage oils that traditionally come with a Swedish massage.

If you are uncomfortable with the nudity involved in a typical Swedish massage, or your skin could react negatively to the massage oils, consider trying a different type of massage. Some massages are performed while the client is fully clothed and does not use any massage oils. There are some massages that are often performed in rooms with space for multiple people to be massaged at the same time. Just talk to your therapist to learn more about the massage that will be most beneficial and comfortable for you.

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