After working for more than 40 hours a week, the weekend finally arrives, and you have booked your appointment at the spa. All you want is to alleviate muscle pain and enjoy a relaxing massage.
But, wait, the lady at the reception asks you about your choice of massage, and you are confused between Swedish massage, Thai massage, or perhaps a deep tissue massage.
Don’t worry; we all have been through the same situation. That’s why this article presents some interesting facts about Swedish massage and its therapeutic benefits to the body.
Everything About Swedish Massage
Before discussing the effects and techniques of Swedish massage, let’s unveil some exciting facts about this relaxing massage.
First, you’ll be surprised to know that the name Swedish massage didn’t originate in Sweden; instead, it’s known as a classic massage over there. It’s known as the Swedish massage only in the United States. In 1812, Pehr Henrik Ling, a Swedish medical gymnastic practitioner, invented the Swedish massage techniques.
Second, this comprehensive massage involves using hands, pliers, or elbows to target the deep muscle tissues, thus improving body and mind wellness. Consequently, it creates a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system.
Massage Techniques in a Swedish Massage
The massage therapist uses the following five massage techniques in a Swedish massage:
- Pounding or tapping
- Stroking and gliding
Kneading is quite effective in increasing the blood flow throughout the body, while the rubbing or friction offers a counter-effect of decreasing the circulation. Both the techniques complement one another to ensure a relaxing and therapeutic massage.
We all know that most spas usually do the kneading technique first, allowing the body to achieve the ultimate relaxation afterward.
One of the most distinctive features of Swedish massage that allows it to stand out among the other massage techniques is the rhythm and pressure to trigger essential spots in the shoulders, back, and throat.
The first step in a Swedish massage is to lubricate the skin using essential massage oils and proceed with gentle massage strokes. The primary purpose of the initial gentle strokes is to warm up the muscles before kneading and applying more pressure.
Furthermore, the massage therapist synchronizes the action with your breathing pattern to calm your mind and body and release stress from the muscles.
The friction strokes are the deepest movement near the muscle insertions and joints to remove the muscle knots, alleviate pain, and improve muscle flexibility.
The gliding or effleurage strokes start from the neck or shoulder and move down the spine and all the way to the toes. The petrissage strokes dig deeper into the muscles and separate them from the bone.
This way, the masseuse compresses and kneads the muscle to enhance blood circulation and removes the toxins. Lastly, the masseuse pounds or taps the muscles rhythmically to reduce muscle tension.
To sum up, a Swedish massage is a full-body massage that targets all the body’s major muscle groups.
Benefits of Swedish Massage
By the end of this section, you’ll probably be booking a Swedish massage for next weekend.
It’s Time to Destress
Whether physical or mental, stress has a negative effect on our mood and, of course, state of mind. The ultimate goal of a Swedish massage is to offer relaxation by calming down the nerves and removing the tension from your body and mind.
This way, the massage minimizes the production of a major stress hormone - cortisol. If you want to lower the response of your body and mind to stress, you must go for a Swedish massage.
Let’s Improve Muscle Flexibility
Gliding strokes are an integral part of a Swedish massage that minimizes muscle tension by elongating them. As a result, you can improve muscle and joint flexibility with an increase in range of motion.
Furthermore, a Swedish massage can assist in improving your posture. Overworked muscles or prolonged sitting in one position for a longer time leads to an imbalance in the posture.
Not to Forget the Blood Circulation
One of the most significant benefits of Swedish massage is better blood flow and circulation. You must be wondering how that is possible—the massage assists in widening the blood vessels and stimulates the blood circulatory system.
Therefore, the widened blood vessels allow fresh blood to flow to the muscles and organs.
Improved blood circulation leads to better nutrients supply, and we all know that muscles heavily depend on the nutrients supply for endurance and development.
Moreover, poor blood circulation can lead to severe headaches or migraines. Therefore, this kind of deep tissue massage can relieve the tension or stress headache as it improves blood flow.
Your Lower Back Requires Attention
Around 80 percent of adults face lower back pain at least once during their lifetime. It’s primarily because of our long sitting hours in offices. However, our lower back offers support to our body and core. That’s why it’s necessary to book your appointment for a Swedish massage once a month to reduce lower back pain.
A research study shows that a Swedish massage is relatively effective in alleviating lower back pain.
Furthermore, if you have arthritis, a Swedish massage can assist in managing the pain by targeting the pain points to reduce muscle tension.
Positive Effects on Immune System
According to a study, Swedish massage can improve the immune system by increasing oxytocin levels (OT) and the overall production of white blood cells.
We are all aware that white blood cells play a significant role in strengthening the immune system by fighting bacteria and viruses.
End Goal - Improved Mental and Physical Health
Any kind of stress, whether mental or physical, leads to a weak immune system. Swedish massage is an ultimate therapeutic massage that reduces the stress hormone levels. On the other hand, it increases the serotonin and dopamine hormones that improve our mood and aid better sleep.
You improve your physical health and your emotional well-being by taking one session of a Swedish massage. It’s just like killing two birds with one stone.
Any Side Effects of Swedish Massage?
No, not really. However, you should know that a Swedish massage involves soft rubbing, tapping, and kneading of the muscle tissues, which may cause slight soreness and bruises. However, you won’t feel any severe pain.
It’s very rare to experience nausea that happens due to the toxin drainage from your body.
Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage
A deep tissue massage, as the name suggests, targets the deep muscle layers and connective tissues. Swedish and deep tissue massage certainly have some common techniques; however, the movements are relatively slower while the pressure is stronger in a deep tissue massage.
Lucky for you, you can enjoy a deep tissue massage in your home using advanced therapy guns, such as the ExoGun DreamPro. These latest percussion therapy guns significantly improve muscle recovery time and reduce fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
A deep tissue massage can make you feel sore for a day or two because the body releases the lactic acid during the massage session. That’s why you must drink enough water to flush out toxins from the body.
You must be wondering when to go for a deep tissue massage session. If you have chronic pain or want to recover from extensive exercise or training, it’s better to go for a deep tissue massage. Furthermore, you can invest in buying the ExoGun therapy device if you are recovering from an injury and can’t go to a spa.
The primary purpose of a deep tissue massage is to reach the deep muscle tissues, and that can only be done when the therapist applies more pressure using fingers, elbows, and fists. Hence, the massage heals the muscles, improves blood flow, and minimizes inflammation.
To sum up, a deep tissue massage is suitable for runners, athletes, or people with injuries.
Swedish Massage vs Thai Massage
A Thai massage is also known as ‘lazy yoga’ and works on the same massage principles as the Swedish massage. However, Thai massage blocks the blood flow for 30 seconds and releases it by applying sustained pressure to stimulate the acupressure points.
A Swedish massage requires you to either lay on your stomach or back during the session; however, a Thai massage includes multiple positions, which may be uncomfortable for certain people.
Furthermore, the stretching technique is an integral part of Thai massage in which the therapist applies pressure on different trigger points of the body.
The massage therapist uses hands, feet, and knees to target different body muscles. It may seem scary at first, but it’s certainly not dangerous.
A Thai massage is usually longer because it requires many different positions to reach all the body muscles.
After reading the above article, you know exactly which massage to select during your next spa appointment. A Swedish massage does not just target your body muscles that require relaxation but also your nervous system.
Therefore, this massage is an all-rounder massage technique that alleviates muscle tension, cramps and reduces anxiety and stress. You can find this option in any spa and it doesn’t always cost a lot.