Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage therapy. The types of massage movements used in a Swedish massage make up the core base for most the techniques you will come across.
Swedish massage is very effective in releasing those aches and pains in the muscles. Reducing stress, relaxing the mind and body, and really giving the client an all-round deep sense of relaxation.
Oil or lotion will almost always be used to help the strokes and movements flow better. The therapist will decide when and which movements they use. This will often depend on the requirements of the client.
A therapy session will typically open up with broad, light strokes to warm up the client. Moving on to more specific strokes with firmer pressure as required. It’s the most popular form of massage therapy for good reason. It’s incredibly effective, and for good reason.
There are five basic strokes that make up the bulk of the movements used in the massage. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail and how they make this type of massage so effective.
Types of Massage Movements in Swedish Massage
Effleurage movements are characterized by long, sweeping, gliding strokes. The therapist will use both hands. As well as using their closed fists and forearms to add pressure to the muscles.
They will typically open up with these types of movement. They are ideal for spreading the lotion over the body and building up a the movement to be more fluid.
Pressure can be applied to stretch the muscles and workout knots and pains in the muscles. This is very relaxing for the client and feels great. There is a lot of versatility to these strokes.
Petrissage movements and techniques include rolling, kneading, lifting and wringing. There can be quite a lot of pressure applied to get a deep compress of the underlying muscles.
The therapist will use their finger and thumbs to pick-and-squeeze the skin. Along with the surface of palm to carry out the longer strokes across the body.
Scissoring is a less common movement that is used on flat areas of the body with light pressure. It’s how it sounds, a scissoring motion is used to lift and release the surface of the skin.
Friction movements are strokes designed to generate heat by method of faster sweeping movements. This is done to prepare the muscles for deep-tissue work to resolve those knots and pains deeper in the muscles.
This also stimulates nerve endings and increases the flow of blood to the areas being worked on. Giving the client a simulated natural healing process for days to follow.
Both small circular movements and longer rubbing motions are used depending on the work needed on the client. In combination with therapeutic oils it’s a very rejuvenating process.
Tapotement movements are the most rhythmical of the movements utilized during a Swedish massage. The edge of the hands, or cupped hands are typically used.
The purpose here is to stimulate the nerves, muscles and get that blood circulation increased. It’s normal for the client to feel ‘flushed’ as the blood flow increases to the area being worked on.
These are techniques used in Shiatsu therapy. This is often the last technique used before the client changes position.
Vibration movements are shaking, rocking, and trembling movements that form a vibration. The therapist uses their heel on their hands, as well as the fingertips to make a quick drumming type motion.
Vibration massage is commonplace in sports massage to prepare athletes for competition. It’s very effective at increasing circulation which increases the speed that muscles recover from working out.
The movements can be either slow or rapid. The tissues are broken down, and the postural holding patterns are also broken down to release tension.
Video Demonstrating Some Swedish Massage Movements and Techniques
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.