What is Swedish/Circulatory Massage?
Swedish massage therapy is the most common type of massage. Its primary goal is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.
Additional Swedish massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during your Swedish massage session, communication is encouraged so that your massage is customized to your specific needs.
The Nudity Factor
During a Swedish massage you are generally nude (but feel free to keep your underwear on if it makes you more comfortable) underneath a towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the part of the body & drapes/covers the rest of your body with a sheet.
You typically start by laying face down with your head in a u-shaped face cradle so your spine stays neutral. The massage generally starts on your back, using long firm/gentle strokes. When finished with the back, the therapist works the back of each leg. Afterwards, the sheet is pulled up, like a tent (so your body is concealed under the sheet), but you can still turn over without wrapping the sheet around your body… turning you into a kind of human burrito.
Face up, the therapist then massages the front of each leg, arms, and generally finishes with your neck and shoulders. Depending on the client, a different order may be selected. You can ask to have more time on a specific area. If the pressure is too light or too firm, feel free to speak up and adjust the therapist as desired.
Why is it called Swedish Massage?
Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology as opposed to energy work that is more common in Asian-style massage. Both Swedish massage and physical therapy were pioneered by a Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839)at the University of Stockholm.
In the early 19th century he developed a system called "Medical Gymnastics" which included movements performed by a therapist. These became the known as "Swedish movements" in Europe and "the Swedish Movement Cure" when they came to the U.S. in 1858. Today it is simply known as Swedish massage.
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A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (published in The New York Times) found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.