Swedish Massage

Massage has been around for many centuries, however the modern techniques used in Swedish massage today were developed in the early 18th century by Per Henrik Ling. He was a fencing master from Sweden, who is credited with devising the Swedish Movement System. His systems were simplified in the late 18th century by Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch masseur, who introduced the names for the four different strokes that are still used today. Massage itself can be described as the application of appropriate pressure on the soft tissues of the body by a series of specific movements and techniques.

The techniques involved are known as Effleurage, Friction, Petrissage and Tapotement, each stroke promoting a different reaction in the body.

Effleurage - is a long gliding stroke performed with the palmer surface of the hands and fingers. It is used initially to spread the oil, then to warm up the muscles, allowing you to get used to the therapist's touch.

It helps to relieve congestion in the tissues and sooth the nerves. Effleurage is used at the beginning of the massage and throughout to link the other techniques into a fluid and relaxing routine.

Friction - uses small circular movements of the thumbs or the tips of the fingers and elbows to help to break up any scar tissue/adhesions that may have formed due to an injury. Any waste products released during this process are then more readily absorbed into the blood and lymphatic system for disposal. Friction can also be used on recent injuries to help direct the formation of new scar tissue, allowing the injury to heal more cleanly and limit the loss of range of movement.

Petrissage - is a kneading technique, used on relaxed muscles, which can be subdivided into picking up, squeezing, rolling and wringing. These movements are usually applied to the larger muscles and are good for improving muscle tone, stimulating the nerves, improving circulation, waste removal deep in the muscle tissue and breaking up adhesions. It is more of a cleansing movement.

Tapotement - is a percussive massage technique which can also be subdivided into several types. These are cupping, hacking, flicking, beating and pounding, and flailing. Different parts of the hand are used to create these movements with varying degrees of intensity. Percussion strokes are very stimulating, which is good for out of tone/wasted muscle. Cupping over the back area can help to relieve congestion in the lungs by loosening any mucus there. This style of massage should never be performed over boney areas, where there is inflammation, or where the aim of the massage is relaxation. Usually performed at the end of a sequence to reinvigorate previously relaxed muscles.


Swedish massage uses these techniques to enhance the circulation of blood and lymph around the body, stretch muscles, fascia, ligaments and tendons. It can also help to promote a feeling of well being and relaxation.


Please see What to expect and Benefits of massage for more information.

Restrictions (or Contraindications) to a massage -

As well as the many benefits to a massage, there are unfortunately some restrictions. These can either be localised, which can be worked around, or systemic, which would prevent the massage being carried out all together. If you are in any doubt as to whether you can have a massage treatment please email me with a note of any current/past illnesses and a list of medicines you are taking. I will then get back to you with advice regarding the suitability of a massage and a treatment plan if required.