The Ultimate Guide To Swedish Massage Techniques

The Ultimate Guide To Swedish Massage Techniques is a small piece of content that wants to help you better understand why Swedish massage is a great way to relax right in the comfort of your own home and has become a standard in the massage industry over the years. If you are looking for a good therapist to come directly to your home or office, then please check our Swedish massage treatments page.


If you have questions like Where did this type of massage originate? What should you expect when you get a massage? And what is swedish massage? We will try to answer all of this plus many more related questions you might have in this guide.

First, let’s find out where Swedish massage originated. If you’re thinking of Sweden, then you’re right.

The History Behind Swedish Massage

Swedish massage was invented in the 1830s by a Swedish fencing instructor called Per Henrik Ling suffered from a number of illnesses, including rheumatics, lung disease, and arthritis. Ling wanted to pursue fencing, so he could improve his health and ease his chronic pain. He soon realized that fencing alone wasn’t enough to relieve him of his pain.

So he developed a program called “medical gymnastics.” He reportedly cured his elbow injuries by using percussion strokes around the affected area Later, he developed the technique now known as Swedish massage.

This technique was brought from Sweden to the United States by two brothers, Drs. Charles and Dr. George Taylor in the 1850s. Involves the application of long glancing strokes, friction, kneading and tapping motions on the soft tissues of your body. Passive or active joint movements are sometimes used as well.

Ling was considered the father of Swedish massage because he combined his knowledge of gymnastics and physiology from Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures to create a technique or a system of physical rehabilitation.

what is swedish massage

What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is a type of bodywork therapy that works the soft tissues of the body to help restore health. It creates a calming and balancing effect for the nervous system. Most people picture a traditional Swedish massage when they think of a whole-body massage. Swedish massage is the basis for many types of massage therapies. Swedish massage moves help warm up muscles, release tension, and break up muscle knots Swedish massage combines these moves with joint movement to relax the body and energize the body at the same time.

In a Swedish massage it is important to note that five main types of techniques are used as stroking and gliding kneading; rubbing; tapping or pounding; vibration

health benefits swedish massage

What are the benefits of swedish massage?

Swedish full body massage is known for a huge number of benefits related to the correct use of the above techniques.  The experience of the therapist in the correct application of these techniques is important because this massage brings visible therapeutic benefits to both the mind and the body. Thus, choosing the right therapist for a Swedish massage session is essential in order to give you a wonderful and unique experience.

Physical Benefits of Swedish Massage

Some of the physical benefits of a Swedish massage include:

  • Lymphatic drainage massage
  • Improved circulation
  • Ease of muscle tension
  • Increased oxygen levels in the blood
  • Improved flexibility

Mental Benefits of Swedish Massage

Some of the mental benefits of having this technique performed include:

  • Relaxes the client
  • Decreases cortisol levels
  • Helps in reducing anxiety and stress
  • Allows the client to feel rejuvenated

Unlike drug therapy, which often brings general long-term side effects, Swedish massage therapy is safe and without any contraindications. 

Increases Flexibility and Posture

This massage technique elongates the muscles, decreases swelling and quickens the healing process. As a result, your body can move freely. After several treatments, you may also notice a straighter posture as this technique helps to ease any muscular tension that creates poor alignment.

A Swedish massage will also broaden the range of motion and flexibility, as it’ll allow you to attain certain exercises and stretches.

Recovering From a Minor Injury

With this type of massage, muscles are stretched, the healing process is accelerated and swelling is considerably reduced. As a result, the body will feel relaxed and can move freely.
Many clients have rightly noticed that their body posture is straighter, as Swedish massage has been proven to help relieve any muscle tension that can lead to uneven posture. 
Swedish massage also results in better flexibility because it will allow you to perform certain exercises and stretches more easily.

Regulating the Tonus of the Nervous System

Thanks to the different techniques used, the nervous system can be stimulated in different parts of the body with varying intensities of applied pressure.
Repetitive and intermittent techniques positively stimulate the nervous system, vitalising it and which will help relieve pain.

Reduce Stress and Ease Depression

We all know the negative effects of stress on our health. Many of us live demanding lives, both overscheduled and over-worked. Stress can manifest in the body with increased muscle tension and sometimes pain.

Stress can also manifest in the mind with increased worry or anxiety. Swedish Massages help to clear the body and mind of unwanted responses to stress by calming the nervous system and relaxing muscular tension.

When we are stressed, our body accumulates cortisol, and in the long run, our health can suffer from a weakened immune system, cardiovascular problems, weight gain and kidney problems. Swedish massage will guarantee you complete relaxation as the cortisol in your body decreases. So, you will feel happier and in a generally good mood.

Enhancing Blood Circulation and Stimulating Lymphatic System

Good blood flow circulation in the body is vital as it carries nutrients and removes toxins. Swedish massage has been shown to improve blood pressure. The same is true for lymphatic drainage. It is necessary for detoxifying the body and occurs naturally when we do sport or lead an active life. But what happens when we are sedentary? Sedentary lifestyles lead among other things to an accumulation of toxins, which blocks nutrients and induces the accumulation of lymph fluid. Swedish massage helps to fight these toxins and cleanse the body. 

Improve Sleep

Serotonin is a vital element for healthy sleep because it helps us to fall asleep more easily and to stay asleep. Healthy sleep also means better health. A Swedish massage in the afternoon or evening at home will help considerably in regulating sleep problems.

Increases Overall Energy

If you need more energy obtained in a natural way, then this type of massage leads to decreased stress and increased circulation resulting in an overall increase in energy.

Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage

Swedish massage vs. deep tissue massage: What’s the difference?

Many of our therapists who offer Swedish massage to our clients have repeatedly told us that they are asked by clients what the difference is between Swedish massage and deep tissue massage.  We will try to explain below what the most important differences between these massage types are.

The main difference between Swedish massage and deep tissue massage is the amount of pressure applied by the therapist.  In deep tissue massage, firm pressure is used more than in Swedish massage. 

In Swedish massage long strokes and less pressure are used to achieve relaxation. The technique used in deep tissue massage is a more vigorous one that aims to release tension deep within the muscles and connective tissues.

As Swedish massage is the basis for many deep tissue techniques, the two therapies share many similarities. There are also some key differences that may help a person decide which method will be best for them.  Because these types of massage are similar, we advise our clients to start with a Swedish massage session first, as it is softer. This will make it easier to decide which type of massage is right for your needs.

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the 5 swedish massage tehniques therapist

Swedish massage techniques /Strokes

Swedish Massage is a massage therapy method that utilizes five primary Swedish massage techniques for healing. 

These are the Swedish massage full body techniques:

  • Effleurage: gentle stroking with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips
  • Petrissage: kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers
  • Tapotement/Rhythmic tapping: light slaps or karate-style chops
  • Friction: circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers
  • Vibration/Shaking: oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body


All the techniques below will be developed and discussed in more detail in another article. Any type of Swedish massage begins with a set of stroking movements called Effleurage. These movements are fluid, circular and long and are directed (most of the time) towards the heart to stimulate blood circulation.  Depending on the patient’s needs, the amount of pressure applied differs.  This technique comes with a number of three approaches as well:

  1. Feather or Nerve Stroking: This movement is the most gentle of all and consists of applying gentle pressure with the fingertips on the surface of the body.
  2. Superficial Effleurage: This is the most commonly used approach and is used at the beginning of the massage session to apply oil and warm the muscles. Superficial Effleurage: This is the most commonly used approach and is used at the beginning of the massage session to apply massage oil and warm the muscles.  The strokes are performed by applying pressure with an open palm.
  3. Deeper Effleurage: This technique uses more pressure on specific areas of the body, especially intense areas.

In other words, through the Effleurage technique, the therapist will have a “conversation” with your muscles and connective tissue.


All the techniques below will be developed and discussed in more detail in another article. Any type of Swedish massage begins with a set of stroking movements called Effleurage. These movements are fluid, circular and long and are directed (most of the time) towards the heart to stimulate blood circulation.  Depending on the patient’s needs, the amount of pressure applied differs.  This technique comes with a number three approaches as well:

  1. Kneading: This is the most popular of the approaches and resembles the movements made by a baker when kneading dough.
  2. Squeezing: Starts by pressing the soft tissue area against a basic structure such as bones, before being lifted, rolled and then squeezed.
  3. Rolling: This is applied to either the skin or muscle fibres.
  4.  Lifting (Pick up and Squeeze): This approach uses the thumb and middle fingers to lift and squeeze.

The kneading strokes will stimulate the movement of cellular fluids by creating a space between the myofascial deeper layers and the “ground substance” (a gel-like substance).

The Petrissage technique is successfully used for:

  • a good circulation of adipose tissue
  • stimulation of circulation
  • stimulation of synovial fluid


So, after the therapist has applied effleurage and petrissage techniques, he will move on to a more stimulating technique called tapotement. Tapotement comes from another French word meaning to beat the drum.

The therapist will not beat the drum but instead will apply rhythmic, stimulating movements to the patient’s body. These movements will stimulate the flow of blood, and endorphins in the body but will also help in draining lymph accumulations.

Let’s see what approaches are available to the therapist:

  • Beating or Hammering: using a closed fist to apply pressure to larger areas such as the back.
  • Slapping: Using the palms, gently slap the affected area.
  • Hacking: applied to small areas of the body by applying firm force with the edges of the hands.
  • Tapping: Used to treat patients with special needs by tapping rapidly with the fingertips.
  • Cupping: Applying force to a large area using a cup.


Rubbing is a Swedish massage technique that focuses on a specific area and uses only the fingers or thumbs. The pressure can be applied in a circular or perpendicular rhythm and aims to penetrate deep tissue. It is recommended for use in remodelling scar tissue and softening adhesions.


The last technique of Swedish massage is the vibration technique, and as the name suggests, certain areas of the body are shaken in order to loosen and relax that area.

It is a very effective technique for soothing nerves and treating an area with a lot of scar tissue. 

swedish massage tehniques strokes

What does a Swedish full body massage include?

A typical Swedish or aromatherapy massage usually lasts between 40 minutes for a shorter back neck and shoulders version and 90 minutes for the whole body, including the back, arms and legs. 

Your therapist may use a variety of techniques, such as rolling and kneading the skin with a subtle sweeping action that could make you nod off on the massage couch. Go with it! Catching 40-winks during treatment can really enhance the benefits of your treatment. In the full-body Swedish massage, your therapist will usually start by massaging your back and neck, then the legs, arms, hands and sometimes the feet. This massage sometimes includes a relaxing head massage (also known as a scalp massage, Indian head massage or Champissage).

A Swedish massage session involves massaging specific areas of the body or the whole body with long, gentle stroking movements. It lasts between 40 minutes for the back, neck and shoulders and 90 minutes for the whole body, including arms, legs and back.

Some therapists prefer to play music during a Swedish massage session, as it can help you relax. It is important for both the therapist and you to discuss all the details at the beginning for a relaxing and beneficial massage session. 

The same goes for conversations during the massage session. Whatever you choose, it’s important for you to take the time to relax and enjoy the feeling as every muscle in your body is gently stretched and kneaded.

It is your choice how you want your relaxing moment to go.

deluxe good Swedish massage therapists London near me

Where to find good Swedish massage therapists in London?

Life in a big, crazy city like London can be quite tense and tiring. Even if during a day we find a little time to ourselves for sport, fun or even a little quiet, we still have strained muscles, tired legs and need a little more relaxation. 

Good news. Swedish massage is one of the most popular types of massage in the world and is a great way to relax and unwind right in the comfort of your own home or even office.

If you are looking for a Swedish massage in London, Deluxe Massage has a huge number of qualified and experienced therapists in swedish massage in London offering this type of treatment. They will travel directly to your home, regardless of your location.

For example, Delia is a therapist who specialises in mobile swedish massage services in London, the same for Nicole or Maria.

What Can You Expect During a Swedish Massage?

In addition to stimulating the nervous system, Swedish massage also nurtures the skin, which soothes the nerves and reduces physical and emotional tension. How does it do that? Your massage therapist will use long, kneading strokes and deep, circular movements to increase the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream, which helps flush lactic and uric acids from your body.

Of course, we all have our personal preferences, but overall, Swedish massage is more gentle than deep tissue massage and better suited to anyone who’s looking for a pampering indulgence, or full mind-body relaxation.

Hot tips!

It’s a good idea to spend 20 minutes in the sauna before your Swedish Massage. It warms and relaxes your muscles preparing them nicely for an even deeper and more relaxing experience. 

All massage can leave you feeling thirsty and needing to go to the toilet more than usual – this is because the massage has got your lymph circulation going and your body is flushing out toxins. Drink plenty of water afterwards as you slowly drift back to planet Earth.

Why not book a Swedish Massage on your next spa day?

Swedish massage techniques conclusions

Despite being considered a classic type of massage, a Swedish massage implicates various massaging techniques that have distinctive health benefits through effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, and vibration.

Generally, the session will last 50 to 90 minutes, during which the therapist will start with general strokes that cover the entirety of the body, to then focus on specific areas.

Swedish massage offers heaps of health benefits: relieving soreness, muscle cramps, minor pain, muscle knots, physical stress, enhancing the circulatory system, promoting flexibility and widening the range of motion.

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