What is Swedish Massage? A Massage Therapist’s Guide

Massage therapy is an exciting field full of opportunities to make a difference in the lives of many different people. The array of techniques allows massage to be helpful in a variety of ways. It can help people ease their pain, relieve their stress and alleviate the tension that can prematurely wear their bodies down. There are a lot of different reasons that someone might make an appointment for a massage, but their appointment will have more than one benefit. Massage therapy that manually stimulates soft tissue and muscle groups releases toxins, improves circulation and helps with joint support.

Know What to Expect

Knowing what kind of appointment to book can be more confusing than it initially seems. There are a lot of variations of massage methods and techniques to choose from and they all offer something different. You probably know what kind of end result you want, but that doesn’t mean you know what kind of massage will get you there. It is highly likely that Swedish massage has been suggested or recommended to you at some point. This form of massage therapy is so popular that it is often referred to as “classic massage.” But will it give you what you are looking for? Let’s take a look at what Swedish massage is, and what it is utilized for.

Defining Traits of Swedish Massage Technique

The trademark of this massage method is slow, gliding motions that lead blood flow back toward the heart. There are a lot of movements that can be included in the Swedish massage experience to help release the tension and stress from the body. They are generally classified as stroking, kneading, striking, and rubbing and vibration. Each technique produces a different effect that relieves stress in a different way.

A massage therapist will have had the training to determine the right combination to help their client feel happier and more relaxed by the end of their appointment. This experience can be confined to a certain area of the body or include the entirety of it. It all depends on how inclusive the client wants their relaxation effort to be and whether their tension is carried in any specific places.

How to Utilize Swedish Massage

There is a myriad of benefits to receiving a Swedish massage, but the primary reason for booking one is to relax the entire body. This can be achieved by focusing on an area that carries stress and focusing all the attention to that section. It can also be achieved by systematically approaching each area of the body and relieving pressure and tension to maximize a client’s general comfort and relief. Whatever the case might be, Swedish massage is generally low-impact and meant to make someone feel good. Here are a few good reasons think about booking one or recommending one to a friend.

General Stress

Life is stressful, and never in just one area at a time. Trying to balance an overloaded schedule or resolve problems does more than just stress someone out mentally and emotionally. The demands of a profession, family and personal life can actually manifest as physical problems that can make daily tasks more uncomfortable. Cumulative stress needs a release to avoid the long term physical and mental health damage that can be done by being perpetually overtaxed. Getting a classic massage regularly may help stabilize mood and get rid of tension that would otherwise build up and become unhealthy.

Cubicle Tension

Just because someone sits at a desk doesn’t mean their body doesn’t suffer wear and tear from their job. The repetitive impact of sitting and the sustained motion of activities such as typing can do damage to muscles, joints and tendons over long periods of time. This mild, gradual damage can evolve into injuries that affect daily life. By booking an appointment for a Swedish massage on a semi-frequent basis a client can help to slow and avoid the physical damage done by sedentary office and administrative work. They may also want to consider a classic massage to combat the negative impact that repetitive clerical work can have on their overall mood and demeanor.

For Special Occassions

This is the perfect kind of massage to book for group outings like bachelorette/bachelor parties, birthdays, mother’s/father’s day and other celebrations because it is low impact and therefore low risk for everyone in the group. Swedish massages are generally pleasant and gentle which means they are going to be enjoyable for many people. So even if a member of a party has never had a massage or is dealing with a physical issue of some sort, they can still enjoy a Swedish massage.

Self Care

A client can also get a classic massage for no reason at all! Their primary purpose is for the body and mind to feel relaxed and to feel comfortably at ease. So even if a client doesn’t have “a good reason” or “an excuse” for a massage, they can treat themselves to some hands-on self-care and make the appointment anyway. We often find reasons to neglect our own pleasure and satisfaction, but there is no reason not to give oneself a gift that will have lasting health benefits.

When Not to Utilize Swedish Massage

Classic or Swedish massages can be a gift to oneself that is both helpful and luxurious. They are not, however, meant to be used exclusively or as a remedy for all physical issues. There are many other massage techniques that have been developed to deal with many issues. Some massage techniques deal with certain areas of the body, some deal with certain kinds of damage or injury. Here are a few examples of issues the classic technique is not used to deal with.

Hard Labor Relief

The Swedish method might be effective when it comes to combating the effects of office and administrative work, but it is not quite aggressive enough for much of the damage sustained during hard labor jobs. Physically demanding career fields such as construction, child-care and other manual labor jobs can cause stress and damage that a classic massage may not be able to address properly. The damage from the high stress and direct impact of these positions often requires deeper and more focused attention to deep muscle and soft tissue groups.

Swedish massage might be too superficial of a manual manipulation technique to reach the problem areas the way they need to be. It is not uncommon to experience discomfort when achieving results through the more intense massage methods. The classic method primarily focuses on making one feel comfortable. Please consult your healthcare professional to see if massage is the right choice for your discomfort.


Massage therapy can be helpful when recovering from an injury. It is a tool that can help in the physical rehabilitation of most areas of the body. Sports and hobbies can cause pulled or knotted muscles, strained tendons and stressed tissues. Swedish massages might help someone relax after a single stressful event, but Swedish massage is probably not the best massage choice to use for addressing the immediate impact and prolonged effects of an actual injury. It could be that the techniques used in the classic method might worsen the injury and extend the damage. So, it is important to identify and isolate any injuries or trouble spots before a massage therapist begins any kind of massage.

Deep Detoxification

There will be a small amount of toxins released during any kind of massage. However, there are some methods that are more effective at detoxification than others. If someone is hoping to use massage as a way to release the systemic toxic build up throughout one’s body, they are going to need a method firmer than the Swedish technique. It may be incredible for relaxation, but they are going to need a method that reaches deep into their tissues if they are looking for a deep toxin release. Getting to these deeper layers requires a bit of pressure and can be briefly unpleasant, which means the classic relaxation technique may not be the best detox solution.

Extreme Increase in Range of Motion

Swedish massage will help relax and loosen up someone’s movements, but it is not going to cause a serious increase in range of motion or flexibility. If classic massage is a regular part of physical maintenance a client may see a slow, gradual increase in their freedom of movement and their overall comfort. However, if a client wants to incorporate massage into their efforts to become more flexible, they should consider a massage method that will focus on their joints and prioritize the muscles and tissues around them. Going with a technique with greater focus will be more effective for achieving quicker, more dramatic flexibility results. Swedish massage is broader than a person will likely need to increase their range of motion.

Which Method is Best?

Massage therapy can be intimidating if not familiar with it. It can be tough to distinguish between the different methods and keep straight what they are all used for. There are many different theories and practices to keep track of and new ones being developed and discovered all the time. Becoming a massage therapist is without a doubt the best way to choose what massage method would be most beneficial to a specific physical and mental needs. The education would also allow to extend knowledge and support to others who may be in need of relief. A person can focus on getting pampered while getting a general feel for how a massage appointment typically goes. This can make it easier to explore new career paths, try new methods or simply book another Swedish massage appointment.

Want to Learn More?

Did this information about what a Swedish massage is interest you? If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 5 months with full time enrollment*. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.

*Completion time for this program is defined by 35 hours per week.

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