When most people think of massage, the image that comes to mind is that of a Swedish massage. Originating in Europe, Swedish massage incorporates various strokes that address the whole body, in a section by section manner, for the purpose of bringing about an overall sense of relaxation. Beginning with effleurage, the therapist warms the tissue by applying lotion or oil and performs gliding strokes over the body areas. To further loosen and relax the muscles, petrissage (kneading) is used in conjunction with friction, vibration, and tapotement (a light hacking or tapping motion).
In addition to providing a sense of overall relaxation, Swedish massage can help to reduce physical and emotional stress, improve circulation, increase range of motion and muscle flexibility, and help the client obtain a feeling of connectedness and better awareness of their body. It is up to the client whether or not to engage in conversation during the course of the massage. Most clients find that they achieve a deeper level of relaxation by lying quietly, letting their mind go and experiencing the immediate sensation of the massage. It is not uncommon for the client to fall asleep during a Swedish massage.
A Swedish massage session generally lasts about one hour and encompasses the whole body: face, head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet, back, and glutes. Clients may elect to skip certain body regions based on personal preference. The client is undressed, but is covered or “draped” by a sheet or other material. Each body part is undraped as it is massaged and then re-draped before moving on to another area of the body. The client undresses and dresses in private and situates themselves on the table, under the draping, before the therapist enters the room for the massage. It is important, after receiving any type of bodywork, to rehydrate the body by drinking plenty of water.