What is a Swedish Massage?

The foundation of Western massage therapy. Swedish Massage has history as long and complex as its techniques. While some say that Swedish Massage is the most “basic”, it’s actually far from it. Swedish Massage requires a range of techniques that must be mastered to achieve full body relaxation.

What makes Swedish Massage different from any other massage? Where did it come from? What techniques does it use? What are the benefits?


While most people suspect that Swedish massage is Swedish, it’s a misnomer. The massage was invented by a Dutch man named Johann Georg Mezger, who was inspired by Per Henrik Ling’s (A Swede) Medical Gymnastics. Because Per Henrik Ling was a major influence, he was credited for the creation of Swedish Massage instead of Johann Mezger.

This misnomer exists only in the U.S. Other countries including all those in Europe refer to Swedish as “Classic Massage” but even that is a misnomer. Both Johann Mezger and Per Henrik Ling were heavily influenced by Eastern style medicine, gymnastics, and massage, which far predate the Swedish massage.

Swedish massage arose from Mezger’s and Ling’s study of Asian practice and has since evolved into the classic style we see today. It uses a variety of techniques


A Swedish Massage uses a wide variety of techniques which work together to create a full-body experience.

  1. Effleurage: long strokes across certain areas. They follow your veins to push toxins out of your system and reinforce healthy blood flow.
  2. Petrissage: Sometimes you need to reach deeper muscles. This technique involves kneading with the thumbs and knuckles to relax the top layers of muscle and penetrate the intermediate and deep muscles.
  3. Tapotement: Also known as Rhythmic Tapping. Instead of moving the toxins out of your body through blood flow, tapotement is designed to find knots and relieve tension by applying pressure on area.
  4. Friction: Through rubbing the palms of your hands on your muscles, the masseuse creates enough heat from the friction to relax the muscles. This is often done as a warm-up or as a means to prepare for deep-tissue massage.
  5. Shaking: The goal of this technique is to shake the muscles until they are no longer stiff. This technique uses back and forth action with the fingertips.


The goal of a Swedish Massage is full-body relaxation. It improves circulation over the whole body by focusing on the fascia. Our muscles work hard given the circumstances we put them through and tense up over time. By finding those knots, relieving pressure on the muscles, and then encouraging blood flow to wash toxins out of your body and bring in pain-relieving biochemicals, a Swedish Massage is the best choice for a relaxing experience.

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