I often hear people (including therapists) say that Swedish Massage is ”Fluff Massage”. That is a very sad misnomer. Swedish Massage has very important therapeutic value. I cringe when I hear new therapists being encouraged to use extremely deep pressure when performing massage. It almost seems like a matter of pride. Sadly, some clinic and spa owners take advantage of this naivete. Unfortunately for both clients and therapists an emphasis seems to be placed on techniques that use deep pressure on the muscle tissue. These techniques also place a great burden on the therapists’ hands and wrists; even if they are using good body mechanics. While many modalities have important therapeutic value, I believe Swedish or “Classic” Massage is where you want to start.
Massage( or at least rubbing and squeezing the muscles to make them feel better) has been around for ages. The person often credited for the massage techniques we use now is Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish physiologist. When these techniques were brought to the United States, they were known as the Swedish Movement Cure. The Massage techniques taught in most massage schools in the United States are friction; which warms up the tissue by applying the palm of the hand to the surface of the skin and gliding it up toward the heart, kneading; which is grasping the muscle tissue and lightly squeezing and pulling away from the bone, stroking; using a light touch away from the heart, percussion and vibration; which are pretty much what they sound like. These techniques serve many functions such as mechanical movement of blood and lymph fluid through the tissues, providing nutrition to the muscles and improving circulation. They can either stimulate or sedate the nerves. The manipulation of muscle tissue can help to elongate shortened muscles. These passive techniques are thought to have a similar effect on the body to exercise. This could prove beneficial to people who have sedentary jobs.
The healing touch of massage can also release endorphins, helping to reduce pain. It can increase dopamine and serotonin levels to decrease depression and stress. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which can promote relaxation and improved sleep. Even just using your hands to rock someone’s body with them fully clothed can have a beneficial and calming effect; especially for those who have body image issues or abuse issues.
So, the next time you are encouraging your therapist to put some elbow grease into it, think about the case for a good old “Swedish” Massage.

Author's Bio: 

Shelly Sparks has been a Licensed Massage Therapist in Columbus, Ohio for thirteen years. She has advanced certification in Neuromuscular and Somatic Therapy and is a Reiki master. She also has experience with Sports Massage and Pre-Natal Massage.Shelly has worked in Spa and Medical clinics while maintaining her own private practice.She has spoken about Massage for Fibromyalgia and Arthritis at local support groups and has also published in magazines and newsletters.Check out her website at www.sparksmassage.com