Swedish massage is the most popular and classic form of the soft tissue techniques. It allows the massage therapist to apply the massage oil or lotions and make initial contact with the body. Often times it is known as the ‘spa’ massage. It tends to be more rhythmic and relaxing. Other times it is the introduction to additional massage techniques, exercises and therapies.
Effleurage is a French word meaning to glide, stroke or touch. Effleurage and Swedish massage are often considered the same. Most often, effleurage is applied using the hand with the fingers together. This is good for conforming to the contour of small areas, such as the neck or the forearm. When applied as a long stroke, it tends to cover the entire limb in a movement toward the heart. The pressure is constant but not deep.
Petrissage is a French word meaning to knead and is also considered a Swedish massage technique. Petrissage is used after the tissue is warmed up because of the increased pressure and focus. This technique includes: muscle squeezing, muscle stripping, wringing, skin rolling, and a variety of kneading techniques. The palm, fingertips, forearm, knuckle and both hands may be used. This technique compresses, stretches and releases the tissue. The direction of the massage depends on the specific technique.
Swedish Massage Technique Components
Direction of movement:
- For relaxation and reduction of edema, the direction is toward the heart or in the direction of blood flow.
- For fibrotic areas, a cross-fiber direction or in the direction of the restriction.
- For relaxation, the pressure tends to be light to moderate.
- Deeper pressure is applied to reach deeper structure and release adhesions.