Monday, September 8, 2008

Say Yes to a Swedish Massage

If you thought that a Swedish massage was something peculiar to Sweden then you were mistaken! It is known as Swedish massage not because it is a Swedish way of massaging but because a Swedish named Per Heinrik Link developed it.

What is a Swedish Massage?
A Swedish massage is a form of bodywork that makes use of specific movements and strokes on the body tissues and muscles in order to loosen the muscles. Here the rubbing is in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Thus the primary aim of it is to soothe the tensed muscles and increase the flow of blood.

The Origin
This technique emerged in the late 18th century by Per Heinrik Link. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and travelled all over Europe seeking a cure. Ultimately he landed up in China where he learned the eastern techniques. He thus merged and combined the eastern practices with the western thoughts, specifically the gymnastic rehabilitative exercises to form this extraordinary massage.

It's techniques
Swedish massage strives to relax the tensed muscles by rubbing the deeper muscles and bones. Care has to be taken that rubbing is in the same direction as the return of blood to the heart. There are different kinds of strokes used that include:

1. Effleurage
This is generally given at the start of the session. It means "touching lightly" and the palms of both the hands usually give the strokes. However many a times the thumb, fingers and knuckles too are used. The stroke is given in the same direction as the return of blood to the heart. This stroke aims to relax the soft tissues, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also helps the therapist know your body better so that he knows how to give the treatment.

2. Petrissage
This means "kneading" and in this stroke the muscles are kneaded, squeezed and rolled with the help of the hands, thumbs and fingers. This stroke aims at the deeper veins in the body and strives to increase the blood circulation in them so that the cells are rejuvenated.

3. Friction
Also called "rubbing", this is the strongest of all strokes. In it the pads of the thumbs and the fingers are used to stimulate the layers of tissue and rub them against one another. This stroke aims at increasing the blood flow and circulation so that the muscle fibers are realigned and get some nutrition. Thus this stroke breaks down the tissues that are scared and puts life back in the dead ones.

4. Tapotement
Tapotement means "tapping". The masseur cups his hands, fingers or the edge of the hand and pounds the body. Thus short, gentle but firm blows are given to the body. The main aim of this is to stimulate the circulation but when given for more than 10 seconds they assist in relaxing the body too.

5. Vibration
This involves "shaking" the body. The practitioner puts his hands on the body to shake them vigorously up and down. Vibration aims at stimulating the circulation and if done for a longer period at relaxing the body.

Benefits of a Swedish Massage

Though the primary aim of this massage is to relax the body, there are many other benefits too:
  • Improves the blood circulation in the body
  • Helps remove metabolic waste products
  • Helps get over muscle aches and pains
  • Stimulates the skin
  • Helps in getting over stress and fatigue
  • Improves the joint mobility
  • Improves the immune system
  • Helps fight insomnia
  • Leads to a feeling of general wellness.
Now that you know the benefits of this massage, just go for it.

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