When most people think of massage, they are thinking of “Swedish Massage.” In most of the world (including Sweden), what we call "Swedish Massage" is referred to as “Classic Massage,” this is the most widely recognized and commonly used category of massage in the world. Pehr Henrik Ling (a Swede) is often mistakenly credited with “inventing” Swedish Massage (leading to the term). Ling was influential because around 1805, he discovered that physical activity and gymnastic movements had restored his health. In 1813, Ling founded the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute, but he didn’t have anything to do with developing “Swedish Massage.” Massage wasn’t even included in Ling’s gymnastic movement program at the institute.
Dr. Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909), a Dutch physician and massage practitioner, is credited by his peers, including Emil Kleen and Richard Haelwith, with classifying and describing five classic massage strokes that form the basis of Swedish Massage sometime in the last half of the 1800s. It was Metzger who used French terms to describe the movement and system we call, “Swedish Massage.”
is the most superficial stroke in Swedish massage. It is a long gliding stroke and is most commonly used as the opening stroke in massage to apply the lubricant and assess the body's tissue while warming the muscles and skin. It deeply soothes and relaxes the mind and body by stimulating the nervous system, connects the massage therapist to the client, and can be used to close the massage. It can be applied to all areas of the body with open palms, soft fists or forearms using varied pressure and speed.
includes kneading, squeezing, lifting, rolling and compression of the skin and musculature. Petrissage releases muscle tension and stretches the tendons. In a basic massage sequence, petrissage often follows effleurage in a basic massage sequence to further increase blood flow. It prepares the body to receive deeper work, if deeper work is necessary
Friction consists of short movements applied to the client’s muscles by the therapist's fingers, thumbs or elbows with little to no lubricant. Friction can break up adhesions and 'knots,' and is part of a deep tissue massage.
is tapping, drumming, patting or hacking the client’s body with the therapist's hands, soft fists or finger tips. When you see massage in movies or television, tapotement is usually what you see. When you see a massage therapist “karate chopping” on a client, that’s tapotement! Tapotement can stimulate the nervous system, circulatory and musculoskeletal systems, and it’s often used for sports and medical massage. It can stimulate weak muscles and loosen tight ones. Tapotement can also break up mucous congestion, and it’s one of massage methods used to help people with cystic fibrosis. Tapotement is also great for “revving up” your relaxed body to prepare you to get back to work!
or shaking can seem a little like the pulsing sensations produced by electric or battery-operated massage devices. The therapist uses tensed hands to create a trembling or vibrating movement. Vibration can be applied to small areas of the body, or to larger areas of the body as jostling of shaking. When applied to the abdomen by a trained therapist, vibration can stimulate a sluggish bowel. If you are “wound up” when you arrive for your massage, vibration can be used to slow the rhythms of your body to help you to relax.
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