Swedish massage is far and away the most popular form of therapeutic massage being practiced today. Also referred to as "relaxation massage", this type of bodywork emphasizes increasing blood circulation in order to relieve tension and promote muscle relaxation. Countless studies have shown that Swedish massage is not only highly effective in terms of its ability to ease stiffness and reinvigorate the muscles, but it can also relieve stress and boost immune health.
Swedish Massage Techniques
Using classic tissue manipulation techniques, a trained massage therapist knows how to perform various firm but comfortable motions that will increase the amount of oxygen in the blood while also flushing out toxins and easing tension in the muscles. Some of the most common techniques include:
Kneading or Petrissage -- Pressure applied in a circular motion using the hands and palms. Using this technique, soft tissues are compressed against one another, or against the underlying bone(s).
Tapotement -- Rhythmic tapping, patting or pounding of the muscles using the fingertips, a cupped hand or the edge of the hand.
Compression -- Applying pressure to the muscles that is held before being released.
Friction -- Pressing on and rubbing the muscles in small circular movements, typically using the thumbs.
Vibration -- Quick, rhythmic shaking or rocking strokes using the side of the hand, heel of the hand, or the fingertips.
Benefits of Swedish or Relaxation Massage
1. Increased Blood Flow
This form of bodywork is famous for increasing blood flow, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles while efficiently removing toxins.
2. Reduced Stress Levels
Swedish techniques in particular have a goal of maximizing relaxation through the application of pressure and rhythmic motion to your muscles. Research has shown that these techniques can actually reduce the level of cortisol (a.k.a. the "stress hormone") in your body, producing a sense of calm and enhanced feelings of well-being.
3. Better Flexibility
Tense, stiff muscles can produce pain and discomfort, but when they have been loosened up by these bodywork techniques, they will become more flexible and enjoy a greater range of motion.
4. Effective Pain Management
People who suffer from chronic pain such as osteoarthritis or sciatica can definitely benefit from Swedish massage. More often than not, patients suffering from these types of conditions are relegated to taking a litany of synthetic pain medications that may or may not be effective, and often come with troubling side effects. These bodywork techniques are a natural alternative that can help patients manage their pain in a holistic way.
5. Better Immune Health
As mentioned earlier, stress can produce excess levels of cortisol in the body, which can weaken your immune system. According to one study published by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Swedish bodywork techniques actually produced significant decreases in the cortisol levels of the participants, as well as an increase in the number of disease-fighting lymphocytes (white blood cells). With a stronger immune system, you will be less susceptible to sickness, which means a more active and productive life.
As you can see, Swedish massage therapy provides several outstanding health benefits, not to mention the fact that it's a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon! If you're ready to experience some of these wonderful benefits, be sure to book an appointment with me in Stony Plain today!