Somewhere along the way as massage therapists developed their skills and training in myofascial release, poking on “trigger points,” cranial sacral therapy and myriad other focused education on zeroing in on body parts, we lost our love of “just Swedish,” massage.
I hear massage therapists even use that phrase “just Swedish,” as if it’s the bastard grandchild of the Queen, a whispered shame to admit that their spa or clients are requesting, a GROAN, “just Swedish” massage. No chance to whip out the fancy. No chance to turn out the smart little tool from under the counter, or show off that nifty trick they learned in that high-powered workshop they just paid a few hundred dollars for.
Have you HAD a good Swedish massage lately? I haven’t. No one really gives them anymore. Every massage I get is nearly always infused with pokey trigger point holding and sports stretching, as if I might surely be going to run hurdles after the session. I’m not sure when the last ACTUAL Swedish massage I received was. Letsseee….2015? Uh, no. 2014? No. Maybe three or four years ago someone did an actual Swedish.
What IS an actual Swedish? It’s beautiful, it what it is. It’s therapeutic. It’s relaxing. It’s effective. It’s amazing bodywork, done correctly. There are few massages better than a well-done Swedish massage.
Let’s go back to Massage 101. Swedish, lets recall, is effleurage, those long sweeping strokes, alternating pressures, using everyting from the plam to the fingers. You fall into relaxation almost right away. There’s petrissage. The actual kneading, where we can use knuckles or squeeze the muscles. This feels good to talk about it. And here’s where the start to break down and lose our Swedish — Tapotement and tapping. There’s tapotement and tapping! When did you get that in a massage? Its fantastic! Varying speeds of cupped hands or fists or chops, or even plucking. Incredibly simulating, relaxing all the same time. There’s friction. The idea is to heat things up with rapid strokes. Vibration and shaking; rocking.
Now seriously. When was the last time you got a massage using all these strokes and it NOT be a fantastic massage?
Start out with effleurage, full-body petrissage include some great tapotement and end up with some shaking and rocking. This is good stuff.
Don’t diss the Swedish. It’s the standard of good massage.