What is Swedish Massage?

Published on June 16, 2020 by arothstein

Massage therapist preparing to provide a client with a Swedish massage.

Are you interested in becoming a massage therapist? Want to learn more about the different techniques associated with massage? Swedish massage is the most common form of massage therapy offered and asked for by clients. Swedish massage is a whole-body technique that kneads muscles using deep circular motion to stroke the skin and deliver general relaxation to your clients. There are some basic strokes and techniques for Swedish massage. Finally, if you like helping others and want to reduce the pain and stress in those seeking massage therapy, becoming a massage therapist and learning Swedish massage may be the right career path for you. Are you asking yourself, “What is Swedish massage?”

What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is a full-body massage that targets the neck and shoulders all the way down to the back and legs to the feet. There are a few basic strokes that include effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration and tapotement. As a result, it offers many benefits like improved circulation, stress release and reduction in pain to name a few. Swedish massage forms the basis of many other types of massage like deep tissue and chair massage.

What are the Basic Swedish Massage Strokes?

There are five basic Swedish massage strokes that include effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration and tapotement. Each stroke is used in succession starting with a warmup phase, then moving to management of the pressures and tension in the body’s muscles and ending with the stimulation of blood flow to the body to improve mood and relaxation.

Effleurage – a series of long, circular massage strokes at different intensity levels of pressure that are meant to loosen knots and release tension in the muscles.

Petrissage – the kneading or squeezing of the soft tissue, used to stretch and loosen tension in the muscles. Petrissage strokes help improve blood circulation and remove toxins from the muscles.

Friction – massage in a circular motion to rub the muscles on the body. This helps to warm up the muscles allowing them to improve blood flow during tapotement strokes.

Vibration – shaking the muscles to loosen and relax the body.

Tapotement – tapping of the body to stimulate blood flow and introduce endorphins into the body.

What are the Benefits of Swedish Massage?

There are many different benefits of Swedish massage. They include relaxation, stress reduction, increased blood circulation, removal of metabolic waste and scar tissue, immunity support, better posture, increased flexibility and headache relief.


Relaxation helps release endorphins to relax the brain. The brain carries a lot stress and the massage of the body’s muscles allows a client to relax and unwind after a long day. Many spas or resorts will match the atmosphere with the massage to offer a relaxing and calm treatment.

Stress Reduction

This massage is used to reduce stress levels in the client. Client s will hold stress in different parts of the body including the brain. The use of Swedish massage helps relieve the tension and stress that builds up in the neck, back, arms, and legs. Ultimately, the release of stress in the muscles helps reduce stress in the brain.

Increase Blood Circulation

At the beginning of the massage, it is important to increase blood circulation in the muscles to open up the blood vessels and allow the movement of blood and release of toxins built up in the muscles. The delivery of fresh blood can help both the muscles and organs of the body.

Removal of Metabolic Waste and Scar Tissue

Over time and during exercise, the body can harbor toxins and waste in the muscles. By increasing the blood circulation, the waste can be expelled from the muscles offering a reduction of tension. Scar tissue also builds up when the muscles are used, and the massage of these muscles will break up and expel the scar tissue from the muscle to reduce pain and allow the muscle to heal better and more quickly.

Immunity Support

The best defense against virus and disease is a healthy immune system. Therefore, massage therapy promotes the reduction of stress and the lowering of cortisol. Reducing stress can improve the immune system by creating additional T-cells that can help fight virus and disease in the body. Massage also allows lymphatic fluid to flow more easily through the muscles. This increases lymphocytes that are produced in the lymph nodes that help support and boost immunity.

Better Posture

For those that sit for most of the day and tend to slouch at the desk or those that stand up all day at a job, massage can improve posture and allow the body to return to better ergonomics. Some of the body’s muscles may be overworked by either sitting or standing, causing other muscles to strain to support the tired muscles. Massage helps relieve the pain and stress caused to the muscles, improving posture in the process.

Increased Flexibility

While sitting much of the day or after strenuous exercise, the body can shorten the muscles, causing inflammation. This inflammation can be relieved through massage that elongates the muscles, stretching and restoring the blood flow to the muscle. Massage will also improve range of motion by lubricating the joints. All of this helps increase flexibility and range of motion.

Headache Relief

Stress and poor circulation can cause headaches. Even some environmental exposure or medications can cause headaches that can be relieved with proper massage techniques. Therefore, by relieving the tension in the muscles and increasing the flow of blood, the brain can reduce the amount of stress, offering relief from headaches.

Why Learn Massage Therapy?

Learning massage therapy allows you to help others. Clients may have stress, tension or pain in their muscles, and you have the ability to relieve that through proper massage. You can help your clients improve their circulation, release stress and recover from injury. Becoming a massage therapist gives you the power to change your clients lives for the better. To reduce the suffering of those with pain as a true massage therapy hero.

Learning Swedish massage opens up doors to flexibility and a better work/life balance. After obtaining some experience at a local spa, you can become your own boss, set your own schedule and decide on which facility you want to work in. You can work during the day, nights or weekends. You have the opportunity to choose between becoming self-employed or working with a collective of massage therapists.

Industry Outlook

Ultimately, massage therapists are in demand. Employment of massage therapists is projected to grow 22 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More people are looking to alternative treatments for pain and injury outside of traditional medicine. Many doctors are even prescribing massage therapy as a part of medical treatment. Massage therapy is now becoming more mainstream as more people become aware of the true benefits of massage.

Why Attend a Vocational School that Offers a Massage Therapy Program?

Most students in a massage therapy program can get certified within one year, working full-time. These programs offer classes in anatomy, physiology and kinesiology to better understand the body and how it works. Classes in the program focus on all the different massage therapy techniques including Swedish massage, deep tissue, and prenatal to name a few. There is also a class on business for those that want to become self-employed as a massage therapist. Lastly, you will participate in a clinical lab that offers real world experience with actual clients. This will boost your resume before you even start your first job. One-on-one instruction from industry experienced instructors is possible with small class sizes. You will also make life-long relationships with fellow students.

With this certification, you can work at many different facilities including spas, resorts, conventions and casinos. There is an opportunity to work in many different locations from cruise ships, tropical resorts and luxury hotels. You can even meet clients at their office or in their homes.

Many vocational schools offer career services to both graduates and alumni of the school for the entirety of a career. Although a vocational school can’t guarantee a job, they do have a large number of resources to help get a job, write a good resume, and prepare for an interview. Becoming a massage therapist is the first step to a rewarding career.

Learn More

Do you want to help others? Enjoy flexibility and a work/life balance? Did learning about Swedish massage interest you? Broadview University developed the Massage Therapy certificate program with your future in mind. The certificate program is designed to emphasize skills and knowledge for entry-level employment as a massage therapist. The Massage Therapy program at Broadview University prepares students to take the MBLEx licensing exam offered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB). Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible for professional membership in such associations as the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP).

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.

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