Sunday, May 25, 2008

Learn Basic Swedish Massage Techniques

Massage is practiced all over the world by many different cultures. Simply speaking, it can be divided into two main types, or systems, depending on whether it originates in the West or the East. Most of the massage done in developed countries is based on so-called Swedish massage, which started as a form of physiotherapy in the early 19th century. A different system that involves softly palpating the skin is known as manual lymphatic drainage.

Passive movements

Clasp the toes with one hand and give the ankle some support with the other. Slowly rotate the foot a few times, then flex the toes gently backward and forward. Holding the ankle with one hand, raise the leg and bend the knee forward, supporting the thigh with your other hand. Straighten the leg and repeat the movement several times.

Arms and hands

Follow the sequence for legs and feet, adapting the movements for the smaller surface area of the arms, working down toward the hands.


Place your hands side by side, just below the collar bone, and stroke (effleurage) firmly down the chest. Fan out to the sides, gliding toward the shoulders. Stroke over and behind the shoulders, and up the back of the neck to the base of the skull. Glide your hands down the sides of the neck to start again. Repeat six times.

Use your thumbs and fingers to knead (petrissage) the chest gently and rhythmically. Try not to pinch the skin.

Make circular pressures (frictions) with your thumbs on the muscles between the ribs. Start at the sternum and work out in a series of rows toward the shoulders. Vary the pressure according to your partner's needs. Finish with more stroking (effleurage).

Avoid any firm movements on the sensitive tissue around the breasts.


Place a small pillow under the knees to relax the abdomen. Facing across the body, place one hand on the lower ribs and the other below the navel. Stroke (effleurage) your lower hand slowly and lightly around the navel in a clockwise direction.

Use the fingers of one hand to apply gentle, circular pressures (frictions). Work around the navel, increasing the pressure as your partner relaxes.

Using flat palms, knead (petrissage) the top of the abdomen by rhythmically pushing the flesh from one hand to the other. Then knead each side of the abdomen with a deeper movement.

Place one palm on top of the other, below the rib cage on the left side of the abdomen. Contract your upper forearm to create a trembling movement (vibration) in your hands, then slowly pull your hands toward the pelvis and continue around in a clockwise direction.


Start with some gentle fan stroking (effleurage). Place your hands on the lower back, on either side of the spine, and stroke firmly upward. When you reach the lower ribs, fan your hands outward and down the sides. Repeat.

Face your partner's body, then knead (petrissage) grasp, squeeze, and release as much flesh as you can with alternate hands. Start on the far hip, then work up the side of the back and across the shoulders toward you. Work twice around the back.

Support the left shoulder blade with your right hand and make circular pressures with the fingers of your left hand in the groove beside and away from the spine: Work all the way down the side of the back. When you reach the hips, release, glide up, and start again on the right side of the back.

Loosely cup your hands. With your fingers pointing downward, rhythmically and lightly pat your hands alternately over the buttocks. This percussion (tapotement) movement should make a loud, hollow sound. Continue over the back, taking care to avoid the kidneys. Finish by stroking one hand after the other down the back.

Robin is a home remedies and fitness expert. In his spare time, Mr. Robin write for herbal medicines and alternative medicines.

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