Sunday, May 25, 2008

Swedish Massage Tips - How to Give a Swedish Massage

Although massage has been around for centuries in Eastern cultures, it didn't really take off in the West until the 19th century. Under the influence of a Swedish physiologist and fencing master, Pir Henrik Ling (1776-1839), a system was developed that combined massage with physical exercise. This became known as Swedish massage, and is still the basis for most massage practiced in the West today.

Ling gave French terms to many of the movements he devised, and they are still in use today: effleurage (stroking); petrissage (kneading); frictions (circular pressures); and tapotement (percussion). In order to keep everything simple I will use the translations as these are the words I have used throughout the book.

Key principles

A sequence of Swedish massage usually starts with stroking, followed by kneading, friction, vibrations, percussion, stroking again, and then passive movements. It traditionally takes place on a massage couch, since it is essential for the masseur to keep a straight back. The massage usually begins on the legs and feet, followed by the hands and arms, then the abdomen and chest, and finally the back.

Upper leg

Place one hand behind the other on the front of the thigh above the knee. Stroke (effleurage) both your hands firmly up the thigh, and glide them smoothly down the sides.

Knead (petrissage) the thigh with alternate hands. Work up the leg in rows.

Hold the leg with one hand and use the fingers of the other to make rows of circular pressures (friction) along the outer thigh, toward the hip.

Make a light, brisk hacking (tapotement) movement with the sides of your hands, along the outer thigh. Follow with stroking (effleurage).

Lower leg

Use one hand to support the right knee, and with the thumb of your other hand, make circular pressures (frictions) all around it. Follow with firm strokes from the ankle to the knee.

Using both your hands, knead (petrissage) the inner side of the calf. Then support the leg at the ankle, and knead the outer calf.

Still supporting the leg, make circular finger pressures (frictions) with your other hand along the outer calf. Finish by stroking.


Sandwich the foot between your palms, and stroke firmly downward (effleurage) and glide back. Repeat a few times. Make circular thumb pressures (frictions) along the top of the foot with your fingers supporting the sole, then along the sole of the foot with your fingers holding the top. Massage each toe and finish with gentle stroking (effleurage).

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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