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What is Swedish massage?

Swedish massage traditionally incorporates effleurage, petrissage and compression.

Effleurage is a smooth, gliding stroke that generally initiates a Swedish Massage treatment. It is often performed with the broad palm surface of both hands, but can also use the thumbs, fingers, or knuckles. It is used to relax soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue) for deeper work as well as being an exploratory stroke, which enables the massage therapist to examine the texture and quality of the tissues in which she will work. Effleurage has the beneficial effect of increasing the circulation of blood and lymph in the body.

Petrissage consists of wringing, squeezing, rolling and kneading (like kneading bread dough) the muscles, using one or two hands, the thumbs, or the fingers. Petrissage often follows effleurage. It encourages circulation in the deeper veins and lymph vessels of the body. This increase in circulation has the benefit of bringing nutrients - digestive food particles and oxygen - to cells to help them grow and repair. It also helps remove waste products that are released by the cells into the blood.

Compression is the deepest of all strokes. It consists of deep circular or transverse movements with the pads of the thumbs or fingers to soft tissue so that the underlying layers of tissue actually rub against one another. This stroke is a powerful tool in breaking down adhesions that form in the body from such processes as formation of scar tissue. Additionally, friction causes an increase in blood flow (local hyperemia) to the massage area, which aids circulation to provide increased nutrition and realignment of muscle fibers.


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