Swedish Massage Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca

As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body
Do you love to relax during a soothing Swedish Massage?

As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. 
A common type of massage is Swedish massage therapy. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles. This is also combined with the movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it may even help after an injury.

As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation.

The primary goal of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body.

What is the difference between a Swedish massage and a regular massage?

While Pro Massage Massage Therapy offers both Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage it’s important to understand the differences and benefits of each type of massage. Swedish massage is the most commonly offered massage technique, utilizing a firm pressure on the muscles. It involves a series of long yet gliding strokes.

What are the benefits of Swedish massage?

  • Swedish massage therapy is the most well-known and widely practiced type of therapeutic massage—and for good reason. …
  • Pain management. …
  • Increased blood flow. …
  • Rehabilitation for muscle injuries. …
  • Increased flexibility. …
  • Reduced stress. …
  • Improved immune system.

What does a Swedish full body massage include?

As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation.

What are the four main groups of massage strokes?

  • Effleurage. Effleurage is the most common stroke used in massage. …
  • Tapotement. Tapotement is a massage by hitting. …
  • Hacking. Hacking isn’t a very descriptive term for this technique put away those images of woodsmen with axes! …
  • Cupping. …
  • Beating. …
  • Pummeling. …
  • Petrissage. …
  • Plucking.

Swedish massage is the most common type of Western massage therapy and uses a combination of five principle massage strokes; effleurage, kneading, friction, stretching and tapping.

It’s based on a Western approach to anatomy and physiology rather than the flow of energy in the body, which is often the focus of Asian massage techniques.

Only trained licensed massage therapists should give a Swedish massage, and the massage itself can be slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, depending on the therapist’s personal style and what he or she wants to achieve.

Some say that Swedish massage was first developed in the 19th Century by the physiologist, Per Henrik Ling at the University of Stockholm in Sweden. Ling developed a technique for improving joint mobility by combining gymnastics and massage.

Other people believe that Johann Georg Mezger was the true creator. Mezger was a Dutch therapist who formalized a system for massage and named the five basic strokes that make up the Swedish or classic massage.

The Strokes used in Swedish Massage 

A range of massage strokes is used to warm up the muscle tissue, release tension and gradually breaking up muscle “knots” or adhered tissue (called adhesions). The following strokes are all commonly used during a Swedish massage.

  1. Effleurage uses long, gliding strokes to help relax the muscles and increase circulation and blood flow.
  2. Petrissage (from French pétrir, “to knead”) movements include; kneading, wringing, skin rolling, and pick-up-and-squeeze. They are performed with the padded palmar surface of the hand, the surface of the finger, and also the thumbs.
  3. Tapotement is the tapping motion made by the hands in different shapes such as cupping, slapping, and chopping. It is less relaxing than other techniques and is often used at the end of a session to reawaken the client.
  4. Vibration or Shaking helps to loosen up the muscles by using a back and forth action of the fingertips or the heel of the hand over the skin. The muscles of the body are literally shaken to loosen and relax.
  5. Friction seeks to create heat to bring about relaxation of the muscles. Applied after effleurage and petrissage, this massage stroke allows the muscles to generate heat as they are rubbed together.

A Swedish massage will generally last from an hour to an hour and a half. The therapist will start with a consultation about your current health and any areas where you may be experiencing discomfort. They will also take note of your posture, how you move and also may look at how you breathe.

The therapist will leave the room to allow you to undress (you can keep your underwear on if you prefer or if you are comfortable you can be naked). You will cover yourself with a sheet or a towel and when you are ready, the therapist will re-enter the room to start the massage.

Only exposing the area that they are working on, using a technique known as draping, the therapist will start the massage targeting all the major muscle groups.

As described above, Swedish massage involves a combination of five principle massage strokes (effleurage, kneading, friction, stretching, and tapping) to warm up and soften the muscle tissue to release any tension.

Massage oil, usually plant-based oils such as grape seed oil or almond oil, will be used to lubricate your skin for easy smooth movement over the skin. The therapist will put about a teaspoon full onto his or her palm and rub her hands together to warm up both the oil and his or her hands.

Most massages start with your back and the back of each of your legs. The massage therapist will then ask you to turn over before they massage the front of each leg, both arms, and then your neck and shoulders. You can request more work on any area that is giving you particular trouble as well as requesting a lighter or heavier touch.

You may be offered music or the therapist may chat during your massage to help you relax. If you would prefer silence feel free to mention this. Afterward, you should feel very relaxed and possibly a little sleepy, so it is worth taking your time to recover rather than rushing back to your normal pace of life. It’s also likely that you will feel thirsty and it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water to flush out any toxins that have been released.

Swedish massage


Swedish massage is the most popular type of massage in the United States. It involves the use of hands, forearms, or elbows to manipulate the superficial layers of the muscles to improve mental and physical health. Active or passive movement of the joints may also be part of the massage. The benefits of Swedish massage include increased blood circulation, mental and physical relaxation, decreased stress and muscle tension, and improved range of motion.


Swedish massage was invented by a Swedish fencing instructor named Per Henrik Ling in the 1830s. When he was injured in the elbows, he reportedly cured himself using tapping (percussion) strokes around the affected area. He later developed the technique currently known as Swedish massage. This technique was brought to the United States from Sweden by two brothers, Dr. Charles and Dr. George Taylor in the 1850s. The specific techniques used in Swedish massage involve the application of long gliding strokes, friction, and kneading and tapping movements on the soft tissues of the body. Sometimes passive or active joint movements are also used.


Unlike drug therapy, which is often associated with many systemic and long-term side effects, massage therapy is relatively safe and has few contraindications. It also provides many benefits.

Physical benefits

There are numerous physical benefits associated with the use of Swedish massage:

  • loosening tight muscles and stretching connective tissues
  • relieving cramps and muscle spasms and decreasing muscle fatigue
  • loosening joints and improving range of motion
  • increasing muscle strength
  • calming the nervous system
  • stimulating blood circulation
  • firming up muscle and skin tone
  • relieving symptoms of such disorders as asthma, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic and acute pain syndromes, myofascial pain, headache, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, and athletic injuries
  • speeding up healing from injury and illness
  • improving lymphatic drainage of metabolic wastes

Mental and emotional benefits

Mental benefits associated with massage therapy include the following:

  • mental relaxation
  • improvement in length and quality of sleep
  • relief of stress, depression, anxiety, and irritation
  • increased ability to concentrate
  • improved sense of well-being


In Swedish massage, the person to be massaged lies on a massage table and is draped with a towel or sheet. It is a full-body massage treatment, except in areas that are contraindicated or where the client requests not to be touched. Aromatic or unscented oil or lotion is used to facilitate the massage movements. Each session usually lasts 30-60 minutes. Depending on the client’s preferences, a massage session may involve the use of several or all of the following basic techniques: effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration, and tapotement.


Effleurage is the most common stroke in Swedish massage. It is a free-flowing and gliding movement towards the heart, tracing the contours of the body using the palm of one or both hands. Oil is applied with this stroke to begin the first stage of the massage. The therapist applies a light or medium constant pressure. This stroke is used to warm up the muscles, relax the body, calm the nerves, improve blood circulation and heart function, and improve lymphatic drainage.


This technique resembles kneading dough. It involves lifting, rolling, and squeezing the flesh under or between the hands. Pétrissage is designed to release muscle tension, improve blood flow, and increase lymphatic drainage.


Friction strokes work on deeper muscles than the techniques previously described. The friction technique is a pressure stroke and is the deepest that is used in Swedish massage. The massage therapist applies pressure by placing the weight of his or her body on the flat of the hand and the pads of the thumbs, knuckles, fingers, or the back of the forearms, and then releases the pressure slowly and gently. This movement should be a continuous sliding motion or a group of alternating circular motions.


To effect vibration, the massage therapist gently shakes or trembles the flesh with the hand or fingertips, then moves on to another spot and repeats this stroke. Vibration is designed to release muscle tension in small muscle areas, such as those on the face or along the spine.


Tapotement, or tapping and percussion, is a quick choppy rhythmic movement that has a stimulating or toning effect. The following are variations of tapotement:

  • Cupping: The therapist forms the hands into a cup shape with fingers straight but bending only at the lower knuckles; the thumbs are kept close to the palms. The therapist strikes the flesh with the flat of the hands one after another in quick succession.
  • Hacking: This technique is similar to cupping. The therapist uses the sides of the hands with palms facing one another to make a chopping movement.
  • Pummeling: For this stroke, the therapist makes loose fists in both hands and applies them rapidly in succession over the thighs and buttocks.

Tapotement techniques are invigorating to most people but may be too intense for some. When prolonged, tapotement leads to overstimulation and even exhaustion of the nerves and muscles. In addition, it should not be used over varicose veins or directly above bony structures.


Swedish massage requires the following equipment:

  • Massage surface: This may be a professional massage table or any firm but well-padded surface.
  • A clean sheet to cover the part of the body that is not massaged.
  • Cushions: These may be needed, depending on the client’s wishes, to prevent lower back pain. The cushions may be placed under the head and the knees.
  • Oils: The base oil should be a vegetable oil, cold-pressed, unrefined, and free of additives. These oils contain such nutrients as vitamins and minerals in addition to fatty acids. They do not clog the pores as mineral oils often do. Essential (aromatic) oils may be added to provide additional relaxation or other therapeutic effects. Massage oil should be warmed in the therapist’s hands before it is applied to the client’s skin.


Swedish massage should not be given to patients with the following physical disorders or conditions:

  • nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • fever
  • broken bones, fractures, dislocations, or severe sprains
  • contagious diseases
  • open or unhealed sores or wounds
  • body areas that are inflamed, swollen, or bruised
  • varicose veins
  • recent surgery
  • severe pain
  • jaundice
  • frostbite
  • kidney disease
  • large hernias
  • hemorrhaging
  • torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles
  • high blood pressure or heart problems
  • certain kinds of cancer
  • history of phlebitis or thrombosis (These patients may have blood clots that may become dislodged and travel to the lungs, with potentially fatal results.)
  • drug treatment with blood thinners (These medications increase the risk of bleeding under the skin.)

Some clients with histories of physical violence or abuse may feel uncomfortable about removing their clothing or other aspects of massage. A brief explanation of what happens in a massage session and how they can benefit from massage is usually helpful.

Side effects

There have been few reported side effects associated with massage of low or moderate intensity. Intense massage, however, may increase the risk of injury to the body. Vigorous massage has been associated with muscle pain and such injuries as bleeding in the liver or other vital organs, and the dislodgment of blood clots.

Research & general acceptance

Swedish massage is now gaining acceptance from the medical community as a complementary treatment. Studies have shown that massage can relax the body, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce stress and depression. It may also provide symptomatic relief for many chronic diseases. Many doctors now prescribe massage therapy as a symptomatic treatment for headache, facial pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, other chronic and acute conditions, stress, and athletic injuries. Many insurance companies now reimburse patients for prescribed massage therapy.

Therapeutic Swedish Massage, Sports Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.