Swedish/Relaxation massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage, also known as relaxation massages the primary goal is to relax the entire body.

When people hear the word massage, most of us envision the Relaxation and Stress Reduction type of massage, as it is best known for reducing stress and inducing relaxation of the muscles (and often your mind – think “Zen”).

There is a reason for that association – it really works! Relaxation and Stress Reduction massages have been proven to be very important in wellness and health supporting elements in the health industry.

This form of massage is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. Swedish massage has exceptional benefits for increasing the level of oxygen in the bloodstream, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.


Many people have heard of Swedish massage but surprisingly few really know how it differs, in detail, form the other forms of massage found at our facility.

To explain, the combination of massage elements can best be described as; long, flowing strokes, called effleurage; kneading strokes which are called petrissage; a more rhythmic ‘pumping’ of muscle against the bone, which is called compression; friction – which is self-described, as is vibration; and finally, the more memorable tapping or chopping strokes, called tapotement.

Increased blood flow, or an increase of circulation, created by following the blood flow of the heart throughout the body, is the main objective in Swedish Massage. Because of this increased blood flow, which brings an increase of important and naturally healing nutrients to the body, it has been known to shorten the recovery time from muscular strain and reduce stress as well as reducing certain minor illnesses.

While more and more people are hearing about, or experiencing ‘bodywork’ being done on themselves, Swedish Massage was one of the early precursors to bodywork. This is due to its format – that of the inclusion of the entire body into the session. Working the body with long, gliding strokes, in the direction of the blood returning to the heart, it goes beyond just relaxation, into a whole-body therapy.

Because of the effect that Swedish Massage has on blood circulation, one of the effects is the increased delivery of more oxygen to the blood. This causes a decrease in muscle toxins, improved circulation overall as well as a reduction in tension.

Another study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, noted that the study group/volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage, experienced significant decreases in levels overall of the stress hormone known as cortisol. It was found that there was a secondary effect as well – the reduction of arginine vasopressin – a hormone that has been known to lead to an increases in cortisol.


In addition to the techniques listed above, which are most common, there are other associated techniques which the Swedish Massage therapist may consider effective in any individual session. One of these would include the application of a circular pressure in the area(s) being treated.

Be sure to speak with your massage therapist about any discomfort or issues that you might anticipate or want clarity on, before beginning your session as well as during the session – letting them know how you are doing.