Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the 21st Century is rather challenging. Were under enormous amounts of pressure and stress, having to meet deadlines, ensuring we have enough time to exercise and eat well, facing problems in our relationships, financial constraints and health issues. As time passes, our body is filled with large amounts of stress hormones which often cause physical problems, thus affecting our digestive system, causing headaches, insomnia and many other stress related illnesses. We need to relax on a regular basis, both physically and mentally in order to maintain good health and find a more effective way to distress.
Swedish massage is probably the most common massage type. This is the massage most people associate with the word massage. It helps with decreasing stress hormones and gives an immediate relaxing effect. The therapist uses a variety of techniques that activate changes in the brain’s chemistry that results in stress release and enhanced mood. The primary goal with a Swedish massage is to relax the whole body, which will last long after the session has ended. There are other important benefits as well; a Swedish massage increases the oxygen level in the blood improving circulation and decreasing the build-up of toxins in the muscles. It also helps with boosting your immune system.
Swedish massage therapy uses a wide combination of basic massage techniques:
• Effleurage: this is this most basic massage technique. Effleurage means stroking, the hands slide over the skin slowly covering different parts of the body. Normally it’s used at the beginning and at the end of the massage and to finish off a certain area. This way the blood flow is increased which produces a relaxing effect. The pressure can alternate between light and firm, using the palm of the hand or the fingertips. This technique helps with breaking the knots and releasing the tension in the muscles.
• Petrissage or Kneading: this movement is very similar to the kneading process used when making bread. This technique is designed to work on the muscles; the skin is lifted up, pressed down then squeezed, pinched and rolled. This technique allows the therapist to gain deeper penetration. Thumbs and knuckles can be used to knead and squeeze the muscles. This is a very effective technique over large, fleshy areas.
• Friction: using mainly fingertips, thumbs, knuckles and the heel of the hand deep pressure is applied to particular areas by rubbing one surface over the other. Heat is generated with this technique which relaxes the muscles more easily. The therapist will rub their hands together firmly and then rub onto the skin so that heat can be produced. This technique is very beneficial for warming up the muscles and preparing them for a deeper massage.
Swedish massage therapy is performed on a soft massage bed while the therapist stands above the client and uses oil for the massage. The environment must be quiet, comforting and relaxing. Dim lighting and soft music create a relaxing atmosphere which makes it easier to distress. It provides a great sense of relaxation; eliminating mental stress while addressing most major muscles in the body. It’s also a great therapy for pain relief as it helps to manage chronic pain by improving circulation and making painful conditions less unbearable. Strokes are performed towards the heart; metabolic waste is drained from the limbs of the body.
Swedish massage is the best way to get introduced to massage in general, it’s an excellent way to relieve the symptoms of stress, find relaxation and release tense muscles.
The benefits of Swedish massage
1. Stress management
Swedish massage is extremely effective to relieve anxiety; it helps to ease stress symptoms as well as depression. No matter how stressed you are at the beginning of the session, you calm down shortly after your therapist starts to massage you. Your mind will be cleared of apprehension and depression, you will feel purely relaxed and calm. Massage sessions help to contribute to healthy sleep, which is paramount for the body to heal itself effectively. Your energy level will increase naturally because your body and mind will be relaxed so the immune system will become stronger as well. The Swedish massage therapist will use variations in pressure in order to relax your tight muscles and relieve tension.
2. Mental and emotional relaxation
Stress is not the only cause of tenseness which must also be addressed. Muscle tension can be caused by certain types of physically demanding jobs as well. Muscle tension has a bad effect on our health even if it’s not caused by stress. Swedish massage helps to ease tension resulting in total physical and mental relaxation.
3. Lower blood pressure
Swedish massage helps with lowering blood pressure and it enhances the effectiveness of bodily functions as it improves circulation. When your blood pressure is lowered, your body and mind are calm; the risk of having depression, anxiety, a heart attack or a stroke is also lowered.
4. Muscular strain recovery
The lymphatic system functions better due to the different metabolic wastes including lactic and uric acid being flushed from the muscles. This is a very important benefit of the massage as the lymphatic system defends the body. The recovery time is shortened and you will start to feel much better in a short period of time.
5. Pain relief
This is another important benefit of Swedish massage. During the massage the muscles are relaxed and the circulation is increased, you will feel relaxed which helps with relieving pain. This massage type is also good for managing chronic pain for different conditions like arthritis. Feeling relaxed and calm also makes recovery faster.
6. Maintaining good health
Swedish massage is not only a great way to relax and enjoy yourself, it’s also an extremely effective therapy in order to maintain good health and to manage different health conditions.
After the massage session, you won’t only feel totally relaxed but completely revitalised, too. This happens because certain hormones which are responsible for feeling happy and content are released during the massage. Another interesting effect is that the right lobe of the brain which is normally active when we are depressed is not so active during the massage while the left lobe’s activity is increased. The left lobe of the brain is usually active when we are happy.
Risks of having a massage
Massage is beneficial for most people; however there are certain conditions when it’s not advisory:
• Contagious skin conditions or diseases
• Deep vein thrombosis
• Open or healing wounds
• Bleeding disorders
If you’re unsure whether it’s right for you, please always consult your doctor.
Swedish massage has numerous benefits which don’t only have physical effects but they cause positive mental and emotional changes. When you find a way to distress, unwind and relieve pain, your circulation will be increased and you will find a more relaxed state of body and mind which contributes to improving your overall wellbeing. Why don’t you visit a certified, experienced Swedish masseuse to help you become much healthier and happier?