Swedish massage it typically used to refer to a light pressure massage involving long flowing strokes. The long flowing strokes aspect is correct, but pressure is not one of the categories necessary to meet the definition of Swedish Massage.
In order for a massage style to qualify as Swedish it must consist of these five predefined movements.
- Effleurage – A French word meaning ‘to skim’. This is a long flowing stroke generally used to warm up the underlying muscles before the deeper massage begins.
- Petrissage – A French word, meaning ‘to knead’. This stroke is literally a kneading motion with the hands and arms.
- Tapotement – Derived from the French word “tapote’ meaning ‘to pat or tap’. This technique is typically a Sports Massage Technique. There are five types of Tapotement.
•Beating – Gently hitting a broad area with closed fists.
•Slapping – Gently slapping with open palms.
•Hacking – A Chopping motion with the Ulnar (pinky side) of the hands.
•Tapping – A soft tapping with the fingertips.
•Cupping – A gentle slapping with the palms with the hands cupped.
- Friction – Friction refers to massaging against the muscle fibers, also referred to as cross fiber Friction.
- Vibration – This is a shaking of the massage recipient. This technique is generally used at the end of a session.
These strokes must be performed in what is referred to as venous flow, which means that all strokes must move toward the heart.
Interestingly enough, the term Swedish Massage is only referenced in English and Danish speaking countries. If you would like a Swedish Massage in Sweden you will need to ask for a Classic Massage.