The significant difference in the two approaches is their effect on these layers. A Swedish technique uses lubricant to glide over the layers – whether that be on a superficial layer (light pressure) or a deeper layer (firm pressure). There may also be kneading of the muscles, vibration or percussion to stimulate the muscles, and passive and/or active joint movements. All of these techniques serve to increase circulation of blood and lymph, soften and relax the tissues, reduce cortisol levels in the body (the stress hormone), and provide a generalized sense of relaxation for the client.
The whole Swedish experience is also a potential stress reliever, which is a benefit unto itself. Plus, it can improve blood flow, delivering more oxygen to cells. A lesser-known benefit—moisturized, glowing skin—results from the application of massage oils. Many therapists prefer to use sweet almond oil because it absorbs slowly into the skin, yet doesn’t leave clients feeling like they’re covered in grease. Other favorite oils include grapeseed (non-greasy, no smell) and jojoba oil (easily absorbed, mixes well with aromatherapy oils).
"Back before we started wearing shoes everywhere, we developed natural stimulus points from the ground [making direct contact] with our feet," Colin says. "By walking and getting that stimuli, we would relieve stress. We don't get that anymore. So the idea of reflexology is going back and mimicking that stimuli to specific points and feeling where that stress sits."
Swedish massage is the most common massage therapy technique in the United States. (In case you were wondering, Swedish massage is called “classic massage” in Sweden.) A Swedish massage focuses on overall relaxation, circulation, and physical and mental wellness. Swedish massage includes gliding, kneading, tapping, stretching, and cross-friction strokes.
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To be effective, a reflexology practitioner must be certified and understand the meridians related to each pressure point. Most spas offer reflexology, and the treatment typically lasts approximately 30 minutes. It’s important to have a conversation with your reflexologist beforehand to discuss your “issues,” whether it is constipation, a tension headache or trouble sleeping.
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Many people are living with chronic pain somewhere in their body every day. Regular and continuous massage therapy can reduce and relieve pain from many or specific areas the body is ailing. Some doctors recommend these kinds of massages as a follow up to a medical treatment, or to be used in conjunction with a larger treatment plan to remedy an injury.
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Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909) is generally credited (by physicians such as Emil Kleen and Richard Hael, who researched the origins of massage and gymnastics) as the man who adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes under which he systemized massage as we know it today, as Swedish or classic massage. Somehow, the term Swedish Movement System was transposed to Swedish Massage System sometime during the second half of the 19th century. Ling’s system was the Swedish Movement System or Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. This may be how he has become incorrectly associated for so long with Swedish massage. When the first books were written about Ling’s Swedish Gymnastic System, the writers used the French terms so prevalent since Mezger’s use of them. Later writers evidently attributed the French terms to Ling because of this.1
Empathy: Most people opt for massage therapy because they are in pain or because they are stressed out and need to calm down. As a massage therapist, it is imperative that you are empathetic to the needs of your clients, regardless of your day is going. If you appear or feel anxious or stressed, you are not going to be able to make your client feel calm and relaxed. Create trust with your patients by being personable and communicating effectively. Be receptive to their needs.
When a person experiences ongoing stiffness, tension, or sustained injury to their muscles, tendons and ligaments, these form a band of rigid inflexible tissues called adhesions (known colloquially as “knots”). While most adhesions are relatively minor, extreme cases can block circulation, limit movement and flexibility, and be extremely painful. Often, the only way to address these adhesions is through deep tissue massage treatments.
Swedish Massage is the “original” western style massage and is the foundation for other western massage techniques. Swedish style massage uses long strokes, kneading and friction with the primary purpose of increasing circulation and promoting relaxation. Pressure can be light to firm, but is not as detailed as Deep Tissue Massage. It’s important to remember, that deeper isn’t always better. Sometimes what the body needs is to simply relax and de-stress so it can heal itself. The health benefits of regular full-body Swedish massage are plentiful. Benefits include increased circulation, lowered blood pressure, improved immune function and reversal of the effects of stress. People who receive regular Swedish massage find that they feel healthier, more energetic, less stressed and are less susceptible to illness.
Certain massage therapists have specialized training in techniques that help treat people with injuries, inflammation, tears and limitations. Although more than one massage session is usually needed to provide relief and see improvements in pain, well-trained therapists can usually recommend practices or stretches for you to try at home that can further help improve healing.
Integrative Reflexology is defined as “massage therapy-based reflexology, practiced as both energy work and bodywork.” Integrative reflexology is an holistic discipline which uses the therapist’s hands to apply alternating and firm pressure to stimulate physiological changes in the body. The therapist activates the zone reflex points and meridian points to create beneficial responses in the nervous, electrical and chemical systems of the body. Integrative Reflexology allows the body to relax by releasing tension and improving blood flow. It helps the body to adjust to its own healthy balance.
Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Any third party offering or advertising on this website does not constitute an endorsement by Andrew Weil, M.D. or Healthy Lifestyle Brands.
A graduate of the Baltimore School of Massage’s class of 2011, Heather is generous, thoughtful and compassionate. She approaches each client with a calm, positive attitude and her best healing intentions. She sees massage as an opportunity to reconnect with the body and facilitate awareness. From beginning to end, she evaluates and addresses any blockage or dysfunction. She wants every client to leave feeling better than when they arrived. Whether the goal is to alleviate pain, increase mobility, ease the mind or simply melt on the table, your needs will be listened to and addressed to the best of her capabilities. She understands the importance in finding a balance of work and the rest of life. She relaxes by listening to music and podcasts, going to concerts is the ideal outing. She loves spending time with her family, dining out with loved ones and traveling. Thank you for taking a moment to learn about Heather, please book your appointment soon!
Your therapist might assess your complexion at the start of your treatment and choose essential oils or lotions to suit your skin type. She will massage these into your body with a series of strokes and techniques specific to the part of your body and what you want to achieve; for example, this might be long, gliding strokes across your back to help you relax, or kneading or rubbing your shoulders to unwind any knots. The treatment takes into account the delicate or tender areas of your body, so it should be comfortable and soothing.