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Learning Center- Massage Techniques- Swedish

massage techniques swedish massage

What is Swedish Massage?

The most common type of massage is Swedish. It uses soft, long, kneading strokes as well as light, rhythmic, tapping on topmost layers of muscles. It is designed to manipulate the muscles and joints. By relieving tension, Swedish massage can be simultaneously relaxing and revitalizing. It can also help with injury recovery.

Swedish massage is the most common massage that comes to mind for most people. One of the primary goals of Swedish massage is to relax the body. Manipulating the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart helps your body to relax. 

Additionally, it is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood, reducing muscle toxins, increasing circulation, and improving flexibility.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published a study in The New York Times that stated that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced notable decreases in cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as arginine vasopressin, a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. 

Volunteers also had increases in lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and an increase in the immune cells that can help fight colds and the flu.

What are the Strokes of Swedish Massage?

Four common strokes are used during Swedish massage:

  • Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke for relaxing soft tissue
  • Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows
  • Friction: deep, circular movements that help increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
  • Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands or fingers

Swedish vs. Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but it is designed to reach deeper and is intended to provide different benefits closer to muscle recovery.

Deep tissue massage is best for athletes, runners, and people with injuries. It can also work well for those with persistent pain conditions like fibromyalgia and lower back pain. 

This type of massage targets the innermost layers of your muscles, tendons, and fascia, which is dense connective tissue. 

While the same types of movements are used in deep tissue massage that are used in Swedish massage, it usually involves much more pressure because the pressure is needed to reach the deep muscle tissue. When a person performs a deep tissue massage they use their fists, knuckles, and even elbows. When a massage chair performs deep tissue massage, it protrudes the rollers out farther to push deeper into your muscles. That is why you’ll need a 3D or 4D massage chair if you want deep tissue massage.

Swedish Massage in a Massage Chair

Since Swedish massage is so popular and the most commonly used, you’ll find it in nearly every massage chair. When you’re reading the massage chair descriptions, you’ll see that several of the techniques mention kneading and tapping, and using them both together. This refers to the style used during Swedish massage. 

Additionally, the automatic programs used in massage chairs for relaxation and sleep tend to be based around Swedish massage techniques. When you’re looking for deep tissue massage, you’ll find that represented in 3D and 4D massage chairs.

If you have any questions about massage chairs and how they might provide this type of massage, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re available over the phone or through email at

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