Swedish massage therapy involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles. This is combined with movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be very relaxing and also energizing. It often helps after an injury.
The four common strokes of Swedish massage are:
- Effleurage: a smooth, gliding, relaxing stroke used on soft tissue
- Petrissage: squeezing, rolling, or kneading techniques.
- Friction: deep, circular motions and movements that help to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
- Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand
Swedish massage and physical therapy were pioneered by a Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) at the University of Stockholm.