Swedish Massage History

Sensational Swedish Massage

Have you ever has a Swedish massage and thought to yourself – why is this type of massage called ‘Swedish’?

The strange thing is Swedish massage did not actually originate in Sweden, nor was it created by a Swede.  In Sweden there is no ‘Swedish massage’, instead massage is referred to almost universally as ‘classic massage.’ The classical massage is one of the oldest body treatments in the history and originated in Asia. The first written references are from the Chinese Huang Di, around 2600 BC, who describes different massage techniques and gymnastic exercises. The so called “Swedish era” started with the Swedish Professor Pehr Ling who, in 1813, founded the “Institute for healing gymnastics and massage” in Stockholm. 

The Professor started to employ the massage techniques that were popular among Greeks and Romans in ancient times.  Ling's system, which he called Medical Gymnastics, became more commonly known as Swedish massage. Pehr Ling is also considered the father of physical therapy.  Massage only constituted approximately 10% of the techniques used by Ling when he gave treatments. Later, a Dutch physician named Johann Mezger, promoted Swedish massage using a medical model.  Most credited Mezger with introducing and popularizing the use of French terminology to describe the system. Swedish massage represents one form of Western method of massage.

The Swedish massage approach classifies 5 types of strokes:

  • Effleurage - gliding
  • Petrissage - kneading
  • Friction - rubbing
  • Tapotement - pounding
  • Vibration - shaking

Each type of stroke offers different benefits. Swedish massage therapists focus on client relaxation using these techniques. Clients typically receive a full-body Swedish massage that lasts 60 to 90 minutes. If you want to know where you can receive a great Swedish massage in London 

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