‘The way to heal health is to have a scented bath and a massage everyday’
Hippocrates, Ancient Greek Physician

The misnomer of Swedish massage

One of the oldest forms of Western massage, Swedish massage has been used in healing as early as the 18th century.  The origins of massage in the western context was first researched by a Dutch physician named Johan Georg Mezger.  Mezger was the first person to systemized massage in the form that we know it today.  But it was Peter Henri Ling who was credited as the founder of Swedish massage.   

Ling was the founder of the Royal Gymnastic Central Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.  He developed an integrated therapy system that combined science with physical training and gymnastic procedures.   But he did not use any form of Swedish massage in his gymnastic teaching pedagogy.   

The first recorded account that credited Ling came from an article written by a doctor, George Taylor in 1885.  Taylor made an unconfirmed observation that the gymnastic methods used by Ling in the institute, were in fact, attributed to the massage techniques of ‘clapping, knocking, stroking, kneading, pulling, shaking and vibrating.   By 1890, academic articles were using the term ‘Swedish massage’ synonymously with Ling’s gymnastic systems.  The rest, as we say, is history. 

So what is Swedish massage?

Swedish massage is a form of massage therapy that can promote deep relaxation and calm.  It is also a panacea for aching and sore muscles.   Massage is the physical manipulation of the muscles.  It is applied using the hands, knees, elbows, fingers, forearms, feet and sometimes a device.


Swedish massage is defined by the original strokes – first researched and named by Mezger:

  • Effleurage – stroking
  • Petrissage – kneading
  • Tapotement – striking
  • Frictions – rubbing
  • Vibration was a late addition to the technique. 

Who needs Swedish massage?

Anyone who needs deep relaxation, muscle tension release, cell rejuvenation, energy restoration, stress reliever or sleep improvement.

What are the benefits of Swedish massage?

The list of benefits you can derive from Swedish massage is long.  We have listed 5 major benefits you will get. 

1. Reduce anxiety and stress

Studies have shown that Swedish relaxation massage on the back, neck, leg and face can reduce anxiety and stress.   Swedish massage technique reduces blood pressure, steadies the pulse, promote blood flow, and improves body temperature and respiratory rate.  All these factors combined encourages the brain to stop production of cortisol (stress-inducing hormones).  In its place, the brain releases happy hormones (endorphins, dopamine and serotonin).

2. Relief pain

Swedish massage can be used to treat chronic pain as well as everyday aches.  The rubbing, kneading, striking, stroking and tapping actions of Swedish massage activate the metabolism and improves blood circulation to tired or injured muscles and tissues.  This in turn, reduces tension and lowers the levels of chemicals that generate pain.

3. Boost immunity

Did you know that Swedish massage can boost your immunity?  People who have Swedish massage experienced a significant improvement in their lymphocytes – the white blood cells that plays a key role in helping the body fight diseases.

4. Relief headaches

Swedish massage has been proven effective in relieving headaches.  Frequent Swedish massage can reduce common headaches and tension headaches.  The gentle, soothing actions used in Swedish massage is a wonderful way to calm the mind and release tension.

5. Promote fertility

A brilliant stress-reliever, Swedish massage is used by professional fertility clinics to help patients relax during fertility treatment.  Swedish massage is used to relieve aches and pains during pregnancy and for post-partum recovery. 

How frequently do you need Swedish relaxation massage?

As a general recommendation, in order to enjoy the full benefits of a Swedish massage you will need at least an hour, once a week.  If time is not your friend, consider a Swedish massage that is at least 45 minutes long.  Anything less than that will not be worth your while.   If you are using Swedish massage to treat a chronic pain or injury, you will need at least 60 – 90 minutes for the massage therapist to really pinpoint and treat the affected area.  If you want to pamper yourself, then nothing less than 2 hours will do. 

After a Swedish massage you will feel totally calm and relaxed.  Your pain will ease. Your stress has disappeared.  You feel invigorated rejuvenated. 

You deserve to relax.  Pamper yourself with a Swedish massage today at Retreat Wellness Swedish Massage Spa.  Book your next session here

Beyond a fancy spa and a massage therapy centre, Retreat Wellness is a one-of-a-kind experience.  We practise a wholesome all-encompassing theme that explores the elements of healing and well-being.  We offer an extensive menu of therapeutic massages to help you feel like your best self in no time.
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