About Swedish Body Massage
Different Massage Strokes for Different Massage Folks!
When talking about Swedish body massage (or circulatory massage), one
would refer to the following six strokes. This is pretty much all you
need. Everything else is a variation of what is here.
And if you get really stumped on how to do this, I recommend receiving a professional massage to see how the pros do it.
Four things to keep in mind about Swedish body massage...
1. A good rule of thumb is to stay on the fleshy areas, where the
muscles are. And learn the bony spots ("landmarks" in massage industry
terms) to find those fleshy areas.
2. I am going to describe different ways to move your hands (like
effleurage), but not specific strokes (like Diamond Effleurage). There
are specific strokes most massage schools teach, but that level of
specificity is not necessary here and might limit your own creative
intuition about how to use a stroke.
3. With all of these strokes, the slower you go, the better it will
feel. Trust me on this one. Sometimes it takes me two minutes to strip
(see below) the erector spinae muscles (along the spine) one time.
4. Please review these pages before attempting these strokes: Safety, Body mechanics, Energetics, and Giving a Massage.
Effleurage is a gentle stroke that spreads the oil.
If you perfected this one stroke, it would
be enough to give an awesome massage. This is always a good stroke to
start with. Very relaxing.
The way I effleurage the back is to place
both hands flat against the back, on both sides of the spine, near the
shoulders, and then slowly move my hands down toward the waist of my
client. When they get to the waist, the hands move apart (away from the
spine) to the sides of the client's body, and then I bring them back
towards me, around the shoulders and finishing on the neck.
The finger pads of one hand are pulling against the side of the limb or
torso, while the palm of the other hand is pushes against the opposite
side of the leg or torso. Slowly, the hands switch positions so that
the hand that was pulling is now in position to push, and vice versa.
The technique is similar to "wringing" out
a wet wash cloth... the hands move in opposite directions. Except with
the massage, you're not gripping like you would with the wash cloth.
If you've ever baked bread you already know how to do this massage stroke.
You push directly into the muscle with the
pinky side of your palm/wrist (also called the pisiform). Then push in
with the other palm in the same way, alternating in a steady rhythm.
It is important to keep your wrists
straight. If there are any creases in the skin on the top of your
wrists, you are bending them too much, which can cause injury.
Also, be sure you are moving your hips with this stroke. It will feel better to both you and the Receiver.
With this stroke, your hands flat on the body and fingers are together,
you move one hand forward a little bit on or along a muscle, and then
you move the other one forward afterward on the same spot and a little
farther. Slowly work your way down the muscle, alternating hands.
(By the way, when your hand is in the position of fingers together, it is called a chisel.)
With your fingers together again (in a "chisel"), you place one hand on
top of the other. Use the top hand for pressure and to guide the other
one along the length of the muscle.
Keeping the bottom hand relaxed will allow
the hand to sink deeper into the muscle, will feel better to the
client, and will help the muscle to relax faster.
Percussion / Taponment
The Karate-chop stroke that people are familiar with belongs in this
catagory (the official term is Hacking. Percussion strokes are done
more to stimulate than to relax. I like to do them at the end of the
massage to wake up my clients a bit. You don't have to use too much
force with these strokes. It's more about the speed with which they are
For hacking, face palms toward each other
and bounce your hands (pinky side) on the client's body rapidly, one
after the other. Be sure to keep your wrists and fingers loose.
If you have any questions about Swedish body masage, feel free to contact me.