Learn Swedish Massage Techniques

Learn free online the Swedish Massage Techniques - the base of any massage session. Learn the extended set of the Swedish massage Techniques: Effleurage, Friction, Petrissage, Tapotement, Stretching, Compression, Vibrations.

There are a lot of different techniques that can be used during a massage session. The range is from the most delicate touch to deep-tissue work. Knowing how to perform these procedures is the key to a successful massage. This online massage course will teach you the basics of massage, show you how to execute the extended set of Swedish massage techniques.

You will learn here the definitions and the descriptions of the most commonly used strokes in a massage session. If you master these moves you are a lot closer to become a professional massage practitioner. Don't forget though, there is a lot more to massage than the technique.

History of Swedish Massage Techniques

Massage is one of the oldest form of medical therapy. The ancient civilizations knew the value of massage as a therapeutic practice and used it as a preventative and curative tool. The ancient Greece, Rome, India and China had developed their own massage system.
Modern massage techniques are the result of constant evolution and development of massage and historic events. There is also a strong social and trend component that contributes to the ever changing face of a massage session.
In the modern Western culture the most popular massage modality is Swedish massage. Swedish massage uses four basic massage techniques, each with its own benefit. The four basic strokes are: Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction and Tapotement. There are also other techniques that massage practitioners can incorporate into their session, including Vibrations, Compression, and Nerve Strokes. This page describes the most common Swedish Massage Techniques and tries to uncover interesting things about each of the techniques.

Guidelines for Bodywork

General Guidelines for Your Massage Manipulation

  • All strokes must be varied in speed and pressure according to your client's needs. For example, if you want to relax your client you will perform slow strokes, on the contrary if you want to stimulate your client you need to choose the faster moves.
    But to be honest, for most of the subjects, slow and steady will do it. The slower the better.
  • As a general rule, strokes should be made in the direction of the heart, or following the lymph circulation, (towards lymph nodes). The very light strokes, (effleurage, stroking), can be executed ignoring these two rules.
  • The massage session should be perceived as one long series of rhythmic strokes. When you pass from a technique to another there should be no interruptions for adjustments. This is normally achieved through practice.
  • Adjust the pressure according to your client's needs. Never think that you know better than your client. And "no pain no gain" doesn't apply in massage.
  • Don't be Nervous you can give an effective massage. If you are nervous your subject will pick up that.

The Swedish Massage Techniques

Learn Online the Swedish Massage Techniques

When you do the massage you will need this extended set of Swedish Massage moves:

  • Effleurage
    Definition: Effleurage is a slow, rhythmic massage movement, performed mostly with the open palms of the hands. The strokes are long, steady and even, maintaining contact with the subject as much as possible. It is one of the most commonly performed massage technique. Variations of the technique include the use of the forearm or the knuckles, and different speed or pressure.
  • Friction
    Definition: The massage friction technique attempts to move the deep tissue layers applying moderate to deep pressure. The fingers, or knuckles, or elbow do not glide over the skin, the technique is using the skin as a glove and it is the subjects skin that glides over the underlying tissue.
  • Petrissage
    Definition: Petrissage is a road term to describe various massage movements applied with medium to medium deep pressure targeting the underlying muscles. The petrissage techniques have in common a rhythmic, alternating, push-pull motion, the most common being the kneading. Other petrissage techniques are wringing, skin rolling and lifting, (the last one is not an alternating technique).
  • Tapotement
    Definition: Tapotement or percussion is a massage technique that involves rapid, rhythmic hands movement. The hands apply alternating, rhythmic strikes with a relaxed wrist.
  • Stretching
    Definition: Massage Stretching consists of active - passive movements, performed y the practitioner with the purpose of increasing joint mobility. Some of the movements include traction, rotation, ending, flexing, etc...
  • Compression
    Definition: Compression, uses various pressure levels from very light to deep and it is applied with elbow, palm, fingers, knuckles, feet, etc%u2026 to create motionless pressure on various body parts.
  • Vibrations
    Definition: Massage Vibration is a technique performed with the fingers or the palm at a very high frequency. The trembling movement is performed superficial with a light pressure. The vibration is obtained in the therapist's forearm muscles of the therapist creating a shivering sensation.

How To Do Effleurage - Video - The Shingles Technique

Learn How To Do Effleurage Video - Backwards Shingles

Learn Massage Video

Techniques of Swedish Massage Video

Learn Massage DVD

If you want a video tutorial renting this video is one of the best ideas. It is a great tutorial and renting is really cheap. You might even want to buy the DVD.

Russian Massage Techniques - Circular Friction

Palm friction - a Russian massage technique done with the heel of the hand.

How to perform a Massage Stretching

What is Massage Stretching

Stretching is one of the moves that is not part of the classical Swedish Massage techniques set. However, Eastern techniques, such as Shiatsu or Thai massage are heavily based on various types of stretching.
Stretching can be skipped from a massage session very easy, however there are a lot of health benefits from doing it. You should be able to assess your client's needs and perform one or a combination of the following types of stretching.

How to Perform Massage Stretching
Massage StretchingThe stretching can be performed on limbs, on the back, or you can even stretch the neck but very gentle. If you are not very experienced you should choose to not perform stretching on the neck.
You have to make sure you don't overstretch. This is especially true for small persons who's bodies can be easier manipulated and you can pass the normal movement range of the articulation. Usually your patient tells you that it hurts, but sometimes they don't and you have to make sure you communicate with them when you perform the stretching.

Stretching Types
Passive stretching: The stretching is done entirely by the practitioner and the patient does not actively participate.
Active assisted stretching: This requires the patient to do the stretch while the massage therapist helps stretch a little further.
Active resisted stretching: The patient resists the movement of the stretch. This helps the muscle and the joist to stretch better and increases the level of "pleasant pain".

Massage Stretching

Assisted Range of Motion Video


Compression Massage Technique

What is Massage Compression Technique

The compression massage technique is not very used in a Swedish massage session. However it is very used in trigger-point therapy and consists in applying static pressure on a painful spot with the purpose to relieve the stress and the pain. Pressopuncture is another modality that relies heavily on pressures.
Reflexology relies also on pressure to stimulate the reflex points.

Massage Compression Types
The compression can be static just push your finger on to the massaged spot or it can be circular moves, like in friction, the difference being that for a compression the area is more restricted and you have to find specific spots, whereas friction can can be executed everywhere on the body.

Pressopuncture Compression
According to acupuncture and pressopuncture, in certain cases the circular movement has to be done static or clockwise and with strong force to activate the point, in other cases the move will be light counterclockwise to reduce the point. This however is a distinct and very complex therapy that has to be learned separately.

Finger Compression Technique for Back Pain
Spine Muscles CompressionOne of the best places to apply massage compressions is on each side of the spine. Start as low as possible on the spine, going all the way up to the neck. The compressions should be done at every inch or so, with moderate to strong pressure. Use for this techniques your thumbs, indexes or knuckles. This is a great procedure for relaxing and reinforcing the spinal muscles. It is very effective for people who sit in front of the computer as a job.

Mastering Pressure Points Needs Practice
Acupressure on JawThe points to be worked on are not easy to find, and you will need some time to figure out how to pinpoint them. This is valid for all types of massage, reflexology, acupressure, trigger points, marma therapy, or Thai massage.
You can try to discover them by palpation and with feedback from your client. On the other hand, it isn't a good idea to do that without the proper training if you want to preserve a good image as a therapist. Practice a lot and it will come naturally.

Compression Massage Technique Video

You Need More than Massage Techniques

Learn Massage in a Massage School

There are a lot of things that cannot be learned from a book, you still need to go to a Massage School. There are techniques that can only be learned in a school under supervision.
These things and many others can only be learned in a supervised massage training setting under the supervision of a specialized staff.
Knowing all the maneuvers needed during a massage session doesn't make you an expert, but it surely helps the process of becoming one. Knowing the techniques is mandatory but it doesn't make you a complete practitioner. Here is a list of other things that you need to learn before you can be a massage therapist.

  • A Massage Therapist needs to know the human anatomy, how to assess the state of a client through visual examination, palpation and questioning the client.
  • A health history is an extremely important aspect as it gives the practitioner information of the client's heath and this information is essential for the assessment and to determine the contraindications.
  • The Massage Therapist needs communication skills in order to present his/her findings and the treatment plan.
  • He/She needs to know how to handle difficult situations that might arise occasionally.
  • The practitioner needs to know draping techniques and how to handle the customer's privacy.


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