0141 374 2506
Up to 30% off your massage ... Click Here

Swedish Massage: Everything you need to know

A popular massage treatment used to release areas of mild tension and reduce anxiety levels


Swedish massage is the most widely recognised style of massage in the UK. Thousands of people see massage practioners every day to alleviate tension caused by stress, poor posture, injury and debilitating diseases.

The prominence of this style comes as no surprise though. The approach taken in administering a Swedish massage comes from a foundation of anatomical principles rather than ‘energy work’ which are more common in Asian massage techniques. The absence of ‘mystical energies’ in applying the Swedish massage means that it has been able to be tried and tested.

And, the results are unquestionable. Numerous studies have found that, Swedish massage has been not just been proven to reduce anxiety, but also has been found to provide a positive “cumulative and sustained biologic effect” upon the body.

What techniques are involved?

Swedish massage is based on 5 core techniques:

  • Effleurage – long gliding movements using the palm of the hand
  • Kneading – tissues are lifted, rolled and squeezed in a compressive action
  • Tapping –  rhythmic tapping to loosen and relax the m
  • Friction – small movements to penetrate deep tissues using the thumb
  • Vibrationoscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body


Effleurage is a massage technique that involves long stroking movements with the palm of the hand and/or fingertips sliding over the skin. It is typically used at the beginning and end of a massage session to introduce touch, encourage relaxation and to assess the tension levels in the body.


Kneading is process of compressing and releasing the soft tissue using either direct pressure or by picking up and squeezing the muscle and skin together. Kneading is generally used to have a deeper effect upon soft tissue.

Rhythmic Tapping

Like the name suggests, this massage technique uses a tapping motion with the fists. This helps to loosen and relax the muscles being manipulated and also helps to energize them. The sides of the hands are also used in this massage technique.


Frictions are small forceful movements applied back and forth over isolated areas using the pads of the fingers or thumbs. This technique actually disrupts the tissues in order to realign new fibres and therefore must be used sparingly and only when the need arises.

Vibration or Shaking

Vibrations help to loosen up the muscles by using a back and forth action of the fingertips or the heel of the hand over the skin. The muscles of the body are literally shaken up to loosen and relax.

What Is A Swedish Good For?

Swedish massage have been known specifically for their calming benefits:

  • Improving circulation around the body
  • Soothing tired muscles
  • Feeling more relaxed

Swedish massage uses softer strokes on the bonier and more delicate parts of the body, and stronger strokes where there is thicker muscle coverage. This adjustment of pressure makes it an ideal massage for relaxation.

Besides the calming benefits, Swedish massage is thought to be good for:

  • Easing muscular strain by flushing out toxins
  • Improving circulation by increasing oxygen flow in the blood
  • Helping to keep ligaments and tendons supple
  • Reducing emotional and physical stress.


What To Expect During Your Treatment

Pre-Treatment Consultation

Every body is different. That’s why it is absolutely vital that your massage therapist spends some time getting to know you before the treatment and you let them know exactly how you would like to feel after the massage.

That way, they can tailor the massage specifically for you.

Post-Treatment Aftercare

Just as important as the massage itself is the way you treat your body afterwards. After your treatment, your therapist will go over a few do’s and don’ts to make sure you get the most out of the massage for days to come.

How long do you recommend?

It really depends on how you’re feeling. Some people like a 30 minute Swedish massage to quickly clear their head. Others go for a 90 minute session to let go of all the stress they are holding onto.

The most popular length is for a 60 minute massage session.

What should I wear for the massage?

The key to dressing for your massage is to just wear what feels comfortable. You don’t want be changing back into uncomfy clothes after your treatment.

What should I wear during the massage?

Again, it depends on what makes you feel comfortable. 

Most people just like to wear their underwear and cover themselves with towels. However, some people have opted to keep their clothes on entirely.

If you are undressing, your massage therapist will step out of the room briefly while you get yourself comfortable and under the towels.

Note: You don’t have to be completely exposed at any point; your therapist will uncover one little bit of you at a time depending on the area she is focusing on. If you’re worried about anything, don’t hesitate to say so.


Gentle therapeutic music is a great way to take your mind off any negative thoughts that are in your head.

However, if you fancy a different kind of music or none at all then please let us know and we’ll change it for you. 

Massage Oils

Your therapist might assess your complexion at the start of your treatment and choose essential oils or lotions to suit your skin type.

They will massage these into your body with a series of strokes and techniques specific to the part of your body and what you want to achieve; for example, this might be long, gliding strokes across your back to help you relax, or kneading or rubbing your shoulders to unwind any knots.

The treatment takes into account the delicate or tender areas of your body, so it should be comfortable and soothing.

Temperature Levels

Staying cosy is so important during your massage.

If at any time you feel cold in the slightest, just ask your massage therapist and they will crank up the heat.

Did you know?

Strangely enough, Swedish massage doesn’t actually originate from Sweden. The truth is that a Dutchman named Johan Georg Mezger created the methodology behind the key massage strokes, but a mistake in translation translated his system as the ‘Swedish Massage System’. This name was very similar to a Swedish system called the ‘Swedish Movement System’ by Peter Ling.

The name ‘Swedish Massage’ seemed to have a bit of a ring to it and has stuck ever since!


Featured Articles

What's the difference between Swedish & Deep Tissue Massage?

Similar Treatments

Aromatherapy Massage

Deep Tissue Massage

Sports Therapy Massage