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What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage

What is Swedish Massage?

Massage therapies were first recorded in China from around 3000 BC.  The ancient Chinese called these practices ‘Amma’.  The Japanese also used similar pressure point known as ‘Shiatsu’. Shiatsu is a type of massage in which pressure is applied with the thumbs and palms to different parts of the body. It encourages the flow of the person’s Ki, or life energy. In India they incorporate massage therapy into their Ayurvedic medicine.  Ayurvedic massages are based on the three dosha personality types, Vata, (air) Pitta (fire) and Kapha (Water).  When these doshas are unbalanced health problems arise.  The Ancient Greeks used massage as part of their daily lifestyle.  They believed that massage was essential for good health.  In Roman times the Gladiators were given massages before and after fighting to ease their stiff and sore muscles.

Modern based holistic massage which is also known as ‘Swedish massage’ was first developed by Swedish physiologist ‘Per Henrich Ling’ in the early 19th century.  He studied in China and created tissue manipulation movements which are known as the ‘Ling system’.  Swedish massage is the most popularly known massage in recent years.  Other treatments can be combined with it such as physiotherapy or aromatherapy.  It is a healing and restorative therapy for physical, mental and psychological ailments.

Massage helps to induce relaxation by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which decreases the pulse rate, promotes deep breathing and releases endorphins.  When a person is stressed their breathing is rapid and shallow.  They can’t seem to catch their breath.  It can be frightening.  It can feel as though you are ‘wired’ and you are about to take off at any moment.  This is what is known as ‘the fight or flight’ response.  The person’s adrenal system is fully activated and they can feel stressed for any number of both trivial and significant reasons.

In Mesolithic times, this system kicked in when the man or woman had to run away from a dangerous wild animal.  However in modern times our bodies have not evolved enough to realise real danger.  Our dangerous wild animals of today are work and relationship problems, traffic jams, financial problems and technology not working properly.  This creates the same physiological response as the caveman experienced.  Massage helps to slow down the adrenal system again and pacify the stressed person.

Benefits of Swedish massage

  • Restores health and wellbeing
  • Boosts immune system
  • Encourages relaxation and improves mood
  • Stimulates circulatory systems
  • Improves the skin tone and elasticity of the skin
  • Stimulates the lymphatic system
  • Stimulates the digestive system

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