Swedish massage description
Swedish massage is a type of massage therapy that’s primarily known for its relaxation effects. With this technique, a massage therapist targets muscles with a combination of friction, gliding strokes, and kneading.
Also known as classical massage, this technique is the most common form of massage therapy in Western countries. It’s also considered a core technique that led to the creation of other types of massage therapy.
Read on to learn about what the science says about this massage therapy technique.
Therapeutic Swedish massage benefits
Like other types of massage therapy, a Swedish massage is promoted as a way to temporarily alleviate pain and help you relax. Below are 12 possible benefits of Swedish massage, as well as information about related clinical research.
While Swedish massage may help with low back pain, there’s conflicting scientific evidence regarding its benefits.
Some research suggests that massage therapy in general provides only temporary relief, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)Trusted Source. One 2017 reviewTrusted Source found that Swedish massage was indeed helpful in alleviating low back pain in nurses.
However, this may not be an ideal treatment for chronic low back pain, as determined by one 2019 controlled trialTrusted Source that found massage reduced only the perception of pain. Another 2008 study suggests that Swedish massage may help low back pain only if people also exercise.
As with low back pain, Swedish massage may reduce neck pain, but only temporarily. One key finding in a 2016 review found that people were more likely to benefit from this massage if they attended frequent and long sessions, according to the NCCIHTrusted Source.
Swedish massage may also offer short-term relief from shoulder pain, per the NCCIHTrusted Source. As with neck pain relief, you may consider talking with your massage therapist about regular sessions to maximize the benefits to your shoulder area.
Some studies have found massage therapy can help alleviate fibromyalgia pain, as well as anxiety and depression. However, there’s conflicting evidence regarding Swedish massage more specifically, the NCCIHTrusted Source reports.
If you’re seeking massage therapy for headaches, it’s important to know that it hasn’t been as widely studied in a clinical setting as other forms of pain therapy.
However, according to the NCCIHTrusted Source, some research suggests that a weekly traditional Swedish massage may reduce migraine. So far, the science supporting possible tension headache relief is inconclusive.
The possible relaxing effects of massage are promoted for stress management, but research also suggests that massage therapy may help alleviate anxiety. Such benefits have also been linked to anxiety associated with HIV and AIDS, as well as fibromyalgia, per the NCCIHTrusted Source.
However, the long-term benefits of Swedish massage for anxiety are up for debate.
One 2016 studyTrusted Source found that while this technique reduced symptoms of anxiety, such as high blood pressure and pulse, Swedish massage didn’t improve overall anxiety scores in the women who participated.
Swedish massage may decrease blood pressure related to anxiety, according to the 2016 studyTrusted Source mentioned just above. However, more studies are needed to determine whether this technique can offer long-term relief and whether it may improve high blood pressure related to other causes.
Relaxation techniques are recommended for sleep disorders, particularly those related to anxiety, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. If Swedish massages help you relax, you may consider regular sessions to decrease anxiety and stress.
Over time, you might find improvements in sleep. However, more clinical research is needed to determine whether Swedish massage can actually help improve sleep.
Relaxation techniques, such as massage therapy, are also promoted by health professionals to help ease symptoms of PMS such as fatigue and mood shifts. Still, more clinical research is needed to determine whether Swedish massage can specifically address these PMS symptoms.
The overall benefits of massage therapy to your mood may also help address symptoms of depression. While the NCCIH notes that research has supported such benefits on a smaller scale, larger studies are needed to explore the effects of Swedish massage on depression.
While more evidence is needed, the NCCIHTrusted Source reports that early research suggests people with cancer may benefit from using Swedish massage as a complementary therapy to address symptoms like pain, fatigue, and anxiety.
Still, this research is older, and more clinical studies are needed to look at this benefit. You should also use caution if you have a history of blood clots.
Who may benefit from Swedish massage therapy?
If you’re looking for short-term pain relief and temporary relaxation, you could benefit from a Swedish massage.
Long-term effects on pain and anxiety may possibly be achieved with regular sessions.
While massage therapy is widely regarded as safe when done by a professional, risks still exist. Possible side effects include:
Is Swedish massage safe if you’re pregnant?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it’s safe to get a massage while pregnant — if you take certain precautions. In fact, getting a massage can help improve your circulation and mood during this time.
Tell your massage therapist that you’re pregnant so they are better able to accommodate your needs. For example, they may have you lie on your side instead of the traditional facedown position.
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