Swedish massage is the most well known type of massage. Swedish uses long gliding strokes with oil, lotion, or cream to facilitate the relaxation response, increase circulation and oxygen, and attempt to provide stress relief and detoxification.
Swedish uses several different strokes in the course of a session, depending on the expertise of the therapist, the condition and tone of the muscles and the requested end-result of the client.
Effleurage is typically used to warm the muscle tissue and analyze the muscle through palpation using long, gliding, and relaxation-invoking strokes.
Petrissage is a kneading stroke, which lifts, wrings, and compresses muscles to further loosen and relax the muscles.
Tapotement, also known as percussion, taps, pounds, and “drums” on large muscles to ad another layer of release.
Vibration is used to access the more superficial nerves that lay just under the skin. It is a shaking, or rapid movement that enhances nerve function to the muscles, and also helps relax larger muscles.
Stretching may be used by some therapists and is generally used to enhance joint mobility and flexibility. Joints most often stretched are shoulders and hips, but any joint may be stretched if it is within the training of the therapist and beneficial to the client.
Deep tissue massage uses similar techniques as Swedish, but differentiates from Swedish by using much slower and deeper pressure in order to access the deeper layers of muscle. Deeper pressure helps break up adhesions in fascia, tendons, and muscle not normally reached with relaxing Swedish strokes. This can be very beneficial for releasing chronic muscle tension, but is not tolerated by everyone. Some muscle soreness is often experienced for a day or two afterwards by some clients, and is a normal response.