Swedish massage is considered a basic massage for relaxation. The focus being massage strokes directed towards the heart to enhance venous blood (circulation) and lymph flow. However, massage strokes on the individual’s back can move in various directions because of the heart being centrally located. Smooth gliding strokes (effleurage), soft kneading (petrissage) of the muscles, cross-fiber friction and some stretching of the muscles helps the body to relax. This type of massage has a light to moderate touch with gentle movements applied with a slow rhythm.
The session starts with the individual lying supine (face up) and massaging the scalp (no lotion or oil used on the scalp). However, massage to the scalp is optional. The neck (cervical) muscles are stretched by holding the occipital muscles stationary while pressing the shoulder away from the neck. Sometimes the therapist will hold the head with the tips of the fingers pressing into the occipital muscles then gently pulling back on the muscles with the fingertips. Then gliding and thumb stroking the neck muscles, kneading and pressing down along side of the upper trapezius with open palm or closed fist to the deltoids. Followed by massaging the arms to the fingertips, and massaging the legs, feet and toes. The individual receives a gentle stretch of the lumbar and then rotates to lying prone (face down) on the massage table. The posterior side of legs (hamstrings and calves) are then massaged and gently stretched. Though, stretching is minimal on the legs.
The final touch focuses on the back, shoulder blades, posture muscles, sacrum area and gluteal muscles.
Even though massage therapist has a routine touch for the massage session, the recipient can request the massage be more directed on specific areas of the body (example: the upper back and shoulders, feet, etc.). The massage session is completed with light rhythmic tapotement (percussion). Tapotement is a good for circulation and stimulation of the body. It helps the individual awaken out of the semi-conscience sleep mode.
Please know that the starting position for massage can be prone or supine. This is only an example of how the massage could commence.